I had a conversation recently about that tricky situation where you want to speak up, and you hesitate.

Maybe there’s a ‘superior’ or authority and you aren’t sure about the hierarchy of power. Maybe you know something is off, and you haven’t found the words yet. Maybe it isn’t your business and you have enough irons in the fire. Maybe you’ve already been burned, so it’s easier to be quiet.

What else? Other reasons why we don’t speak up?

I got this life curriculum in a new job once. I spoke up at lunch, something about why aren’t we recycling paper. That was taken as a criticism from the smarty pants new teacher. Then a parent wrote my department chair a letter complimenting me for whatever, doing my job. So then I was an overachiever. My chair asked me “to lay low” because I was causing animosity. I shut up for six years.

I’ve never felt good about it because I avoided opportunities for leadership. I didn’t hone skills in negotiation and conflict resolution. I didn’t volunteer for things. I became sort of…ordinary. Even after I repaired these relationships and built some cred, I had established the pattern.

When I’m in this place of not speaking up, sometimes there’s a feeling of being inauthentic, of abnegating some kind of responsibility to my place in the world. It’s a missed chance.

One the main coaching conversations is owning your power. How to answer that question, Who Do You Want to Be? Ask it whenever you have to make a tough choice, or any choice really. Call on that powerful, confident, authentic presence in you. The one the world wants.

There are all kinds if tools for this: journaling, core work like planks and sit-ups, yoga asana and breathing practices, vocal warm-ups and singing, having conversations, and of course, calling on your courage and doing it.