It’s been a few months since I have last posted. I had been in a writer’s deep dive immersion exploring, synthesizing, and calibrating my innovative voice. Now I am thrilled to reveal what I have learned about my process with the hardworking men and women that desire a solution to their doubt and fears.
The Harvey Weinstein scandal has been currently front page news for a few days. This scandal reminded me years ago when I was 19, I worked as a waitress. I remember I had to fight to be heard when a restaurant manager would put his hands on my body even after I told him no, chased me into a freezer to try kiss me, and stalked me outside of the restaurant. I complained loudly and fiercely to the owner, promised the manager that the police would be called if he didn’t stop, and eventually he was fired.
I was also told by the owner I was too dramatic because I complained too much. Come again? I stopped a predator and somehow this is my fault? This is another reason why some women and men don’t come forward because we often put other’s needs before ours. We learn from experiences that “teach” us to be more compliant in the workplace, demand cool and calm professionalism (never get excited if a crime is in the process of being committed), and you can always quit if it’s “too bad.”
I was very clear at 19 that no man had the right to touch me, my father was at home dying of terminal disease, and my mother lived in another state. My co-workers simply avoided the conversation and said to just stay away from him (the manager).
How long could I really be invisible at work? How long can anyone avoid a predator they work for? That’s not realistic. That’s not a plan and it’s by no means an innovative solution. I didn’t exactly have an ideal support network, there was no human resources, no advocate, and no mentor.
However, I did know that what he did was wrong and it was up to me to take care of myself. The owner seemed unconvinced in the beginning, so I convinced him. Did I forget to mention the manager had a sexual assault conviction and he was out on probation? We (the hostesses, waitresses, or kitchen staff) the women of the restaurant were never told before he was hired. I was told 6 months later after he was arrested for violating his probation that he had harmed another woman. I took no joy in hearing that news.
Brené Brown, author & researcher reminded us that the base for the word of courage is Coeur or Heart and in order to live courageously it means to live wholeheartedly.
I have learned to stand up myself and sometimes in very dysfunctional professional settings in my career. I also earned the reputation of a loose cannon, a drama queen, or a noisemaker in those arenas. Why? Because if the squeaky voice gets the grease it also gets the blame.
I’ve learned to address my tone so it’s more professional (who hasn’t had to improve their sense of professionalism and communication). I’ve also learned what my triggers are before I become “upset.”
Lastly, most importantly I’ve learned to value and appreciate my voice, my whole voice. My voice is courageous, kind, wise, and encouraging. I also accept full responsibility for my actions and apologize when necessary. That is difference between a loose cannon, a drama queen, or a noise-maker vs. a professional. A professional seeks improvement and doesn’t complain because it’s fashionable. This is where my innovative voice has been integrated in my mind, my body, and in my life.
My innovative voice happened because I was able to calibrate my mind to my heart and the results are amazing. I no longer struggle with guilt, old tapes of good girls stay quiet and don’t raise their voices, or feel powerless like nothing is going to change.
Innovation is often seen as a new way to solve a problem that is remarkable and simple. Yes! I quite agree my innovative voice knows what it wants to say and how to say it! I no longer struggle with how I can make everyone like me when I have unpopular news? How can I defend myself when someone tries to gaslight me or bully me?
I now understand that I struggled with two issues 1) what I know needed to be said and 2) how could I effectively be heard and seen? I learned that the sound of my voice as I have been told is comforting, delightful, and thoughtful. I have also been told I am enthusiastic, hilarious, with a keen intellect. Lastly, I celebrate that I am courageous and innovative enough to find my balance.
Let all of us seek our balance so we do not swallow our pride, hide out of fear, and believe that we must endure what’s clearly a problem.