When I was 17, I was a passenger in a car. The driver of turbo Monte Carlo drove in excess of 120 miles per hour. We were lucky and lived.
I just sat there and didn’t say anything.
Later in life, I’d see supervisors, and myself at other times, in a moment where speaking up could have changed the course of events for the better, just sit there.
Just sitting there is easier than speaking up.
The social mores, the culture, the chain of command, the power differential, the perceived downsides of saying something and the unknown upside of speaking up…all shout “just sit there.”
I regret little in life. But of the things I do regret, it’s the moments of inaction, when I just sat there and said nothing. When a short persuasive argument, or even a word, would have turned a situation around.
Speaking up is not all rainbows and glitter. Social mores are real. In a senior director meeting yesterday, I spoke up on a budget item others wanted to forget. After the meeting, I was politely chastised for speaking up on the issue.
But I know what it feels like to just sit there.