Voices: who’s speaking into your business?

I lost my voice last week (no it’s not behind the sofa – I checked). As someone who is generally very vocally expressive and also rehearsing for a singing part in a pantomime that’s showing next week(!), I must admit I have found it extremely frustrating to only be able to whisper and mime.

I am pleased to say the whisper has grown into a croak and is on its way back to full voice, and I even managed to croak my way through a teleseminar this morning which was described as “inspiring”, “very useful” and “wonderful stuff for the new year”!

Not being able to speak has made me a better listener, to the delight of my husband, and much more aware as well, of the people who speak into my life and my business.

I notice that there are people who I find naturally inspiring. People who encourage rather than criticise, even when they’re challenging. People who want to catalyse your individual potential rather than “just copy me”. People who believe in possibilities. And people who are comfortable with being human rather than striving for perfection.

For me, that’s a whole mixture of friends, colleagues, coaches, mentors, preachers and authors, including:

When I’ve spent time listening to these people – whether in the context of a prepared speech, a direct conversation, blog or book, or watching their Twitter stream – I find myself full of ideas, clarity and most importantly self-belief.

Then there are some voices which I find grating, discouraging and dispiriting. People who start every sentence with “The problem with…” , “Yes but…” , “Don’t…” or “You can’t…” for example. Or well-meaning folk who just want to protect you from taking any risks at all, just in case it all goes wrong. And sometimes it’s just a clash in values and how we see the world. When I spend too much time listening to these voices, I become despondent, doubtful and lethargic. Come to think of it, I think that’s probably the reason I stopped watching Eastenders!

We can’t always avoid negative comments or good-intentioned discouragements, especially as sometimes they can come from loved ones. We can choose which voices we pay attention to, and how much we allow them to shape our own voice and thoughts.

Which voices are speaking into your life and your business at the moment? Who coaches, mentors, supports and challenges you – formally or informally? What books are you reading? Whose newsletters do you subscribe to? What do you spend time watching and listening to? And do they build you up or tear you down?

I’d love to know – share some with us in the comment box below!

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