Your voice

Seth recently shared a great response to all the people who say they’re going to be the next Seth, rightly exhorting folks to get busy being their best selves instead.

But how do you find your own voice?

We all stand on the shoulders of giants – people whose ideas we are building on, whose lessons we are working to learn, whose path has inspired us.

For a while, I think, we have no choice but to internalize, and at times mimic, the voice of those we admire, trying on constructs or phrases or ideas for size. If done honestly, without claims of being the next anything, it can be constructive, a process through which we play, we practice, we experiment…and in so doing we discover the ground we would like to stake out for ourselves. It’s the intersection of where we know the most, care the most, and have something to say that adds to the conversation.

It can be an awkward process. We see people who are great at what they do – especially great communicators – and can’t help but fault ourselves for not being as great as they are (never mind they’ve usually been at this a lot longer – you’re seeing the fully formed version of them, and you’re just starting out). Why don’t we do it the way they do?

It’s because their voice is theirs. You’re not ever going to do it the way they do because you’re not them. This is why you will never BE the next them; you can only be the best you.

Learn from them, walk in their shoes and down their path for some time. And in so doing discover your own gait and your own way forward. Someday, all that will be left of their voice in yours will be lines that start, “A mentor of mine used to say….” These are the crisp encapsulations of your own guideposts, how you navigate and explain your own orientation in the world.

Take the time to discover your own voice. And be patient with yourself. It takes a while.

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4 thoughts on “Your voice

  1. I agree with your point that we shouldn’t try to become other people. I do think, though, that it is useful to study people we admire to identify the things we like about what they do. While communications is an art, there are techniques that can be used to strengthen a message. Skilled communicators like Seth have great creativity AND great technique. I think I can learn a lot from other people’s technique even without aspiring to become like them.

  2. Exactly. I absolutely agree, and I’d define “technique” pretty broadly in terms of what there is to learn.

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