Sometimes keeping a promise means being the only one in a room who is willing to step forward.
There are many situations in life where our values are tested against the tide of popularity. Embarrassment, fear and hesitation ask us to stay put and stay quiet. That could include moments of conflict like when…
- Someone is bullying another person.
- A stranger uses the N-word.
- A family member is texting and driving.
It can be hard to speak up in these situations. How do we motivate ourselves to do what is right when the moment is so uncomfortable?
Here are some habits and tactics that can support you when you have to stand alone.
1. Start associating nervousness with integrity
From Founder, Alex Sheen, “Back when I started because I said I would, I would get nervous stepping on stage in an arena packed with 10,000 people. I used to imputatively interpret that feeling of nervousness as incapability. ‘If I feel this nervous, I must not be good at this.’ But that simply wasn’t true; I was misinterpreting my body’s reaction to the moment. I started telling myself ‘This feeling of nervousness means you’re about to do something meaningful.’ I had to keep reminding myself to reinterpret this feeling in a more productive way.”
“That is the same thing I do when I feel nervous to be the only one to step forward when I witness an injustice. I tell myself ‘This feeling of nervousness means this is a moment for integrity.’ It’s like Spiderman’s spidey sense; somewhere along the way he had to figure out what that feeling actually meant and interpret it properly. Same thing here. I feel nervous in many situations when I need to speak up for what is right. But I have changed my perspective on what that feeling means and it has helped me a great deal in choosing the better path.”
2. Remember your heroes
There is a good chance that one of your heroes had to stand alone somewhere on their journey. Before their notoriety, they did what was right when no one else would. Remember that person on the day when life asks you to act. Is your hero just an image or superficial answer to some ice breaker question…or do you actually share their values enough to emulate them?
3. Acknowledge that people are probably thinking the same thing
You might be the only one to act. But remember, there are a bunch of people around you thinking the same exact thing. They want to act and do what is right; they just may lack the courage. You may be alone in action, but you are not alone in thought. Tell yourself “If I step forward I bet other people will support me. This is the right thing to do.” But you need to be prepared if you find yourself standing alone. Remember, your values are far more important than the frail shell of popularity.
Thought-Provoking/Discussion Questions for You, Your Team or Family
- What positive changes do you think would happen to the world if people were more committed to their own beliefs?
- Have you ever witnessed someone standing alone in doing the right thing? What happened in that situation?
- Do you think people should be held accountable for just standing by and watching while bad things happen?
- What do you think it says when society values popularity over morals? How do you think that comes to be?
We need more people in the world who have the courage to do what we all know is right. However, that is easier said than done. Start developing the habit of standing alone in small-stakes situations and build your strength from there. Don’t feel too guilty for past mistakes; focus that energy on how you can improve in the future. We all have moments we are not proud of, where we wish we would have done things differently. That is part of the human experience. If you’re really interested in this topic, check out the animated video below about the Bystander Effect. We put a bunch of time into it and hope you like it!