I was paid perhaps the greatest compliment of my life recently. I had just finished an exasperating two-day planning session. It was the kind of thing where you place yourself in a creative "think tank". My normal day to day life consists of using the logical side of my brain (mostly). I relish these opportunities to use my creative side, i.e., this blog. Yet, I don't think I fully realized the toll it takes on you to focus entirely on that lesser used portion of your brain.
This planning group consisted of a wide ranging demographic selected for either their location, their specialty or their tenure within my industry. They wanted opinions from the "seasoned", the experienced, the novices - east coast, west coast, middle America. No comment as to which specific sector I was selected....
It was equal parts exhilarating and exhausting. BUT...
In group dynamics, there is often the phenomenon of the person who doesn't know when to be silent and when to speak. Our group was dominated by a woman who insisted on speaking her mind, her life, her son, her husband, her work, her team members, her past employers, her current initiatives, her fingernail polish her perfect life.....
Not only was she asserting herself into every possible opening but she was doing it with her perfect little life. Antithesis of mine perhaps?
I was surrounded by allies. There were people in the room who knew me REALLY well and people who knew me through reputation. There were people I had never met but nevertheless we immediately attached to each other like kids ganging up in numbers to fight the bully on the playground.
By the end of the first day, people were kicking me under the table for not standing up to this bully. They had been watching me take notes and they were anxiously awaiting my moment to shut her down - to take control or at a minimum, to just get a word in. I could sense the expectation of others was like a beacon shining squarely upon my shoulders so I began to test the waters. Sticking just my big toe in - I immediately realized I would have to break one of my mother's quantum rules of "being a lady" when I spoke up and talked over her. In order to successfully accomplish this task, you have to speak louder and longer than your opponent. God, my poor mother. What would she think? This isn't just a toe - I'm in this up to my neck! Heaven help us mom, if you were alive, you would have clearly dove in to pull me out just like you did that time when I was seven and you thought I was drowning in the shallow water.
Yet...... I did it. I dove in and I spoke and the water was just as shallow as it was when I was 7 years old. I swam in that water and I had no fear. I was as comfortable in that water as a baby in her mothers womb.
When it came time to leave the next day, the CEO of the organization, walked me to the elevator. I didn't fuss about anything, no big deal, I was elated to have been there. He had no idea (or so I thought) about what I had perceived. He quietly pulled me aside and simply said, "Angela, some people talk a lot - and some people say a lot. You are someone who says a lot." Nuf said.
May you always choose your moments to speak. (Unless it's with your good girlfriends - then you can say anything!)