“Finding your voice” is simply learning to express yourself with confidence. It is deliberately putting thoughts into words even in challenging and controversial conversations. I believe using your voice is anchored in three important attributes. Your identity, the willingness to be vulnerable, and the willingness to be the maverick in the room.
Knowing your identity. Being certain of your identity is essential not only to using your voice but using it for impact and purpose. Who are you? What do you value? What’s important to you? Why do you do what you do?
Using your voice effectively is not about expressing your opinion simply because you can. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like your co-workers’ shoes! Au contraire. Using your voice is anchored in purpose. Speak up because it matters. Speak up because what you say can be transformative for others. Speak up because it can change the outcome of a situation.
The willingness to be vulnerable. Speaking up and speaking out can put you in a position of vulnerability. Sometimes the consequence of using your voice means dealing with uncomfortable emotions like fear, shame, or grief. It can also mean exposing some personal aspect of your life like sharing a mistake you made.
Vulnerability challenges the status quo, pushes back against conventional social expectations, and brings authenticity to the table. Speaking up is a dynamic act of self-empowerment. It can create meaningful conversations and become a source of inspiration and healing for others.
Being the maverick in the room. Mavericks don’t usually bend to peer pressure and don’t mind taking a countercultural position. While it’s not easy being an outlier, mavericks are said to be visionaries, risk takers, and are willing to persevere when challenged. Learning to use your voice in powerful ways will cultivate the maverick in you.
So, how do you begin to “find your voice”? Start by learning what shapes your identity. What do you value? Discover what you’re passionate about? Dig deep and identify your greatest fear about speaking up? Are you concerned that others know more than you? What are the things you are afraid of saying? Believe it or not – practice speaking out loud what you are thinking in your heart and head.
Answering these questions will allow you to shape and sharpen your identity, create a level of comfort with being vulnerable, and give you the courage to be the maverick when necessary. Remember, using your voice is not just expressing your opinions because you can, but it is a skill used to impact, inspire, and encourage those in your sphere of influence.