Try this: pick up your phone and record a voice memo. Go on, do it right now – it won’t take a moment. Now play it back; what’s the first thing you think? Shit, do I really sound like that?
Now imagine this with everything you do: a conversation with a friend about something you’re passionate about, a discussion at work regarding who’s to blame, a job interview, or something you’re writing. Check yourself, listen back, make sure you’re using your real voice.
I’m not talking about how you sound, but how you present. Are you being authentic, or are you parroting somebody else? There have been times in my career when I’ve tried to be something I’m not. There were times when I was a younger man that I tried to impress to make friends. It may work for a while, but frankly it’s hard work for little reward.
The real rewards come when you speak with your authentic voice. Have a think about the people you admire and look up to. People that get things done and take people along with them almost always feel what they’re saying or doing. Even some of the less savoury characters in history (I’m thinking of a few murderous dictators here) felt and projected what they strongly believed.
For the Generalist setting out on the road to building their life outside the cubicle, believing and projecting what they believe is something that will sustain them in to the future. It’s the thing that will help you move past the crowd and reach your audience, or as Kevin Kelly calls them, your true fans.
Here’s three tips to making sure that you’re using your authentic voice.
- Think about how you talk with your close friends, especially when you’re trying to get something important across.
- Make sure what you’re saying is something you can back up. Don’t write checks your arse can’t cash.
- Believe what you’re saying or don’t say it!
I know I’m not the best writer on the planet – hell, I’m not even the best writer in my house – but I’m going to try my very best to be authentic.