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Think Less. Speak Up More.

Do you have a lot of things you want to say, yet sometimes you’re afraid to speak up? Maybe you feel uneasy speaking to groups, have a hard making a clear point or worry about what people will think.

Here is what I want you to know: Your ideas matter.

Want to make an impact? It’s time to think less and speak up more.

Let me share a personal experience. Five years ago I attended a workshop at the Gestalt International Study Center (GISC) on Cape Cod. We were learning how to be better people and professionals through a concept they call “well developed/less developed.”

Here’s how it worked. First, we gathered in groups of three. Second, we identified a personal trait that we saw as a problem. Finally, we had to turn that “problem” into an expertise.

The problem I came up with: overthinking ideas and rarely or never sharing them.

One of the group members asked me, “How does over-thinking serve you in a positive way?”

This question made me pause. Over-thinking can be helpful?

See, big ideas and solving problems excite me. So, I spend a lot of time thinking. Sometimes my brain feels so full I imagine smoke billowing from my ears just before my head explodes.

With the help of this peer group, I realized that over-thinking does in fact have an upside. It allows me to analyze problems from all angles and come up with solutions others might miss.

In that moment I became an expert at analyzing problems from all angles.

Finally, my group members presented me with a challenge for development: Turn some of the thinking into action even if the thought or idea isn’t fully formed.

Although my insides stirred a bit, I accepted the challenge. After all, what good is attending a personal development workshop if you’re not going to do the work?

So, I committed to sharing my ideas more during group interactions and social conversations. Each time my stomach turned less and less.

For some people speaking up is hard.

(Side note: If that’s not you, great! Keep in mind, though, it might be for some of the folks you work with. Be sure to include all voices in a meeting or conversation.)

Yet, sharing ideas is incredibly important if you want to get ahead, find new clients or feel like your work has purpose. That experience a few years ago taught me three important lessons. I share them with you below with the hope that you, too, will commit to think less and speak up more.

Lesson #1: Thinking too much is mentally exhausting!

While it’s impossible to stop thinking altogether, sometimes it’s important to press pause on thinking and share ideas more. What ideas are stirring in you? Can you take one small step to get them out of your head?

Lesson #2: Ideas don’t have to be fully formed to put them into the world.

At the workshop, one group member suggested that sharing thoughts when not fully formed provides a starting point for others to brainstorm and contribute. What an incredible benefit to everyone. How can your voice become a catalyst for others to brainstorm and contribute?

Lesson #3: The Right Support Matters

Having the right people around to question assumptions and provide feedback can make life and work challenges more manageable. What support do you need to think less and share ideas more?

The Bottom Line:

Thinking less and sharing ideas more requires deliberate effort. When you have the courage to get ideas out of your head and into the world you boost credibility, visibility and influence. And that is something worth talking about.

Your turn to talk to me!

  • What ideas are stirring in you?
  • How can you take one small step to turn them into reality?
  • What support do you need to make it happen?

Leave a comment to join the conversation!

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About the blog

Insights for leaders who are tired of formal protocols stifling their personality and ideas.

Here we get at the heart of what it means to "be yourself" in any business setting.

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