So what if I fail, so what if I look like a fool, so what if no one responds to what I am saying.  I am so strongly convicted about this that I am stepping out.

If I fail, then what would I do, my whole life is based upon this?  If I look like a fool, people will judge me, and not want to be around me.  If no one responds, then my message must not be effective; oh man, I knew it was bad, I knew I should have kept my mouth shut.

Which one of these describes you?  Where do you find yourself?  Whether you are a CEO, janitor, doctor, housewife, telephone operator, or a preacher, we all find ourselves at some point with a message.  Some may feel their message lacks significance, others feel they carry a message of promise, and for others their message reflects a lifelong quest.  We all have one but for one reason or another, most of us don’t step out and deliver it.  This week was breakthrough for me and hopefully it can lead to breakthrough for you.

I was invited to speak at a conference in DC.  Right away I was intimidated, DC, you have to be kidding me!  If they only knew my background, they would never have asked.  Why do these become my first thoughts?  Thankfully I pushed passed them and humbly agreed.  There was no way I could have known that Jim Collins was the first speaker, albeit via video.  He spoke with passion, fire, conviction, and clarity.  The Director of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology followed Jim.  I was sitting at his table before the conference began and I heard him ask someone what he should talk about today.  Either he was woefully unprepared or this guy is so good, he can just come up with something 15 minutes before he speaks.  It turns out that he was incredible.  Very well spoken, very passionate, and very engaging.  Another physician spoke discussing great things she was doing in her medical practice leveraging quality reporting to have a positive impact on her patients and in her community.  Next was my turn.  I was nervous, but strangely calm.  For the first time in my career, I was on the big stage.  There were real movers and shakers in the audience.  Current and former CEO’s of very large and successful companies.  Many physicians with long lists of impressive accomplishments.  I was introduced and confidently walked up.  In the six steps it took me to get to the front, I experienced something I hope I never forget.  I said to myself, “so what if I fail, so what if I look like a fool, so what if no one responds to what I am saying.  I am so strongly convicted about building an effective culture in organizations that I am stepping out.”  My talk went off without a hitch, at least from my perspective.  I didn’t hold back even though there was much risk.  It was exhilarating and rewarding and I cannot wait to do it again.

So many times I would back away from stepping out, stuck in fear of others, stuck in I am not good enough.  Have you ever felt this way? Can you relate to this type of fear?  I would like to relate to you the other side of fear, the other side of worrying what others think.  Your message is important, even if it is only important to you.  The chances are however, that it is important to others as well.  Can I just encourage you to take a small step.  Can you write your message down or make a quick power point and at least deliver it to your two year old over breakfast.  Maybe deliver it to your neighbor who you know will be supportive.  You can do it, you can accomplish much more than you think you can.  You stand for something, you believe in something, and there are others around you who need to see you take a small step of courage and deliver a message that can have impact and meaning. To those of you who have experienced getting past this fear, share your experience with someone who is struggling.  There are enough discouraging thoughts going on in our heads to begin with, encouraging words from someone with experience goes a long way!

Bill Rieger



  1. Heather Haugen | Reply

    I was in the audience and Bill was awesome. Not only does he belong in this group- he is defining it!

  2. Nanette Koch | Reply

    You are an amazing individual Bill and your presentation was awesome! Thank you for “stepping out” and sharing your message! What an opportunity for all of us to learn from your leadership and experiences! Well done!

  3. Honora Roberts | Reply

    In healthcare where regulations dictate so much of how patient care is delivered, Bill’s “stepping out” reminded us all of the things we can control and what a significant difference those make for people around us. Inspiring!

  4. John Lynn - EMR and HIPAA | Reply

    Great post Bill. The best things in life often come from uncomfortable situations. Fear of the uncomfortable is a strong emotion.

    I enjoyed your talk and particularly your idea about the challenge of ROI when you move from electronic to electronic as opposed to paper to electronic. I’ll be writing a post about that idea soon.

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