When It’s Worth Telling A Risky Story

There were some new faces around the giant coffee table nibbling on appetizers before Thanksgiving dinner.

One had just finished a story about the different places she’d lived, so I turned to “Joe”—who many of us had just met—and asked him where he was from.

He launched into a fascinating story: he’d been born in Latvia during World War II. His father had been conscripted by the Germans, eventually winding up as a British POW.

When the war ended, Joe and his mother found their way to a European refugee camp, hoping to come to America, when he saw his long-lost father walk into the gates.

That’s as far in the story as he got. His eyes filled with tears and he stopped for a moment. I held his glance and tapped my heart so he knew he wasn’t alone while he centered himself. It seemed that he wanted to continue.

But I suspect the emotion made a few uncomfortable around the table—someone changed the subject and the moment was lost.

Joe wasn’t seated near me at dinner and he left before I could ask if he wanted to finish his story. Maybe he didn’t—there clearly was a lot of pain stored there.

And yet, it hooked me. I wanted to know more.

In our group of 11, maybe only two or three of us were intrigued—but if this had been about business, that would be plenty.

Because as soloists, we aren’t trying to win over the room or the entire world—just our corner of it.

It takes courage to tell those stories that feel risky because you’re sharing a part of yourself you often keep private.

But if it’s in service to the change you want to see in the world, it’s worth stepping forward.

Even if someone changes the subject.

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