Finding your Voice

On Being Authentic

We often hear that leaders should be authentic.  One key element of authenticity is voice.  When we know ourselves, our strengths and our values, we become stronger.  When we learn to translate that self into our writing and speaking, our voices become stronger.  This is true in our professional and personal lives.  It is true of speaking and writing.

When I work with graduate students, I encourage them to find their voices. How do you react to the following three “voices?”

  • To be an ethnographer is to revel in paradox…One is studying the ‘other,’ yet ultimately is studying oneself.
  • I chose, for this research, to analyze Fielding’s publicly available texts and archival documents.
  • Through the study, the researcher hoped to identify factors common to women who complete doctoral degrees.

But What is the Right Voice?

There is no right or wrong in the voices they chose nor in your reactions to them. Cathy Collins, Linda Terry and Karen Stailey wrote their dissertations at the same university but with different voices because they were different people in different stages of evolution. Those choices have impacts.

We are chameleon-like when we write. I must sound like a creative entrepreneur or responsible public servant or a serious graduate student. I push students to be clear about who they are and to make themselves visible.

Finding Your Voice

I find that nature helps to ground me and rediscover myself.

Ironically, I had to be taught the same lesson recently. I submitted a draft of my book Riding Horseback in Purple to award-winning editor, Barbara Pulling. She told me I needed to put more of myself into the book. That seemed pretentious and actually a bit frightening, but I dove in. In a book competition, the judge gave an “Outstanding” rating for voice and writing style, thanks largely to Barbara’s comment. Readers have given me the same feedback: they value hearing my story as much as my content.

Keep working to find your voice.


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