Does this sound familiar?
You’re at a networking event or a major conference and you value the presenter who just spoke, so much so that you wrote down a series of questions you’d like to ask her. But now that she’s stepping down from the stage, you’re tongue-tied. A dozen other people are rushing out of their seats to stand in line to speak to her. You just know she’s never going to be there when you get to the head of the line. And hey, it probably doesn’t matter because the worry knot in your stomach is getting tighter and tighter. You’ll never even have a voice, by the time you get to the front of the line.
Off you go, out the door, head down, notes clutched to your chest, a slave to that worry knot, whispering to yourself, “I could never be like her, anyway.”
This isn’t unique to you. It happens every day, with hundreds of talented women around the world.
Not that long ago, academy award winning actress Jennifer Lawrence wrote an open letter to Hollywood regarding the inequality in the male-female pay scale. In the letter she said, “I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early. I didn’t want to keep fighting over millions of dollars that, frankly, due to two franchises, I don’t need. (I told you it wasn’t relatable, don’t hate me). … I’m over trying to find the ‘adorable’ way to state my opinion.”
This is what too many women do, at each event or meeting they attend – they give in to the worry-knot in their gut as it feeds on their insecurities and makes them ill. They buy into society’s demand that women be “likeable”…and quiet. The knot allows them to only share their whisper voice, and each time they do, their message evaporates into nothingness.
Sadly, because of this whisper voice and its pure silence, some of these remarkable women give up. When that happens, the world loses talent that might have moved mountains. What’s worse, these women lost out on opportunities and connections that might truly have taught them to sing.
How do I know this? I know this because I used to be one of these women. I used to stumble over my words. I used to swallow hard, think hard, and then fail to come up with a complete sentence. I used to stand in line, smiling, hoping to get to the front of the line to get my questions answered, only to be turned away just three people late. Like other women with worry knots overpowering them, I would sigh and turn away; secretly glad I didn’t get to the front of the line.
After a few incidents like that, I knew I had to do something. I knew I had to untie that knot in my stomach. I knew I had to burst out, get beyond my whisper voice. At that time, a good friend said to me, “Get BOLD, Yvonne. ” She smiled as she said it. The shocked look on my face must have amused her, because she laughed. “Seriously,” she said, “why be humble? You’re smart. You’re talented. You’re determined. It’s not, ‘In my humble opinion’ anymore; it’s In my BOLD Opinion: IMBO.”
I’m telling YOU, now, to do the same. GET BOLD. Unravel the worry knot in your gut and burst beyond your whisper voice. It’s time for YOU to be heard.
- SPEAK UP!
Yes, that’s easier said than done. But it’s the first step to commanding the voice you want to have. Begin by practicing in front of the mirror. Don’t concentrate on your makeup or your crooked smile. Leave all criticisms of YOU out of the picture. Just speak. Recite a favorite poem. Take at least 10 minutes every day to face yourself in the mirror – listen to yourself – embrace your voice. Be bold.
- BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.
“I think, therefore I am… strong and powerful!” Build a solid mantra that can get you through the toughest of times. My mantra is “everything comes easy to me.” Understand that “easy” is a relative term. It’s up to you to make life easy. Life, or Fate, or Faith, whatever you care to call it, does not exist for you, alone. The world is a big place; full of other strong voices. When you believe that you can make it so, it will become so. Recite this Napoleon Hill powerful quote daily: “Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”
- REACH OUT.
Reach out to others. Give and you shall receive. This is most important when you feel as if you’re stumbling, or you’re facing a wall that reaches far into the sky. When you reach out to others, to give of yourself, you often discover footholds and handholds on that wall to the sky. You discover everything is surmountable. Give others your voice, your story, your time…and watch the footholds and handholds appear.
- WALK TALL.
John Wayne had a distinctive walk. He was all man, just ask my mother! She adored him the way folks today adore Brad Pitt. Wayne’s walk was part of his legacy – he didn’t just stroll into a saloon in his popular cowboy movies, he sauntered with an attitude that said, “I’m here. I’m here and that’s all that matters.” Make your walk purposeful. Be confident in how you move. It might take practice, but you can do it. (If you need to ditch the high heels, so be it. There are plenty of attractive, comfortable shoes you can wear that won’t pinch your toes! ) Remember to throw your shoulders back and smile. Always…smile.
