Becoming unstoppable

Have you ever been betrayed by a coworker during an important meeting?  Maybe you’ve been burned by a scenario like this…You and a coworker are talking together about an important topic that your boss is considering.  You both have strong feelings that this important topic is a bad idea. The boss asked you and your fellow coworker to be part of a team to examine this important topic. Your boss calls for a meeting to discuss this important topic.   Both you and your coworker are convinced it’s time to let the boss know that this important topic is a bad idea.

It doesn’t take long after the meeting begins before this important topic comes up.  You are sitting next to your coworker, who you are convinced has “got your back” on this topic.  Because there’s strength in numbers, you carefully but courageously let your boss know that you think this new topic is a bad idea. Your boss is shocked by your reaction- so shocked that the boss asks if anyone else in the room shares your opinion about this important topic.  You are certain that this is the moment your coworker will also let the boss know how exactly how they feel about this important topic.  That’s when it happens… Your coworker clams up!  You were stunned by his or her lack of backbone. By their silence, they just sold you out.  

 Anybody who has been in a situation like this will naturally become gun shy the next time a controversial subject comes up in a meeting. Anybody who has been burned by a coworker will naturally start to hold their opinions to themselves or stop trusting the people that you work with to say what’s on their mind. It’s perfectly natural to fade into the background after being burned like this.  This leads to a personal dilemma. Based on this scenario, it looks like you’re the only person on the team who is willing to tell the boss when you think an idea is going to backfire. However, you also recognize that if you don’t tell your boss that the idea is bad, it’s surely going to affect everybody on the team when it backfires.  If you are both honest and care about the team, you now find yourself in a very challenging dilemma. What’s an honest person to do?

No one wants to be a pushover at work.  However, few of us want to be the only dissenting voice in the room. The struggle is, how do you maintain your convictions even when you have been sold out by a friend at work? Here are a few thoughts about how to become an unstoppable force for the good of the organization:

Pursue a mission

The first and most important step to becoming an unstoppable coworker is to pursue a mission with your time and energy. In other words, don’t just go to work for a paycheck… Invest your life in making a difference.  Sometimes, you can be the only voice of reason in the room. Sometimes your willingness to stand up and to speak out can get the attention of everyone else in the room. Maybe your willingness to challenge an idea will cause your team at work to start to look at things differently and identify a problem before it becomes a crisis.

The people how only go to work for a paycheck will never accomplish anything of lasting value. The guy or the gal who only cares about his or her comfort and security at work will not stand up and speak out against a bad idea.  The reason why many people will sell you out at work is because they are only in it for a paycheck.   If you are a man or woman pursuing a mission, you will be willing to rock the boat a time or two if it makes the organization better in the long run.

There is a great story in Acts 5:35 in the Bible about a guy named Gamaliel who was willing to rock the boat a little bit. The religious leaders of Israel were concerned about a group of guys who were teaching the people a message that was seriously undermining their authority.  This group of high-powered leaders met together to decide how to eliminate these men who were a threat to their authority. This is the point where a Rabbi named Gamaliel rocks the boat by challenging the high priest’s thoughts on this group of guys. Gamaliel has guts!  Gamaliel is a man pursuing a mission.

Work with passion

People follow passion. You have to throw yourself into what you do in order to become an unstoppable force at work. There are going to be a few times at work where you just can’t ride the fence on an issue. You have to make a stand.  I’m convinced that your boss and coworkers need to know that you are the kind of man or woman who is going to stand up for what you believe in. This kind of consistent behavior at work may be a pain in your boss’s neck from time to time, but it also makes you a person worthy of trust. Be passionate about getting the right things done the right way at work. Follow the courageous example of Gamaliel here.

Gamaliel was willing to consider what no one else in the room was willing to consider in Acts 5:38-39. All of the other religious leaders automatically assumed that these men were teaching   an ungodly message. However, Gamaliel was willing to ask a question that no one else in the room was willing to ask. He was willing to consider, perhaps the other guy’s message was right and his message was wrong. Gamaliel used the test of time to determine whose message is accurate. He understood that only by God’s power could a message last long after the messenger is gone. Give Gamaliel props for this. He was a man with a passion to get the message right. He was even willing to consider whether his message was wrong and the other guy’s message was right.  

Expect problems

Frankly, the previous two steps to becoming an unstoppable force at work are easy compared to this one.  I’m convinced that you will suffer for making a stand when no one else will or speaking out when everyone else is silent.   Acts 5:40 describes an extreme form of problems as a result of speaking the truth. Apparently, these religious leaders were unwilling to listen to Gamaliel. Apparently, they were unwilling to consider that the message these other guys were teaching was right. In order to stop the message from spreading, they ordered these men not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore. To drive this point home, they beat these men severely.   The word flogged in Ask 5:40 describes a severe beating. These men were beat severely for being willing to stand up and to speak out about their faith.

It amazes me that these guys were able to take the beating and not back down. It’s natural to ask if you or I would be willing to handle the kind of opposition that these guys experienced in Acts 5:40 and then respond the way they responded in Acts 5:41. Did you notice the word rejoicing in this verse?  It blows my mind how these men were able to handle this kind of physical abuse so well. The only explanation for their response to this severe beating is that Jesus prepared his followers for these kinds of problems beforehand. Therefore, when they experienced this severe beating, they were ready for it. This small, hand-picked group of Jesus’s followers became and unstoppable force. It is now 2000 years later, and their message continues to spread all over the globe. No one and nothing can stop this message. And when the messengers are passionate about this message and willing to live their life with a mission to get the message out, they become unstoppable as well. In the office, at church or in your community, these same three steps make anyone and unstoppable force for good!

Further reading

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Why injustice is your fight

It's time for you to stand up and speak out against discrimination. If not, what prevents others from doing it to you in the future?