There are so many things that prevent us from contributing when given the opportunity. Fear, self-consciousness, feelings of inadequacy, unpreparedness and quite possibly past experiences where contributing was discouraged or even mocked in public. The only way we learn how to contribute is to contribute.
I grew up with brothers and male cousins. I learned very early on that if I didn’t jump right into the mix I would be left out. So I figured out how I could contribute and participate with the guys. That served me well as I started my career in a male dominated field. I had experience speaking up, talking back and fighting for my opinions amongst men. As my career grew I learned how to do it better, in a more approachable manner and without fear.
I had a boss tell me to keep my thoughts and ideas to myself. They said I had to earn the right to speak. They also told me to stop trying to make things better and just go with the process in place, new idea only created more work. After one meeting I sat in the conference room by myself and pondered what I had been told. It hit me that I wasn’t wrong for wanting to make things better, I was working for the wrong boss or the wrong organization, or both. Within six months I had a new job in a new place where they hired me because I had new ideas. I found a place where contributing was valued, no matter what.
Taking the easy road is not always easier. It can leave you behind before you realize it. No ideas shared, no value brought, no reason to keep this person in their role. Being a positive contributor brings energy, experience and advancement in all sorts of ways. Not everyone wants to hear your ideas, that’s okay. At least you had the guts to share them. Get shot down? Then try again. Nothing ever done well always went well the first time out of the gate.