By now most everyone has read or at least heard about Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article, Why Women Still Can’t Have It All . In fact, while it is only a week old, several people have responded to the original piece with articles of their own. This is not another one of those responses. You will find no commentary here about the merits of Dr. Slaughter’s perspective on the compatibility of working and womanhood. Your personal views on the topic are irrelevant. None of that matters.
Dr. Slaughter’s work, which is more of a manifesto than an article, arguably exposed her family, alienated her friends, and jeopardized her prospects of a future political career. Whether or not you agree with her position, this undeniably took, what I will politely call, courage. (Or what I imagine Julien Smith would call @#$%ing balls.)
This display of courage is something we cannot afford to ignore. We do not see it very often, as of late. Sometimes we do get a glimpse, but then it disappears. Courage precedes the Coral Catshark on the endangered species list. It is in danger of going the way of the dodo. As it stands, most of us have forgotten what courage looks like.
We have chosen to disregard Howard Cossell’s sage advice, “What’s right isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always right.” Instead, we sacrifice our principles at the altar of approval. We move away from The Flinch and don’t Poke the Box.
None of this sounds familiar? Maybe this laundry list of scaredy-cat moves will help jog your memory.
· Shutting down new ideas
· Clinging desperately to habitual behavior
· Avoiding direct questions
· Holding back controversial feedback
· Tiptoeing with clients
· Never saying “no”
· Not drawing the line
· Agreeing mechanically with smiles and nods
The next time something doesn’t ring true, resist the urge to drown it out. For Pete’s Sake, lean into it. I cannot imagine that the stakes are as high for you as they were for Anne-Marie Slaughter. Is taking a stand and doing what you are afraid to do going to throw your family into the limelight, anger friends, and shut-down an entire career path? Doubtful – maybe you’re just chicken.