- GO BACK TO SCHOOL.
The best way to defeat the gremlin in your gut as it ties knot after knot of self-doubt, until nothing but your whisper voice can emerge, is to learn more about the issues you are most afraid of. Afraid of public speaking? Go to Toast Masters. Afraid of giving a presentation to a client? Take a business course at your local community college. Afraid you’ll make a fool of yourself walking up the steps of the stage? Take a class in poise and self-assuredness. Learn. Learn. Learn. “Always be in learning mode,” Lee Thayer used to tell me. A leader who stops learning, stops leading.
- WRITE IT DOWN!
Writing it down makes it so. We are held accountable when we write something down. The act of putting pen to paper, and yes, I mean PEN to PAPER, not fingers to keyboard, tells our brain we are making a commitment. If you are serious about the commitment, share it with a colleague or friend and make yourself accountable. “I WILL learn to amplify my voice,” said out loud is the start. Writing it down is the commitment. Sharing it with a friend is the accountability.
- MINGLE WITH THE EXPERTS.
Identify and list the experts in your industry. Make time to attend conferences or events where they are speaking. Attend their session not just for the inspiration and information, attend it with the intent to study how they do what they do. Watch how they walk; note the sound and modulation of their voice; notice their movements, the way they share their knowledge. Be one with them. It’s not enough to *want* to be like them. You must become them, as if your voice was the one on stage, captivating every person in the audience. Most speakers give contact information to the audience. Use it. Email the speaker and ask one pertinent question. Learn from the experts.
- IDENTIFY SOMETHING BIGGER THAN YOURSELF.
Every entrepreneur I have ever met has a story that shines brighter when they illuminate and understand the purpose of their lives. Your purpose is not just to be. Your purpose is to make the world a better place. Applying yourself to your purpose builds confidence without pause. You become confident because your purpose is more than money or prestige. Kathleen Gage will tell you, “It’s not just about what you do but the reason behind why you do it.” I do what I do because I have a passion for animals, our elderly, and children of all ages. My purpose is to make life better for them in any way I can. I think of that purpose every single day. It keeps me moving forward.
- SHOW, DON’T TELL.
This advice is commonly given to novelists or short story writers; show the reader what is happening, don’t just tell them. It’s imperative for women entrepreneurs to show the world they mean business. I welcome the story you will tell, but if it has no substance, if it exists outside of your actions, it becomes a fiction that no one believes. Show me your purpose, use the right words, not, “I’m thinking of…” but, “I am…” Not, “I hope to…” but, “I plan to…” “I am the founder of this business. I plan to change the world!”
There is no “try”, as YODA says, “there is only do.” The more you “DO”, the stronger you become. The stronger you become, the more your confidence soars! In “once upon a time” land, when you dreamed of this business, you had meaning and color and purpose. Your desire and passion told you to pursue your dream.
I want you to reconnect with that and show the world who you are – show me the power inside – burst beyond your whisper voice!
- ACCEPT YOUR PHENOMENAL SELF.
As women entrepreneurs and leaders of a better tomorrow, we bring our unique, talented, musical voices to the stage each day. I say it’s time to walk tall with purpose and determination. Can you embrace your phenomenal self, with me? Say it out loud, every day: I am a #womanofdistinction – phenomenal in my all. Each of you are #womenofsignificance… phenomenal in all you do, to me. Once you learn to accept your true phenomenal self, you will blossom into the magical being you were meant to be.
I recommend reading Mya Angelou. Her amazing poem titled Phenomenal Woman should be printed and framed in your office. Teaser – she begins the poem thusly:
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
On a closing note, we’re here to guide you on the journey to bursting beyond your whisper voice. Stop being mediocre today and stay in touch.
We’re your Book Coaching and Publishing Advisers – where story is everything.