I came across a statement several months ago by Melinda Gates that struck a chord and that I keep coming back to: “A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.”
When I considered this, it occurred to me that I’d never really ”found my voice” – that articulated sense of what I believe in and the stand I take on topics at hand. This failure to find my voice – and consistently communicate it – is substantially at the root of my long-standing angst about not having a larger recognized standing in the community. What am I known for? Not much. When I am sought out? Well, people don’t have much to seek me out for, frankly. What are they suppose to seek me out for when I rarely have much to say?
That’s not to say that I’ve never expressed any opinions on anything. I wrote a book several years ago that sold well within a niche market. In that instance, I had something clear and unique to say and said it; that got attention. In another instance, I took a stand for a political candidate. I ended up on the campaign payroll.
In retrospect, I suspect I may have succeeded more when attempting to build another endeavor, perhaps, if had displayed a stronger voice – both in behavior and in project-related communications – if I had developed a more personally assertive voice on the topic at hand. I was certainly building a niche endeavor at the time, but wasn’t clearly articulate about its’ value and my own position on it.
Now, I can find plenty of excuses/explanations for not previously having – in general -found a voice. I’m an introvert, societal expectations around gender discourage an active voice, etc.
As I’ve continued to think about the topic of finding one’s voice, the more substantive its’ meaning has become. I came across a statement by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in which she says, “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” Madeleine Albright is taken seriously.
Around the same time that I found Albright’s statement, I had become enamored by a song I heard on the radio. A catchy tune by an emerging musician with a great voice who had very deservedly skyrocketed to worldwide attention. An aspect that attracted me to Hozier’s grammy-nominated song, “Take Me to Church,” is that he takes a clear, assertive, artful stance on a charged topic. Having – and communicating – his voice has helped earn him much deserved attention as a musician (an appropriate metaphor for a musician!).
As I continue considering this topic, I’m coming across a growing number of resources for increasing my voice.
I’m now actively working to develop and display my “voice” more publicly and in more settings. Regularly. I’ve certainly had my own world view all along – one that exists within my own introverted thought processes (one that sometimes comes out in some one-to-one interactions). It’s time, however, for me to develop this voice more actively and publicly.
What does my voice – my private, introverted worldview – sound like? It’s a view – a voice – in which:
- Equality of opportunity in life is strengthened for everyone.
- Justice is strengthened in all corners of society.
- All voices are heard and acknowledged.
- Individuals step up publicly and tackle awkward subjects that would be easier to ignore.
- People are challenged toward increased, and thereby improved, critical thinking in everything they do.
- People focus on achieving the most they can!
As I move forward, with a more active voice, I look forward to becoming a more recognized and respected figure in the arenas in which I participate. I’m not going to be silent.