In the world of business when a market is saturated it means that everything there is to have is probably already there (in terms of products and services that deliver a certain result). In such environments the competition is fierce. In reality though everyone can deliver pretty much similar skills and results. What makes the biggest difference is the voice of the person that you buy them from.
Outside the business world the situation is pretty much the same. The more we get connected with the rest of the world, the more competition there is. Competition for attention, for recognition. Many of us are stuck in the mentality of safety, where we try to be like everyone else in order to not come in the spotlight and risk being ridiculed. However, if don’t take a risk and show how you are different from everyone else, then you won’t be noticed and guess what – someone else will, because these opportunities don’t stay unoccupied for too long.
You cannot fake your voice. You can’t pretend to be something in order to have a voice. It requires honest and authenticity, especially in the long run and especially if it is to build a healthy and sustainable environment around being a business one or such of people that understand and support you.
It also means you need to have views that you are ready to say out loud, to protect and justify. Sure not everyone will agree, but you don’t need them to. You need the fraction of people that will hear and understand what you have to say, people that will back you up and will want to know more. Then, with their help you can start building something bigger. They will be your tribe.
To have a strong voice you both need to not give a s**t and also to care. It means caring about people, but also ignoring the haters, backbiters and nay sayers because they are not worth it and you have a responsibility to all the others.
Having a voice doesn’t mean you need to be serious in how you interact with others. You can be playful and silly, but you need to be serious about protecting your voice, because it is who you are. If it is under attack you should justify and defend it, not necessarily with aggression but with understand which comes only by knowing yourself.
Freeing your voice
There are some things that you can do in order to either strengthen your voice or find it and let it be heard.
As mentioned previously, you need to know yourself. To focus on the story of your life and what has shaped you to become who you are now. Yes, there will be bitter moments, sweet ones but ultimately if you do not accept and recognize them, you cannot free your voice. All those moments are what gives you the power because they are part of you. Self-denial is a wall, not an empowering engine.
Then it is important to get rid of the thoughts that spring in your mind and tell you that what you have to say is worthless and no one wants to hear it. More than that, people will laugh at you. That is BS, because if you are honest and know yourself, your story then you have something to say. As we said, there will be trolls but then you need to put the wall up and not give a s**t. Listen to everyone else though because it will give you the confidence that what you have to say matters to them.
There is no need for perfection, if your voice was perfect, you would be trying to deliver an illusion. It is your voice, exactly because of the imperfections, so embrace that they make it unique.
“Maybe it’s about stripping away the false personae and excesses since your voice is already there. It’s about returning to who you were before you started believing other people’s stories about you. It’s you. It’s your core.” – Michael Port
“For example, Frederick Banting, who won the 1923 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of insulin’s ability to control diabetes in humans, said in his later years that, if he had been more familiar with the literature and the long history of unsuccessful attempts to isolate the hormone, he might never have undertaken the research that was ultimately successful.” – Michael Port
Your voice is a responsibility. We don’t live to be a matrix-like product that matches everyone else. Sit down, look at your story, the challenges you have faced, the good parts. Each tiny detail adds to a story and that story is what shapes your voice. It is unique, and that’s not just “ok”, that’s how it is supposed to be. Embrace it, be proud of it and share it. You don’t need everyone to jump and be ecstatic because of it. However, the few people that do resonate with it would become a priceless source of partnership, confidence and support.
P.S.: Some great resources that I have seen on the subject of your voice are:
– A recent article by Paul Jarvis called “How Dare You (A lesson on defining your personal brand)”
Both are highly recommended.