YES you may. What are you waiting for?

Should I, should I not… sometimes we balance on the edge of the fence, and we sway back and forth, and then we don’t make a move. And nothing happens.

What are you waiting for? Do you need permission? Who do you need permission from?

We sometimes want the assurance of somebody to tell us things are going to be fine. That we will get there. That we are doing the right thing. A parental omniscient figure with wisdom that is ahead of our own.

As we grow older and more experienced, that person gets rarer and rarer to find (here is a secret: most other so-called adults are also winging it to some degree or another). At some point, this role of the one giving permission is one we have to start adopting ourselves. As the owners of our own lives, we can give ourselves permission. To dream big, to dream at all, to plan and to do. To possibly fail and to try again because the dream is still there. Even if it is a small experiment that brings reality and dream closer together. You may. This is not a dress rehearsal. This is all there is and things won’t implement themselves.

(I am not advocating risky behavior or to breaking rules, procedures and things like that. Personal responsibility applies (that is the adult bit…) I am gently inviting you to challenge an assumption you might have that might hold you back from taking steps to make changes in your life. Coaching can also help with that.)

Values, integrity and support systems

On a fine day it’s all good with values and integrity. Or so it seems. Except, often, as the hashtag #metoo shows, you might have no idea if things are actually fine or not. Sooner or later, something will happen that will prompt you to speak out (and it might well be a long way after the fact). Speak out for yourself or for someone else, for the sake of your values, your integrity or human decency in general.

As humans that are still far more tribal than we think, the fear of being ostracized is massive for anyone about to properly rock the boat. Consequences are real. And when you are the one being hurt, you might feel you are in the worst possible position to speak out, at the precise moment you feel called to do so. You need a support system. That hand-picked tribe that will stick up for you when the going gets rough.

And let’s face it, in most people’s reality there might not always be knights in shining armor or whatever metaphor or savior archetype you fancy, and not everyone will be immediately grateful you spoke up. A dysfunctional system will fight back hard (it never obeyed the rules of decency you hold true to begin with, remember, that’s how you got to needing to speak up). So, when the proverbial fan-hitting-thing happens, you might have to do quite a bit of the saving yourself, and the better your support system is, the better you can stand up for yourself and be OK (eventually). Or at least not make this the next round of train-wreckery for yourself so you can get yourself to safety and start rebuilding elsewhere.

So, how does one find allies? You likely already have at least some. Friends, partners and family work are the first port of call for a lot of people but not everyone has that available as a resource that is actually helpful. Start before you need it. And be clear what would actually help you right now. Chances are people that aren’t in your situation will only have a dim understanding what actually helps.

Official resources (ombudspeople, HR, a lawyer, your professional association, a mentor, teacher, the police, your level-headed colleague, your manager) are great when they are available (and not entangled in the issue). Look for people with shared values who demonstrate integrity in other matters. It’s about what people do (not what they say). Often the loudest ones are conspicuously absent when stands need taking, and the quiet ones that barely know you are the ones who will help you the most.

It’s can feel hostile out there all alone. Don’t go it alone where you don’t have to.

Book on values is here. Second book is in the works that goes deeper into support as well.

(written October 2017, updated March 2021)