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What is a successful voice?
- singing in front of thousands of audience members in an amphitheater,
- talking on camera to all those watching their TV show or YouTube channel,
- writing a song that will be heard publicly,
- speaking in front of a boardroom, congregation or classroom,
- singing or talking to a friend or a child,
- posting on social media.
An influencer bears responsibility for the responses to their messages.In other words, what your voice sets in motion is something you started. For this post, I'm going to get quite real with a deep concern I have for vocal responsibility (or the lack thereof). I suggest we think twice (or maybe 100 times)
... before we speak, sing, or write
... before believing or buying into what others speak, sing, or write
The voice's WHYThe voice can be very, very powerful. It can heal, destroy, inspire, shut down, mislead, correct, change one mind, or redirect the trajectory of the whole world in tremendous ways, for better or worse. It's a slippery slope to unintended harm when we don't realize what is really driving us and our messages. If we want to be on the side of the angels, our voice's core 'why' needs to be consciously and intentionally about far more than money, fame, or power.
Geez, this sounds so enlightened, ethical, and logical, right? So why is the world full of voices with messages of hate, meanness, deception, gender bashing, cluelessness, and other-directed harm? I mean, have you heard certain songs that encourage murder? Rape? Suicide? Watched any polarizing political speeches spouting lies? Seen any senseless rioting and violence sabotage peaceful protests? Read any hateful social media comments and responses? Ever been the victim of an internet troll? Perhaps it would help to consider what's driving these voices of darkness and damage.
Reasons for vocal malpractice:
Pros and cons of ways to try to be vocally responsible:
- Research and sharing
- Giving up
Getting back to WHYI believe the answer abides in the 'why' that motivates us to send our messages. Do I need to rant my truth to satisfy my ego and need for control, no matter what the result? Or do I want to influence thought and actions to make the world a better place? If your 'why' makes you want to be an influencer for the good, engaged in ethical messaging, I invite you to consider the following 4 things you'll need to be successful:
1. TRUTH - Find out what is true. Don't just research the like-minded material you want to be true. Check out what the 'other side' is saying, and why they are saying it. Don't listen to morons or crooks, but do listen to people who see things differently.
2. COURAGE - Choose to be courageous. I believe we all know when we should speak truth, even and especially when it can cost us. Be willing to lose. You'll be in good company... Jesus, Gandhi, Martin Luther King. You probably won't be risking nearly that much.
3. UNDERSTANDING - Understand those to whom you are communicating. How can you craft your words or lyrics so your audience can best hear it and possibly be swayed by it? How can you be an example and encourage others to be both brave and wise?
4. LISTENING - After you share your view, really listen to the responses and replies. In Native American culture, there is a tradition called the Talking Circle. A 'talking stick' is passed to whoever wishes to talk; everyone else looks down and listens in silence. This creates the opportunity to discuss, challenge a viewpoint, learn new information and come to a much wiser consensus than voices yelling over each other to prove their point or blindly accepting the views of someone that demands total control and obedience. I'd love to see this concept take hold in more face-to-face meetings between people. It can be chats over webcam, sure, but unfortunately social media is too often where we speak without listening, and where we listen without verifying what is true.
Thoughts for influencers with large platformsWhen you have a lot of listeners, you have a lot of responsibility. Take it seriously. Whether you're an artist, a songwriter, public speaker, podcaster, minister, teacher, or business person, look closer at what you're sending out. Does it really match your value system? What does it illuminate or encourage? When you address dark issues or subjects, do you try to bring them into the light or some resolution? Again, ask yourself what you want your influence to do. What kind of response do you want to get?
There are voices out there that are truly making a difference on a grand scale. One example I'm enthralled with today is Dolly Parton. She could just sing her country standards before her worshipping fans and enjoy her legendary career success. But instead, she courageously and empathetically decided to use her influence to champion causes, create charitable foundations and donate millions to worthy charities, including many that benefit the people of her beloved Appalachia. Dolly Parton's singing, speaking and songwriting voice has made a huge difference in so many lives for years. If you want to be inspired, check out Billboard magazine's timeline of Dolly's good deeds.