This week’s blog explores how to advocate for ourselves and others. This is not an easy thing to do; it seems to be getting harder and harder.
I am going to break this into three parts: advocating for your health, for yourself and for others.
Over the past two months, I have had several things occur that have brought this topic to the forefront. I hope that this will help you be more comfortable with speaking up and advocating for what you believe is important and right.
Advocating for your health…
There is no one more in tune with how you feel than you. Whether it is physically or emotionally, you have the best insight period.
However, we often forget that and abdicate that knowledge to our doctors and the overall healthcare system when we are ill.
Over the past two months, no fewer than three people have been seeing a healthcare provider for not feeling well, and after years of bringing it up, it was found to be cancer. Although the details were different, the pattern is the same.
These people are smart and are strong advocates, generally, but when it came to their health, they deferred to the medical system, that in their mine had more knowledge.
I completely get that. I have been there, as well. I had a doctor tell me my exhaustion was due to depression when I pushed back and stressed that I wasn’t depressed he tried to talk me into it. It turned out I had a Vitamin D deficiency. Big difference.
What I learned is that the healthcare system and our doctors are overtaxed, and they are trying hard to understand your symptoms and fit it into their experience and knowledge. It isn’t intentional. They want to heal you. They are passionate about that. However, they are overwhelmed and overworked. Therefore, you can get a better outcome if you advocate and treat the interaction as a collaboration towards health.
Next time you’re having an ongoing issue or even a cold, you know best how your feeling against your typical wellness. Opening your mind to collaborating with your medical professional and asking questions will help get a better outcome.
If a medical professional brushes it off, stand firm, and advocate for yourself. Explain that this is not normal, and you need help finding answers. Also, educate yourself on symptoms and even treatments.
Advocating for yourself…
Advocating for yourself often feels awkward. Like we are marketing or bragging about what we are doing. I completely get that. As a woman, we tend to want to be secretly found out that we are fantastic, while our male counterparts are shouting their amazing talents from the rooftops. 😉
For example, I had this man working for me. I assigned him to a difficult challenge. The next day he comes back and starts with “ this is what I am going to do for you to fix it …” I was amazed at the confidence and the fact that he personalized the fix to his capability.
So how can you advocate for yourself and not feel like it calls the wrong attention to you?
- Be authentic in everything you do
- Build relationships with your manager, peers, and colleagues in the organization
- Take time to catalog your skills and establish your sense of worth, use it to build your brand through consistency and clarity for yourself
- Do great work and also share credit in achieving the outcome
- Be positive, be helpful and solve business problems
Establishing yourself as a team player, someone who gets challenging work accomplished positively, builds relationships, and doesn’t get pulled into the drama, creates a brand around you.
That brand allows you to advocate for your career and open up conversations on what you want in your career to include types of assignments for growing.
Advocating for others…
As a leader, one of the most significant responsibilities I have is to grow talent in the organization. To do that, one of the things that are required is advocating for others and finding opportunities for them to stretch and grow.
However, in this context, I want to share how we advocate for each other when you see injustice in the world around you.
This is hard because it can be seen negatively on you to bring an issue up. But think about this, “what if everyone looked away?”
I was driving one day and saw a man beating a woman on the side of the road. I was still young enough to have no fear, because I slammed on my breaks, pulled over, and intervened. I also called the police. I look back now and wonder would I do that now, given all I know. I hope my answer to yes, is true.
If we think about the scenarios of bullying, abuse, racism, or any other situation where someone isn’t being heard or is being marginalized, we can come up with a plan and also feel comfortable on what we will do so we don’t passively allow this to continue.
- Think about a situation that you would want to advocate for someone
- Play the scenario out. Do you engage during or after?
- Who and how do you advocate for a change, so it doesn’t happen again. Is there a coalition you can build
- How do you become a positive, unyielding force of change
Advocating and advocacy are so very important if we want to have happy and successful lives.
As a leader, friend, spouse, family member, colleague, etc., getting comfortable with advocating for yourself and the world around you makes a huge impact to change the world around you positively. Advocating is a powerful method for change.
Be an advocate to thrive in life and Shine Brightly!