Be a Little Controversial

I recognize that ‘little’ is relative but isn’t almost everything.

Are you up to creating a controversy? Do you prefer melting into the backdrop? Can you do both, in different circumstances?

I have been trying to play against my tendencies for the past year. When I am asked to make a commitment I reflectively decide easily, but maybe not well. So I have been forcing myself to ask if I can take time to reflect and consider the question. Folks that know me well have been surprised by the request but were gracious in their response.

My gut almost always leans towards contrarianism. I look for another perspective in discussions and debate. I intentionally provoke when it would be gentler and easier to just go along with the flow. My preference is to stir the pot. One of my proudest days was when I was called an ‘advocatus diablo’ an ‘agent provocateur’ and a shit disturber by three different leaders, in the same meeting. So I have tried to be more agreeable. I haven’t been as successful at shifting the tendency here but I am working on it.

An offshoot of the contrarian practice is seeking the spotlight. Over the past 20 years. I have found ways to place myself at center stage with heads and ears turned my way. In the last couple of months, I am striving to deflect attention, share credit (and blame) and be in the pit or backstage far more often. In public sessions, I have stayed at the back and even when I knew I could stir, I didn’t ask difficult or ridiculously hard questions, just to have you and I hear my voice. (I see the irony of continuing to post on one or many blogs and leadership sites, daily).

So I invite you to consider picking up the slack. Is there an issue, a leader, and problem that requires some intentionally controversial rhetoric? Have you wanted to say something but thought “it isn’t my place” or “someone else will speak up” or ” what will happen if I ask this question?”. I am not going to speak up today and hopefully not tomorrow so I leave space for you and offer permission, such as it is, for you to ‘speak your mind and heart’. If you accept this window to be controversial then you need to hold fast to Illegitimi non carborundum (don’t let the bastards bring you down). There will be resistance and naysayers are practised at loud and hurtful responses. In the moment you may feel embarrassed but if you stay the course, you will be remembered and isn’t that the real and honest motivation for getting up every day.

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. Colin Kaepernick
Trust your own instincts, go inside, follow your heart. Right from the start. go ahead and stand up for what you believe in. As I’ve learned, that’s the path to happiness. Lesley Ann Warren


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