When accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, Meryl Streep was harshly critical of President-elect Donald Trump.
She spoke up and used the stage and the media to voice her opinions and concerns, which were mainly about how we treat each other.
That takes courage, even for a movie star.
Streep knew that she would run the risk of people spending time on social media saying worse things about her than she said about the President-elect. She knew she could be the subject of unkind articles in newspapers and magazines as the media ceased reporting the news and to write about her instead.
For every word she spoke on that stage, she knew that hundreds of words would be written and spoken about her.
And as people talk about her, even negatively, she will make a difference. What she said will not be unsaid; and she was heard, and more important issues will slip past the media as they compete for the most sensational headlines.
She may even lose a role in a movie over it, yet she spoke up anyway. She will be called names, too.
She is my hero. She is the kind of role model I want for my daughter and for my nieces. She showed leadership and influence and courage.
When it’s comfortable to keep quiet
This week, I talked to people I like and respect who told me that because of their jobs, they cannot speak out against what they believe to be an injustice. Heck, we have people in the real estate industry who are paid to be nice to everyone, and those people cannot do much without sharing it to make their brand look good.
Last week, I watched many people who were named as influencers remain silent while hundreds of others spoke up about an injustice. I would have loved to hear the opinions of all the influencers and leaders.
I also watched a group of people who hardly know each other stick together, speak up, take risks and support each other.
Making money is wonderful, but there should be more to life than income and occupation. We need to have some heart, too.
From a business point of view — there is always business out there. When we speak up, we may lose some clients, but we are also likely to gain some.
Do you ever want to do something because it is the right thing to do? Have you ever helped someone who isn’t in a position to buy a home or help you in any way? Have you ever done something kind without posting the story on Facebook with a selfie?
Could you see yourself contacting Brad Inman and asking him to take you off of a list of top influencers because the list is also honoring people or companies that engage in behaviors that you cannot condone?
Will you ever be a volunteer in your community just to help with a cause you believe in, or volunteer to do something that needs to be done but that won’t get any press? Will you ever make a sign and go on a march because you believe in a cause that your employer doesn’t believe in?
What will you do with your influence?
Not speaking out says volumes, and at times the collective sound of people not speaking out is so loud I cannot hear myself think.
For months, I have been listening to silence from people who will not speak up. They are smart, articulate people who have something to say.
Is there anything worse than not being liked by everyone all the time?
Maybe it is your job to be liked, and that is what they pay you for. That is why you have to belong to a group or organization that doesn’t share your values or the values of your company.
What will you do with your influence? How will you use your leadership ability when your name appears on a list of leaders? Will you avoid any kind of conflict or debate, or will you speak out and maybe even help moderate the conversation?
Will you start a conversation in your own office about how women are sometimes treated at work-related events and how we can all help make events safer and more comfortable for everyone by not being afraid to speak up?
We can say something when we see or hear something. Nothing is ever going to change if people do not start speaking up.
Next time I have a chance to speak up or to influence others, I’ll ask myself, what would Meryl do? Would she speak up, or would she just accept the world the way it is and go count her money and polish her trophies?