I remember hearing theatre director Anne Bogart talk about what she did when an actor would ask her what to do in a certain situation, and she didn’t have an answer. She said she would stand up, declare “I have an idea!” and then slowly walk toward the stage. This way, she knew she had to come up with something by the time she got there.
I always loved that, and I’ve seen it recently in my 5-year old, Dylan. When his sister Marlowe says something funny, he might say “Oh! You know what’s funnier than that even?” and when I say “What, buddy?” I can see his mind working to try to come up with something funnier. Or if we’re in the middle of playing he might say “I have a Really Good Idea!” and when I say “What is it?!”, the same thing will happen. And he always comes up with something.
I love the confidence he has that, just like Bogart, he’ll have an answer shortly. I love the belief that he always has something to contribute. I love his comfort in thinking fast and thinking creatively. I love that he just dives in.
So many of us wait until our idea is perfectly formed in our heads before we speak it out loud. Or we wait until we’re “invited” to contribute an idea. Or we wait until the time seems right.
Waiting is not always bad, of course. Sometimes waiting, and giving yourself time to think, is warranted—preferred, even.
But how often do we wait not because we should but because we don’t believe, deep down, in our worth. In our right to contribute. In our capabilities. We wait because we don’t believe what we say or do will be “right.” Doubt leads to hesitation, and hesitation leads to silence, and silence leads to untold thoughts and ideas that never get the chance to see the light and breathe in what’s possible.
In the end, I think the world needs more Anne Bogarts and Dylans. More people who don’t wait for an idea to be perfect for it to be spoken… that instead boldly say “I have an idea!” even when that idea is not fully formulated, even when it might flop. More people who believe that they do have something to contribute, and that their contributions matter.
(because they do.)
So… today… why wait?
“Why Wait?”, The Leadership Program, 2016