No one knows

Seeking out advice is seductive, because it feels like we’re making progress.

What we’re often doing, however, is trying to avoid deciding. More specifically, we try to avoid taking responsibility for a decision made that might end up embarrassing us. Feeling like a failure. Publicly ostracized.

In our noble quest to avoid deciding, we prioritize information-gathering, not failing, learning as much as we can, and all manner of good-sounding excuses that do nothing but prevent us from living the life we want.

What we should instead prioritize and value is courage, decisiveness, conviction, power, intent, resolve, and clarity. These things only come from being in the habit of both deciding and being willing to accept the result of what we decide. There’s no way around it.

My interests are many and varied. My friends and advisors and mentors know certain aspects of my character, but virtually no one understands how these things come together to form who I am.

My business partner doesn’t know that I write poetry, my musician friends don’t know (or care) that I build servers, my parents have no real idea what I do to make money, and only a handful of people know about my interest in improv, standup comedy, and singing.

Even if I took a week to explain everything about myself and my interests, you’d never understand what it felt like when I wrote this post or when I went on this trip or when I got off the plane five months ago (!) for my relocation to Argentina or why I sometimes work late into the night until my eyes burn.

And that’s fine.

But it means that I can never ask someone if I should attend conference x or move to country y or join club z. Not only do I disregard whatever feedback I’m given and do what I was going to do in the first place (you do it too, don’t front)…it’s both pointless and the manifestation of me trying to stall.

Courage isn’t developed in the shadows, nor are nerves of steel fortified behind closed doors. It happens on stage with your palms sweating while the voice of doubt in your head is the only thing louder than the applause of the crowd that you don’t notice because you’re petrified.

The fear is worse than the failure.

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.

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