I’ve missed the sound of my own voice.
Not the voice that is uncertain. Unclear. Unhappy. Unsure. UnEVERYTHING.
The voice that sounds a bit ferocious when she is trying to herd the kittens…or in my case the feral barn cats. The voice that is not in the least bit afraid of what will happen when she says the words:
“I don’t agree with you.”
“Are you sure we are thinking this through clearly?”
“Wow, that feels like we are over-complicating things.”
It’s also the voice that says:
“Help me understand.”
“Please bear with my ignorance and explain it to me again.”
“I really want to make this work and need help seeing the problem from your point of view.”
That voice doesn’t need to be told to LEAN IN. And that voice doesn’t back down when the male faces in the room are saying LEAN OUT. It’s the voice that can say honestly with truth but without bitterness to a male colleague…
“I think he isn’t listening because I’m a woman, why don’t YOU try.”
Or to say with kindness and no reserve
“I need more from you.”
“I need you to do this piece.”
It enables me to say…
“I’m not good at this and will need help or more time to figure it out.”
It’s a voice that asks for what it needs…hell…what it wants. And I trust that voice to know how to make things work…deal with the details…see the vision…and lead the team. No doubt. No fear. No arrogance. Just certain strength.
With this voice I say things like…
“Good Lord, I need whiskey!!”
…at 9:20 AM in the middle of a really difficult design session with the simple goal of making my team laugh. And it is the voice who can find just the right tone to go along with the pat on the back being offered to the person next to me at the table who is willingly and bravely making commitments for the good of the team. It is the voice that helps me to push, prod, tease, and encourage my team.
That voice has been missing.
Today it showed up and reminded me that I don’t have to know all the details of what’s going to happen next…what job I’ll have in 2 weeks, 6 months, next year…or who I’ll be reporting to next week. It also reminded me that no company, culture, team, or project…no matter how well intentioned gets to crush my spirit, steal my confidence, or silence my voice. And if I allow that…it’s my own damn fault.
My voice is back.