In a perfect world, the best qualified person would earn the job they have. I keep thinking about that assumption as I clean my apartment and wondering how it’s possible that out of all the people who could have been president, we chose an egomaniac who can’t even control his tweeting to do the job. What are the traits that got him in his position and why was it that enough people voted for him to take on that role?
For some reason, it seems like people will simply trust the loudest voice in the room. We get distracted by the certainty of a loud voice that we don't slow down to think about what they're saying or where it's coming from. Because these people don't hesitate to tell us what they think, we believe it. In the workplace, we’re told that “you have to be able to advocate for yourself.”, which is true, advocating for yourself is an effective way to get people to listen to you. The problem with that advice is that it can feel unnatural for some to act that way, at least it does for me, so I’m guessing others might feel the same. The times I have tried to self-promote have made me feel so inauthentic and sleazy, because needing to shout out your successes from the rooftops feels like a cheap win and goes against they story I tell myself that your work should speak for itself.
The most admirable trait to me is a quiet confidence - Someone who has interesting ideas, is deeply reflective, and is willing to set ego aside to find truth in situations. Those with a quiet confidence who become leaders tend to be impactful leaders, because they got there by having the great ideas, not by singing their own praises. They don’t need to do the dog and pony show, they just work their way to the top naturally [at least that's been my experience and opinion].
What I’m getting at is maybe we need to stop giving the advice to elevate yourself, because we’re creating a culture of people whose energy is dedicated to self-promotion when it could be channeled toward ideation, creativity, and innovation. Instead of telling introverts to act like extroverts, what if we asked extroverts to act like introverts sometimes. Be quiet for a moment, listen to the people around you, spend more time thinking about the big picture and less time thinking about personal advancement. Let leaders bubble to the top slowly, intentionally, when earned, rather than shoving their way up.
Last thing, this isn't meant to be a rant about people with big personalities. Oprah, Sheryl Sandberg, and Shakira aren't afraid to speak up and I think those people are great too. I just think the scale is tipped a little so that we're not hearing the softer voices and we're missing out because of it. Balance is always a good thing and because the quiet voices aren't going to get louder on their own, maybe the cultural shift could come from the listeners instead. Considering where we've landed as a country, it feels like it couldn't hurt to give it a shot.
Last last thing, Mom, if you're wondering what the photo above is of, it's just sage, used for cleansing and resetting intentions, which is perhaps why I remembered today that I haven't written in my blog in ages and should make an effort to put pen to paper when I feel like I have a point to make.