How To Be Heard

It takes time. It takes effort. But, it is everlasting.

If you have ever felt like your ideas gain zero traction with your superiors, I’ve learned from experience that by implementing the following two points you will see a difference in how you and your superiors view your ideas.

Earn Their Ear

Take two employees. Both suddenly get the same idea. The first employee doesn’t have the best metrics at work. He’s late more often than he should, and doesn’t usually speak up. The second employee makes and effort to crush any project he’s given and his metrics speak for themselves. Which one do you think will be heard? Earn the trust.

I’ve learned I need to earn the ear of my superior. In my position, I simply don’t make a lot of the bigger decisions, although I still may feel I can make an impact. I’ll work hard and smart. Crush the assignments given to me and my team. Consistently put out great content and have great metrics. Throughout this whole process i’m earning the ear of my superior. Now, when an idea comes, they stop and listen.

It takes time. It takes effort. But, it is everlasting.

A Piece, Rather Than The Pie

So often when I get an idea I feel like it’s the end-all and be-all of a specific issue. Or, if it’s not implemented and acted upon then it is a failure. Huge mistake.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned so far this year is my ‘brilliant’ idea I think I have that I’ll share with my boss very well might not happen or gain any traction. However, it’s purpose is still invaluable. The fact that I shared my idea is worth it. My idea could pop up in my bosses head later down the road when another issue presents itself. A part of it could be remembered by a coworker when they have their own issue arise. Just because my idea doesn’t become the pie, doesn’t mean it serves a purpose as a piece, however that piece is used.

Eating Last

Leadership is about making people feel safe. When someone feels heard, they feel safe.. Leaders will sacrifice for you and expect nothing in return. – Simon Sinek

If you have not read Simon Sinek’s new book Leaders Eat Last, or at the very least have watched him talk about it here, then I implore you to do so. Below is how it’s changed my life on a professional level.

Leadership is about making people feel safe. When someone feels heard, they feel safe.. Leaders will sacrifice for you and expect nothing in return. – Simon Sinek


Leaders get the adornments of what a fancy leadership title brings, but it comes at a cost. The cost for me has been accountability, and providing safety. If our team does not hit our goal, it’s on me. If my team is going out on a limb in our company and trying a new project and that project falls flat, that is on me. If someone, no matter how often they speak up, talks to me, it’s my honor to genuinely listen, and acknowledge them.

Once I embraced this concept and dove in head first, our team has grown together and overall it’s been outstanding. I treat my team as if their livelihood is my responsibility. Their personal development, duties, and then the outcome of their execution is on me. Their need to feel safe, is my honor.

It’s about providing those who I care deeply about, my team, a space. To open up, to share, to leap, and to fail. Do yourself the honor of eating last, and you will see wonders.

Motivation – The Fool’s Bet

Zig Ziglar the author and world renowned speaker says motivation is a lot like showering. It’s useful, but it doesn’t last, so you need to repeat it often.

Motivation stems from the Latin root word movere, to make move. It can be frustrating to think that as leaders we need to constantly be motivating a team to give it their all and give their best work. I’m here to say there is another way.

Nothing outside of us will make us move for a sustained period of time. It comes from within. It comes from a choice we make to know our why and then be converted to it. So for any given project, process, or event you’re leading first ask yourself and then your team if you truly understand your why, and if you are committed to it.

Motivation is a fool’s bet because it does not last, is not genuine, and does not move the world. I challenge us to take a step back, ask ourselves and our team if we truly get our why, and ask how converted we are to making a change.

Worried about the how? That is something we each get to figure out on our own. Focus on the why and know the how will come.

Speak Your Truth

In the early 1600’s Sweden rose to a world power in part due to their grand navy. At the time, the King was Gustav II Adolf who was known as a charismatic leader and a brilliant tactician.

Gustav decided to create a ship named the Vasa for himself and so he assigned the finest shipwrights around the country to come help build this surely eminent ship fit for the King of Sweden.

One day during the build Gustav passed by the ship when he notice the size. It was so small! At the time the shipwrights had laid down most of the ribs of the ship, and so to make the ship even more grandiose they would need to unfasten the ribs and start over again. Gustav said “No.” He told them that instead of unfastening everything, to just keep adding to the ribs of the ship and make it longer. Upon hearing this, every shipwright knew that was foolish, shortsighted, and would ultimately lead to a skinny long ship. Regardless, they did it because no one would dare speak up to the King.

At this time, it was custom for a ship to have only one row of cannons. Gustav told his shipwrights he wanted three. Not only did the shipwrights go along with that suggestion, but they were told to put the heaviest cannons on top, as Gustav suggested.

On August 10th, 1628 the Vasa set sail as a long, skinny and top heavy ship. People came from all around to watch the event. The shipwrights spared no expense on the finishing touches and the ship had all the finest trimmings. As it made its way through the port all the people cheered. The sailors were beaming, and Gustav could not be more proud. After it left the port, it sailed for a total of 4,200 feet before it tipped over. Water rushed in through the ports, and it sank to the bottom of the sea.

Here Gustav created an environment where those who really knew were too afraid to speak their truth. Wherever we’re at in our lives we will always have people that report to us (coworkers, children, etc.) and people that we report to (a spouse, bosses, etc.)

As we reflect on those we work with and communicate with throughout the day, are we making sure we speak our truth? Is there open communication with a sense of humility (being teachable) so those around us who really know can open up and speak up?

Remember to speak your truth, and let others do the same.