Do you bite your tongue because you’re worried that you’ll offend someone? Or, make a bad impression? Or, be rejected or ostracized? These fears are common, and sometimes appropriate. But, they also stem from our perceptions of our own influence. In the TED Talk by Adam Galinsky, he talks about being able to speak up about what matters to you is dependent on whether you own your power.

The key is to “Be a ferocious mama bear and a humble advice seeker. Have excellent evidence and strong allies. Be a passionate perspective taker. And if you use those tools…you will expand your range of acceptable behavior.” – Adam Galinsky

In the course of this TED Talk, the point is made that it’s important to neither under or over estimate our own power when making the decision to speak up. But mostly, I got the impression that more frequently than not we underestimate our own power. Further, that you are most likely to own your power when advocating for others.

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Right now, it can seem dangerous to speak up as a government employee. The environment is chaotic. There’s a lot of finger pointing. And, I’d venture to say a fair amount of scapegoating. So now, more than ever, I can understand not wanting to speak up.

But, as government employees our jobs are truly to care for the good of the American public. To be good stewards of their tax money. And, to compassionately remember that we are their defenders and advocates. While it is possible to remove a government employee from a job, we enjoy certain protections in our positions that provide us the security to speak up when we see things that aren’t right.

And the good news is, we don’t have to do this alone. Part of our power comes from those who are our allies and the social support we seek out.

In a recent talk by Dr Elaine Newton at the Association for Talent Development conference, she talked about the challenges and opportunities we face in navigating the recent administration transition. In the course of that discussion, members of the audience commented that part of how we will make it through this transition successfully (regardless of which side of the political spectrum you fall) is to come together as professionals. To support each other. To share resources.

So own your power. And, let’s be ferocious mama bears for our country. Or, start where you are and speak up for your team.