What is the best advice you have ever received?

Here’s one piece of advice I really appreciated – if you can’t stick your neck out in the meeting don’t stick your tongue out in the hall. Over the last few weeks this phrase has come to mind in several conversations. No one benefits when we avoid sharing our ideas and then complaining about it later on to people who were not at the meeting.

Speaking up can be scary because when we do all eyes turn toward us and judge us. What if we get it wrong, what if we appear the fool, what if no one listens or what if someone steals our idea and takes credit for it? All of these questions run through our mind outside of our conscious awareness. Our brain takes on the role of protector, just like it did in ancient times when we humans roamed the savannah looking for food. The eyes peering out of the grass were predators meant to do us harm, we didn’t want to stand out and be eaten so we took cover.

In our modern world, we no longer face the risk of dying when we step forward, but our brain hasn’t caught on. It is still warning us to play it safe and stay in the background. The good news is we can retrain our brain. It starts with small steps practiced again and again. Once we practice speaking out, we begin to realize we aren’t going to die. Maybe things will go wrong yet saying what’s one our mind is a risk worth taking. Staying silent, then gossiping later, serves no one.

Keep in mind the words of Leo Buscaglia “Risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.”

Share the best advice anyone’s given you as a comment to this post.