Your voice is important.
Your voice is unique. It’s original.
Not just in the way it sounds. But because of what you have to say.
This is because, over the course of your life, you’ve built up years of valuable knowledge, insights, experiences, stories and wisdom. You’ll also have a unique set of things you care about and causes you get behind.
No one can say what you say, quite the way you do or have the potential to.
For example, someone may be in the same profession, but they’ll have a different set of outcomes. They may have had a similar experience, but they’ll have a different take on it. They may have a similar story, but it sounds different because their personality means they tell it in a different way.
So, even if there’s someone out there right now talking about something similar to you, don’t let it stop you. Because, there’s absolutely space for your unique voice. Never underestimate its importance.
Voices change the world.
Voices have the power to shape the world. They carry ideas, ignite change, and encourage us to challenge what we do.
Throughout history, notable figures have demonstrated the power of speaking up. From Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat to Malala Yousafzai advocating for girls’ education, their voices sparked movements that transformed societies.
These courageous women demonstrate that speaking up is not solely reserved for the powerful; we all have a voice and we all have the potential to make a positive impact.
Some voices lead to massive, global change. For others, the focus in on a particular community, business, industry, or school.
All the same, positive impact matters.
One story can transform a life.
In my first year of school, I was taught by a wonderful woman. She knew how to make every child feel special for their own unique reasons and helped them be resourceful.
In one of her many brilliant assemblies – which were renowned for great stories which built up to a life lesson – she ended with that day’s message: ‘there’s no such word as can’t’ she said. ‘It’s not in the dictionary’.
Being only four years old and thinking that teachers were always right, I took her at her word. When I got home, I announced to my parents this ground-breaking lesson. Try as they might, they couldn’t correct me. I was resolute. ‘Can’t’ was not a word!
My belief was so strong that it caused me to develop an optimistic and determined attitude early on. I thought everything was possible and that all I had to do was find a way because the only thing that wasn’t possible was to say: ‘I can’t’.
So, later, when I started learning to play the recorder at five and struggled, I refused to accept another teacher’s prediction that I would never be good at music and that I should ‘give up’.
I told him the same thing. ‘There’s no such word as can’t’ and kept going.
For years, I wrote stories and essays in school without using the word ‘can’t’ until a frustrated classmate finally pulled out a dictionary and showed me that ‘can’t’ was indeed in there. It seems obvious now. But that’s the power of a belief.
However, by this point, the believe that had been instilled in me during that vibrant assembly years before, had served its purpose. I’d got better at the music and started playing the piano, progressing through the grades and taking part in concerts. And, I loved it.
When I was in one of the last years of secondary school, I was playing an advanced Beethoven Sonata on the piano in a classroom when – out of the blue – in walked that teacher who had told me to give up music back when I was five.
He’d just taken up a new position at the school and I could see he didn’t recognise me. But as he stood at the edge of the room, I could see he was enjoying the piece. My parents had made many sacrifices to afford my lessons and so I hadn’t wasted a single one. Now the results were starting to show.
‘Very good,’ he said with a nod when I hit the final chord. ‘Nice melody’.
I thanked him and then reminded him of what he’d said to me years ago. ‘I’m glad you didn’t listen,’ he said with a smile. I really hoped he’d learn from this experience and he’d never discourage anyone ever again.
How many classes does a teacher deliver during their career? How many assemblies do they take part in? How many conversations do they have? Too many to count. But, it’s amazing how just one word, one talk or one story can change a life.
How will you use your voice?
You can use your unique voice to make a positive impact too.
What do you care about?
What would you like to happen in the next ten, twenty, thirty years?
Speaking up can take courage so having a vision for the future will give you both clarity and the incentive to do it. As will having in mind all the people who will be impacted positively by your voice and actions.
So, what will you use your voice to do?
Could you maybe…
- Inspire others to think differently?
- Use your unique perspectives to bring fresh insights into the world?
- Spark change in your community, business, industry or in education?
- Help people to do things better?
- Transform the lives of others by sharing your experiences, stories, lessons and wisdom?
- Or, simply serve others well in the process of achieving your goals?
Whatever you choose, the most important thing is to start.
Because when you say ‘maybe I’ll do that in the some other day’, that’s the same thing as saying ‘I can’t commit to that right now’.
And that’s the same as saying ‘can’t’.
And ‘can’t’ isn’t a word.
Really, I’m sticking with that. Because look at the difference Rosa Parks, Malala and others have made by refusing to let anyone tell them that they ‘can’t’.
Your aim may not be to start a civil rights revolution but your voice matters greatly.
Your voice makes the future.
Should you ever hold back? There are times when it’s useful to hold back when it’s important to listen, learn or understand other perspectives. But when you hold back because of fear, inertia or the desire to conform, silence stops being a good thing.
Even though it may feel more comfortable, when we stay silent when we know we want or need to use our voices, we deny ourselves the chance to make a positive impact.
Equally, speaking up doesn’t have to be loud and abrasive, rude or confrontational. You can voice your opinion respectfully and constructively to help foster healthy conversations. This way, you encourage people to consider what you have to say and respond rather than shut down or react.
Remember that just one thing you say today, tomorrow or some day in the near future, has the potential to change someone’s life.
If you get that opportunity, say ‘yes’!
The time has come to embrace your voice and use it in the way you were born for. Because, your voice makes the future.
- Your voice is original in the way it sounds and because of what you have to say. This is because of your unique blend of knowledge, insights, experiences, stories, passions and wisdom. No one can say what you say, quite the way you can.
- Every conversation or interaction you have has the potential to have an impact on someone else. Have a vision for what you would like the future to look like and who will be impacted so you can consider how you can use your voice to contribute to this.
- When we stay silent when we know we want or need to use our voices, we deny ourselves the chance to make a positive impact. So, consider the best way to foster healthy, respectful conversations around the subjects that matter to you.