Do you watch Disney movies? Have you seen “The Little Mermaid”? Do you remember the moment when she realized she had no voice and how precious it was? She spent the rest of the movie trying to communicate without a voice, learning how to communicate in different ways, all the while appreciating the gift she had lost.
I woke up this morning without my voice and with a terrible sore throat that has worsened over the past several days. On these days, I am like Ariel, trying to find different ways to communicate, not always successfully and often with much effort. It causes me to be grateful for my voice, even the gravelly one that fades in and out. I am grateful for the gift of speaking my mind in a free country and within my family. Not everyone feels free to speak up and use their voice.
Maybe you are one of those people who has given up your voice, your gift to speak up for what is right and for what you need. Maybe you live in fear of retribution if you speak up. Maybe you settle for a life that is less than what you desire because you can’t find your voice to change it. Maybe you work in a situation that has taught you to “clam up” or you will have to pay the price of getting written up or losing your job, which means losing a paycheck. Maybe you are in a relationship where somebody else does all the talking and you aren’t allowed to have a voice or to express yourself.
What would it take for you to find your voice? Malala Yousafzai is an 18 year old Pakistani girl and at the age of 17, she became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize winner. She is an activist for female education and human rights in Pakistan where the Taliban had banned girls from attending school. At the age of 11-12, she wrote a blog for the BBC about the Taliban occupation and her views on educating girls. In 2012, in an effort to stifle her voice, she was shot in the head as she boarded her school bus.
This attempt to “shut her up” had the exact opposite effect than what the Taliban had hoped. She became a voice for all children worldwide who are being deprived of an education. If a little girl can be this courageous, can you find some courage to speak up?
With the holidays coming, many people experience laryngitis around their families. They are afraid to be themselves and to speak up because they may “rock the boat” if they act like the adults they have become instead of the children they once were. Is it any wonder that so many people only tolerate the holidays vs. enjoying them?
Speaking up and finding your voice doesn’t mean you have to start a family feud, but rather to be open enough to be yourself and to allow others to see you as an adult instead of filling a childhood role. It’s not always easy to go home without feeling like a child, but if you plan ahead for possible attempts to “steal your voice,” you can protect and share your beautiful gift. Be thankful you have a voice and can use it in a free country.
This article was posted in the Coach's Corner of the ASTD Newsletter for October 2015. You can reach Kolleen through this website, Linked In, Facebook or by calling her at (402) 499-5547. She offers workshops, small groups and individual life coaching on a variety of topics to help you create the life you dream of but haven't been able to achieve.