Our voices go with us everywhere. They are ever present (in our minds, in our homes, in our workplaces). Even if you don’t blog, speak publicly or even like contributing in group settings, your voice is still a tangible part of your potential. Our voices are an instrument of our potential, the outward manifestation of it, but voice alone is not wholly potential, for potential is far more complex and nuanced then that (thankfully). The use of the word voice is also a bit misleading because when I refer to “voice” I am referencing a group of qualities, of which only a subset is audible sound. So what is meant by “voice”?
It is the way we allow ourselves to be seen, first by ourselves and then by others (intentionally and unintentionally). Whether that is through writing, what we say (what we don’t say), how we say/don’t say things, body language etc. our voice is made up of our presence, our values, our beliefs and to what degree we share these things with others. Some might call it presence; others might call it character…it’s a mix of all those things. Using our voice to (literally) broadcast our potential requires an act of vulnerability, an act of courage. To do so in a meaningful way requires awareness of what supports us when we reach for something just beyond our grasp.
In his TEDTalk “The Happy Secret To Better Work” Shawn Achor points to the fact that outwardly (the things people can see and touch) we may have everything we need to make us happy. Nice homes, cars, clothes, etc. However, it is what is unseen, what is “under the surface” that provides us with long-term happiness via support and this is because of the way our brains process happiness and success. Our level of optimism and social support are what fuel our ability to see things as challenges rather than threats and to then be able to better manage the stress that comes along with them. In fact these pieces, optimism and social support, make up 75% of job success. He supports this figure by saying that we have been going about things a bit backward, we chase success to make us happy when in fact if we concentrate on our happiness success will find us.
Given that optimism and social support are such huge factors in happiness we can build more awareness about how they impact us, how they support our voice and feed our potential. To make this more accessible, think back over your week so far. How many times did you have a negative thought pointed towards yourself? Towards another (be honest now, no one will hear the answer but you)? Now look at it again and note the positive thoughts you pointed towards yourself and others. Even though these thoughts may never have left your head, this is part of your voice and it impacts the quality of your day. How often we look for (and find) the things that are supportive in our day are key building blocks in realizing happiness and allowing us access to our potential. Another aspect to consider is to note how you handled the last compliment you received. Did you guffaw and “aw shucks” it, meanwhile telling yourself that the person was “just being nice” or did you own it and thank the person who complimented you, letting them know you appreciated it and felt their words sincerely? Did you let your social support network support you? If not, why not, and what was the impact?
Exploring what impact our voices have on our potential is just a taste. Bringing more awareness to the topic of potential is something I am invested in, as it is a deep topic that includes many important things, like our voice, character, leadership, emotional intelligence and many other qualities. It is a much wider lens that I look forward to exploring, sharing and giving a “voice” to, allowing us all to learn about (or just to remind us of) the potential that is in each of us because when we allow ourselves to be well supported (by ourselves and by others) there is no limit to our potential. Join me as I explore new ways to find and use potential, providing resources to my social network and anyone else who may benefit.
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I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Face Book or Linked In.