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Battling a Stutter in the Workplace

Published May 9, 2017

During this time of working towards setting up my consulting and coaching practice, one of the organizations among several that I am feeling led to reach out to are the ones that help groups of adult leaders who struggle with stuttering in the workplace. When I think about my journey over the last 30 years and the investment that was made in me as a teenager with a profound stutter at McDonald’s, I am realizing that not everyone may have that opportunity. That one act of kindness, and seeing something in me that I never would have seen in myself, was life-changing. I would have never seen myself becoming a senior executive at Chipotle, or leading Freebirds as a COO and eventually as President. I can point to one manager, on one rainy night in 1984, who gave me a shot to work front counter. The rest is history.

And while certainly some people have a much worse stutter than I do these days, I understand the struggle, and the struggle is real. The struggle of feeling you aren’t good enough. Or smart enough. Or fast enough. One of the reasons I am convinced I am here at this point and time is to tell people, yes you are. You are all of those things. You matter. You contribute. You are a leader.

So I am contacting various organizations to see what I can do to help some of their group members, and that help might look like coaching, just listening to their story, or sharing my story and providing encouragement. Either way, 1% of the American population stutters and that 1% is going to be in the workplace at some point, if they aren’t already.

So whatever I can do, I’m going to do it. Because I know there are some great leaders out there that are lacking the confidence to do what they were born to do, which is to be a leader.