A while back my daughter had an assignment to write an essay called, “This I Believe.” It was adapted from journalist Edward R. Murrow’s 1951 radio network program which highlighted famous and everyday people’s personal philosophies and motivations. These individuals would share their core values and beliefs through short essays drawn from anything in daily living to life-changing experiences. (For example: I believe… in the power of speech, life is a spiritual struggle, I should make a fool of myself, discipline brings freedom, etc…). Quite vulnerable and edgy for that era!
It was a very cool assignment, so I decided to try it on myself, and then with some clients. I first went to the web site http://thisibelieve.org/essays/featured/ and listened to a few essays. Here is an excerpt of what immediately came flowing out of me:
Speaking MY Voice of “Truth”
As a young child, I grew up with a mom who was more of a voice for me than I was for myself, primarily when interacting with adults. I believe it created in me a fear of approaching elders, which lasted well into my adult life. I was intimidated by people who were older, smarter, or more accomplished than me.
There wasn’t an event that changed this for me, but perhaps an evolution. A realization that my voice matters, and much to my own disbelief, I have some amazing things to say. It’s no secret I wasn’t much of a student – until I learned teachers aren’t unapproachable. And I wasn’t a motivated worker until I discovered good bosses are there to be servants, not dictators. So, in essence, I didn’t value my voice until I really found it. Not the voice on a stage, in a meeting, or at a party, but my inner voice.
To clarify, my inner voice is MY truth, not necessarily THE truth. THE truths are assertions (non-disputable facts and specific, observable behaviors). MY truths are assessments (the stories I make up, the feelings I have, the reactions I experience). So, my Voice of Truth is the connection between my inner voice – noticing my reactions/assertions/assessments, processing it, and my outer voice – having the courage to speak it out loud.
When I first started coaching executives, who were older, smarter, more accomplished- the triple threat in my young child story (my assessment) – my coach gave me the best whack on the head when he asked, “What makes you think their experience is any more valuable than yours? You are just people talking to people.” And so I journeyed on with my baggage full of limiting stories and self-doubt, but I had a backpack full of curiosity, candor, grit, and guts.
Fast-forward past years of living life with intention, goals, exploration, masterful colleagues, and experimenting, I have discovered that I thrive on fearless communication – Not flawless, but fearless. I love inner excavations and courageous conversations. I love navigating people to speak their Voice of Truth with me and others. When I am coaching my clients to communicate with curiosity, candor, emotion, grit, and guts, I am in my zone of genius.
I have also learned that not speaking my voice of truth creates more angst, pain, energy drain, stress, and tension, than if I fly clumsily into speaking my voice of truth. For the sake of what? For the sake of taking care of myself and being authentic to what I believe everyone should do, and that is speak their voice of truth.
If you want to give this a try, ping me for my instructions to my clients. If you go it alone, I would still love to hear how it turns out. Let me know!