Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice
August 03, 2015
Todd Henry shows us how stand apart from the noise by finding an authenticity within you (or your organization) that resonates with the wider world.
Whereas we could once fit into an organization as a cog in a machine, or create products that would fit nicely in a safe, existing market, those jobs and cogs and safely existing anythings are pretty much played out, taken over by said automation. Now, what we say and build has to be more authentic, more a reflection of ourselves, our values, and what we care about. And the only thing we have to fall back on there is ourselves, those qualities an algorithm cannot copy or access, that which makes us fundamentally human, who we are. Something like our voice.
I'm not speaking, of course, of that with which you do your everyday speaking. That voice, as Todd Henry points out at the beginning of his new book Louder Than Words, sounds very different in your head than it does when you hear it played back to you. It can be quite disconcerting really. And Henry believes it's often the same with your metaphorical voice—your personal reaction to the universal "why" of existence, which compels you to take your place in the world and "defines the space you are wired to occupy, and the unique value you are capable of contributing." But, instead of simply making you a little uneasy, when how you speak on this deeper level is out of sync with how others (in business, your customers) hear you, that dissonance can be destructive to your health and existence. So, he has set out to help readers correct that by helping them hone their authentic voice.
I believe the most important work you will ever do is the work necessary to develop an authentic voice. ... [Y]our voice is both your single greatest possession and the most critical asset you share with the world. It is both the animating force of your best work and also the reason it gets noticed. And in the end, it is the source of both meaning and purpose in your work, and also the most likely generator of any success you experience.
This is true of both you as an individual and your organization. And as touchy/feely andself-involved as this all may sound, it is really about getting outside of yourself and achieving an impact in the world around you:
The goal of developing an authentic voice isn't self-gratification, it's cultivating a greater ability to mobilize others toward a goal or objective, and in so doing achieve the impact you desire.
Even a solitary artist must think of the resonance and impact of their work, and so much of their groundwork—like all work—is not only looking inside themselves for discovery, but out into the world. In order for your voice to resound (literally re-sound), it must connect with something "in common" in your audience or customer so that they want to carry on your message. Which means that the finding your voice, and defining your space, is not a solitary, selfish act. Yes, you want to grow an audience for your ideas and a market for your products, but its about how they exist in the world (not in your head) that determines if and how that will happen. As Henry says:
"Do what you love and everything will work out" sounds exciting, but often fails to to help you achieve lasting results and impact. As you'll see in the coming pages, developing your voice in not just what you care about, it's also about how your passions intersect with what others care about.
It is for this reason that it is important to "engage in self-discovery through action." You need to see what others respond to, and how they respond to it. Then you can go about refining your vision, and mastering your skills, which taken altogether make up the three components of what Henry calls "The Voice Engine"—identity, vision, and mastery. There are three questions that align with these: "Who are you?" "Where are you going?" and "How will you get there?" And it's important to answer all of these questions consistently, because when one gets out of whack, it all begins to crumble. Similar to those found in Henry's previous books, The Accidental Creative and Die Empty (both brilliant, by the way), he has come up with a series of simple equations to show you how:
IDENTITY + VISION - MASTERY = NOT CREDIBLE
IDENTITY + MASTERY - VISION = NOT CLEAR
MASTERY + VISION - IDENTITY = NOT CALLED
IDENTITY + VISION + MASTERY = COMPELLING
It is this kind of satisfyingly simple structure to the creative process that Todd Henry always brings to the table. Louder Than Words is also broken down into three sections to make it more easily navigable. The first section discusses the struggles inherent in the process, and how to overcome them. The second goes deeper into The Voice Engine, including why building your platform before developing your voice will eventually cause that engine to stall. The third section gets into the everyday implementation of it all as an individual, team, or leader.
We'll have more to say on this book next week, including a deeper dive on the two latter sections. So, if you'd like to follow along, why not try to win yourself a copy to have on hand as we do?
We have 20 available.