I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately.
Courage seems to be a vital ingredient to so many of the things that are most important to making a real difference through our work and in our lives.
That’s because courage is only necessary in the face of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn’t feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive. – Brene Brown
Feeling vulnerable creates a fear response. That usually means we stop and retreat.
We don’t take that risk.
We don’t say what needs to be said.
We play it safe.
And, the opportunity to make meaning and create change passes us by.
Courage is taking action in the face of vulnerability and fear.
To become more courageous requires practice. And one of the easiest places to start is by asking more questions.
I’m not sure if it’s because I am naturally curious or I just didn’t know better, but I’ve found that asking questions is one of the most powerful tools you have to make a difference.
As you sit in a meeting at work and the person talking is presenting information that either you don’t understand or doesn’t make sense, ask the question.
“I’m sorry to slow us down, but could your back up for a minute. Can you share a bit more about X and how that works? I am not sure I understand.”
I know, I konw. You don’t want to expose yourself as not being a rocket scientist and it’s easier to sit there and pretend you understand what is being said like everyone else in the room.
Don’t do it. Ask the question.
My experience in nearly every case has been that one of two things will happen (often both).
- The person presenting will say, “thanks for asking that question, I am happy to go through that in more detail.” Regardless of their response, this additional context creates greater understanding for everyone in the room and makes for a more productive conversation.
- Afterwards, people will approach me or send an email saying “Thanks for asking that question. I wasn’t really undertanding what they were talking about either.”
Asking the question can make you feel vulnerable. Ask it anyway. Ask it for everyone in the room.
Because asking a great question doesn’t make you look incompetent, it proves you are are smart.