Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Finding Your Voice
Finding your voice
When I left a corporate job a few years ago to begin consulting, I imagined the difficulties I would face alone out there in the ‘real world’. I was excited and scared – they actually feel pretty similar. In looking back, I had much to learn both about what I loved when working by myself, and what I missed when I left that organization.
A few years later, I spoke to a top executive about this change and he asked me what part of it had been the most difficult. Now, a lot of things are difficult when moving from a world where you are a part of a powerful whole… to being the completely responsible whole. Some things are tactical – I have to book my own meetings, organize my own schedule, make my own sales calls. Some are more strategic – deciding what to work on, what my vision for my business (and therefore myself) is, and how I most want to serve my clients.
My answer to his question was this: the hardest part of being out on my own was finding my own voice.
I was exceptionally good at writing and speaking in the voice of the organization, about organizational goals and considerations and risk mitigation. Now I had to decide how I wanted to speak for myself. I thought it would be easy. After all, I had spent some time (usually on those days when things at work were not going my way) dreaming of all the ways I was going to be speaking my own truth when I was no longer bound by an organization.
I forgot to consider that there is a comfort in writing (and working) together with others. There is an ease in knowing you do not carry the entirety of the end product by yourself. And there is a comfort to knowing that no matter how complex a file, someone else will help (through potentially innumerable rounds of edits and re-writes) to find clarity and share the responsibility for what ends up being created. The freedom of creating my own work without that support structure suddenly felt daunting rather than freeing.
So I did what I have done with other things that are important but scary. I put off writing and speaking in favor or other business work. Now, that other work was also important but I had a voice in my head and heart that wanted out and I wasn’t having any of it… because I wasn’t sure of it or what it wanted to say.
I wish I could tell you that I had a sudden AHA moment when my purpose and vision and voice all aligned and clarity came easily. Unfortunately, that was not how it happened. What I discovered was both encouraging (because it was within my control) and discouraging (because it was going to take work). Finding your voice takes practice. What I needed to do to find my writing ‘voice’ was , simply put, to write. What I needed to do to find my speaking voice was similarly obvious - to speak. And I needed to do this before I was completely clear or ready or completely sure of myself.
Because my voice just would not reveal itself unless I used it.
I’m still working on both the practice of uncovering my voice and my truth and putting it out there for the world to see. It is a scary feeling pretty much every single time. It is an ongoing process. It takes courage to publish something that I take full responsibility for. It is difficult. And yet… it also feels like I am getting closer with every piece I put out there – closer to myself and hopefully… closer to connecting with you.
So as I go on, I look forward to continuing the work of finding my voice – and hoping to connect with you and your voice.