If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. —Alexander Hamilton
Justice Thomas shared this perspective to give everyone listening context for the words to come. I thought it an incredibly powerful line and have rolled it around in my head many times since that day often asking myself: what is it to be unapologetically anything? The very nature of the word “unapologetically” invites disagreement. It suggests an absolute position. A line in the sand. It is powerful vulnerability that looks a lot like strength.
In our day to day work lives, where do we choose to be unapologetic? Where do we draw our lines in the sand to clearly mark where we stand? The stakes are high: a wrong position can cost you a job, a customer, an employee, a lawsuit, money, or perhaps a relationship. If you ever wonder about this, try drawing a line in the sand on Facebook or LinkedIn and watch what happens. Social media is a new highway along which we drive in vehicles called Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn. Just like on our physical highways, where people are incredibly bold when wrapped in 2 tons of steel. it is easy to confront, curse, and display appalling rudeness when one feels safe, unreachable. Choosing a position and sharing it publicly makes you vulnerable.
Choosing a position and sharing it publicly makes you vulnerable.
Where do we stand in our work lives? I’m often asked the question: why? Why write? Why start a company? Why take risks? Why choose a particular industry? Why hire a particular person? Why have four children? Why get married at 22? The choices we make highlight the lines we’ve drawn. The positions we’ve taken. As I look back, it is easy to see the pattern in choices I’ve made and my underlying worldview. It is also easy to plot the mistakes and the inflection points where my line in the sand has shifted. That is my story and for it, I feel unapologetic.
In a few weeks, I’ll publish my first book. During the course of pulling it together and discussing it, I’ve discovered a new position for me: I’m unapologetically entrepreneurial. No, this isn’t a religious or political line in the sand. It doesn’t hold heavy social commentary and shouldn’t subject me to particularly intense disagreement. My discovery is one of curious introspection as I continue on this journey. Of course, the position isn’t new. It has informed and influenced my decisions for many years. To recognize it and acknowledge it is liberating. Choosing the path of unapologetically embracing anything is empowering. In the process, you give yourself permission to step into a version of yourself that aligns with something deeper. Perhaps that something deeper is one of your “Why’s.”
For what do you offer no apology? Where do you draw that line for the things that you represent?
For what do you offer no apology? Your beliefs? Your art? Your job? Your family? Where do you draw that line for the things that you represent? Do you stand in that place proudly and unapologetically? Or do you keep a lower, safer profile? Being unapologetic isn’t about imposing your position on another or even trying to move someone to your side of the line. It is taking a principled stand for what you believe while trusting yourself to believe something. We don’t have to expose ourselves to great risks in order to stand for something. Nor do we need to shrink from the responsibility of believing in something no matter how big or small. Though it may be risky to stand for something, I think it’s far riskier to stand for nothing.
So, go ahead, put it out there. Tell us where you unapologetically stand. You may surprise some people or, more likely, you may find that we suspected it all along. Either way, you’ll likely release a set of inner fears tied to being discovered and finally give yourself permission to stand boldly for those foundational elements stirring within.