by Megan Pilla
Every time I hear the words “take a stand”, I think of embarking on lifelong quests, committing to noble causes or choosing a position with which I can take the hill — regardless of the opposition. It’s a statement that, to me, carries a very heavy burden. It’s something with weight, importance and permanence. And honestly, if somebody said it directly to my face, I’d probably smack back in return.
As some of you know, I have a son who has just turned three. As I’m sure your kids do, he teaches me something new every day. And as I thought about this month’s Uncommon Principle something became crystal clear — my son takes a stand about every 10 minutes. Seriously. Just about every 10 minutes he is so convinced about something that he’s ready to embark on a lifelong quest, commit to a cause (noble or not), take the hill and trounce the opposition. Sometimes these stands bring tears to my eyes (and to be honest sometimes they’re tears of joy and other times they’re tears of frustration). Sometimes these stands make me laugh coffee straight out of my nose. And most of the time they send me scrambling for my notebook to scribble down the details so that I can recount each one decades from now when the house is far too quiet.
Yesterday was no exception. As I was making dinner my son was playing with a bunch of pens. One of those pens was from a local acupuncturist who has a logo that looks like a flower. He declared, with the highest level of certainty, that the pen was from the Garden Center at the San Diego Zoo. Of course there is no Garden Center at the San Diego Zoo and I’ve never seen the Zoo give out a pen, but I asked him about it over and over, and each time he insisted that the pen was indeed from the Garden Center at the San Diego Zoo. A few minutes later he used that same pen to draw me a picture. To you or me the picture looks like about 25 lines crossing each other in every direction. But to him those lines made up a picture of me, which he proudly announced with vigor. Like I did with the pen, I asked him to confirm that those lines were indeed a portrait of me and he said “Yes!” with the conviction of a revolutionary in the heat of battle. He went on like this for the rest of the time I was cutting vegetables and washing dishes — each time more passionate and more sure than the last.
As I was getting ready for bed later that night it hit me. I saw him taking a stand over and over again, whether or not those stands made any sense to anybody other than himself. And, he was completely unwilling to be less than passionate about them. He tried each one out, went with it and when it served him no longer, he simply let it go and moved on. But when he was in the moment, each stand filled him up with energy and confidence. He had a spark in his eye and a fire in his belly. He jumped up and down, wanted to tell me all about it, and win me over to his side.
Compare this to adult life. The ehs, it’s OKs, fines, and it’ll dos. The I don’t knows, I don’t cares and ask somebody elses. It sucks when nobody has a suggestion for the company lunch. It’s draining when nobody stands up to take on planning next week’s meetings. It’s lonely when nobody has an opinion on the speech you just wrote. It takes the energy right out the relationship and the room. Milk toast or wall flowers, it’s less than inspiring to be around people unwilling to take a stand on even the most everyday of issues.
I’m not going to say that there isn’t a place for life altering, company changing, culture shattering stands. And whether or not they come with a heavy burden or a sense of impermanence, they are essential forces that make the world go round. But I also think that there’s a place for taking a stand in little ways each day because here’s what I think would happen if we did.
We’d all shake ourselves out of our comfortable, stable, safe routines. We’d move above or below the baseline. We’d engage more fully in every interaction and as a result, I think we’d bring more energy in and take more energy out of everything we do. We’d be more confident and energetic, and we’d radiate those vibes to the people around us. We’d all get a brighter spark in our eye and a hotter fire in our bellies — and who doesn’t want more of that?
So here’s the commitment I’m making to myself, and you’re more than welcome to join me. When I see an opportunity to take a stand, I’m going to take it. It can be about something big or something small, and it doesn’t have to mean I’m taking on a cause for life. In fact, I can change my opinion freely whenever I want. When somebody asks me a question I’m going to dig in and give them my honest opinion even if that means stepping out of my comfort zone. And when I walk by two people debating something, I’m going to tell them what I think — side glance look be damned. Why? Because in a world like that I’ll be fed, I won’t worry about the meetings next week and I’ll have an awesome speech to give.
Try it on for size and let me know what happens.
P.S. When my son says “Garden Center” it actually comes out “Google Center” which, as you can imagine, makes the whole conversation even better.
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