Why Your Voice Matters
I do not want to help extraordinary people achieve ordinary results. Too much is left in our mutual tanks. To me, “ordinary” is finding a job and then letting that be the culmination of your contributions to the world. Put it this way. You work in a job for ten years (optimistically) and when you leave or are fired or let go you feel like you never really accomplished anything you deeply cared about. You built someone else’s dream and you ignored your own. You’ve spent years talking about topics that drain you rather than those that excite you to share with others or anger you because they have yet to be fixed. To me a life well-lived is one where you vocalized your brilliance and devote yourself to solving the challenges that matter to you.
It’s been years since I’ve helped professionals who on paper appear ruthless and accomplished. The financial contributions I’ve witnessed have been incredible. Accolades for kilometers. My admiration for what I’ve seen people do working for employers even when we both know they are not really invested in their work is undeniably Herculean at times. Yet, behind closed doors, I’ve seen so many people do for others beyond what they would ever do for themselves. For example, I’ve seen professionals talk a great game on behalf of their employer by burning the midnight oil drafting a thought leadership piece yet be terrified about adding a public comment furthering a message they whole-heartedly believe in by way of an online published article.
Voyeurism is the name of the game. Don’t be seen. Speak only when you earn a seat at the table. Some of this comes from years of working in corporate systems that do not want you to harm their reputation or brand but who the heck is looking out for your brand or reputation? Your legacy is on the line. Meanwhile, all of this is common and alive even on the higher rungs of leadership. Actually, up there where the air is thin there are rules of engagement that prevent senior leaders from publishing their own opinions because it may be misconstrued for being the opinion of their employer. I get this. I see this. I know this. But by now I hope you see that you get one shot at life. Can you see that choosing to voice your opinion about the things that matter to you deeply are worth putting yourself out there?
At the root of only reading content but not creating it nor participating is fear. Several flavors of fear keep extraordinary people in ordinary roles and as a result living ordinary lives. I’ll assert that right now perhaps ordinary would be outstanding however now is actually the perfect time to be “unreasonable,” “demanding, and “difficult.” Think about it: people leaders are still gunning for the same high KPIs even if schools are closed. Clarification: to me “online learning for grade school kids translates to schools are closed in my book.” We all know that someone would still need to be on child care duty even whilst online classes are happening for that age group. Plus, the President is modeling for us how to be difficult and even as people are dying so if it’s okay for him then why not use your voice for good and risk being a bit difficult. Therefore, I’ve never witnessed a better time than now to be a bit demanding. Demanding of yourself. So what is it that you may be so afraid of especially in situations where you have an education, income, and a roof over your head? Here’s are some of the big fears that will stop some of the most impactful players at work from speaking up in life or from breathing life into their opinions or life experiences.
- I’m Not An Expert – Sometimes working professionals assume that those who create content or speak up have reached some sort of expertise level that they do not yet have. I’ve heard it all from “I’m not an expert in this topic” or “I don’t have something prolific to say” or “I am unsure if I have the right to express this thought.” The reality is that if you continue to wait until you are knighted to articulate what is on your mind publically then you shall never be heard. You do not need permission in the real world to use your voice. There are no required years of writing experience to write a LinkedIn long-form article. You simply type your message. All you need is this. Your own permission. Write because you matter. Write because if you don’t write your message you will dull that bold part of yourself. You literally have to use your voice as to not lose its power.
- I’ll Be Fired – So why is it that the same extraordinary working professionals will not hit publish? You fear being fired or embarrassed. Let’s review being fired. If you haven’t touched your account for a decade and then decide to suddenly throw a client under the bus then yes you are risking your employment. Alternatively, if you haven’t shared much online and suddenly you start praising a competitor then yes your boss may start to wonder if you are job searching. However, I’m not even talking about those cases, I am talking about things like this: caring about childhood obesity (yes, potentially being connected to some sugary cereal pushers on social media) yet not sharing your authentic thoughts as a volunteer in a teen dialysis center because you are afraid you won’t be liked, you are not a nutritionist, or you’ll have a typo. P.S. look, a tipo. <<<< (also, a guy in Spanish but I digress). Essentially, the cases where you will pull back from your heart’s message because you will then be judged. These are the cases, where I’ve seen extraordinary professionals stay quiet. Play nice to everyone. Mute themselves into an ordinary and silence existence.
- I Can’t Change The World. Another reason why I’ve seen extraordinary professionals play small is that they don’t see the point in putting themselves out there. They will read other thought leaders. They will admire those authors. They will reference their content. Maybe, some will even change their perspective but when it comes to their own voice. They may think: what will even be the point. This is where I see the greatest room for improvement. The point is to not reject yourself. You are alone with yourself all the time. Do you realize that by muzzling your voice or what’s on your heart you are rejecting your own message? Is it possible that your barometer for impact is off? In corporate settings, you have millions of dollars (at times) to market a single message over the course of years. You have teams of people refining that single message. There are millions of media bucks used to support propaganda messages. The market is cluttered with messages so where does your heart-centered message come into all of this? Set yourself up to impact one person. It could be your message that wakes up a tired soul. Your message could be found by a decision-maker who can send your community the one resource it needs to survive. Your words could save a life. Your message matters for goodness sakes! Stop letting this thought from getting in the way of sharing your message. Right now, if you don’t share your message only then will your impact truly be void.