Listening to Your Inner Voice
It’s an amazing thing, your voice. You open your mouth, say a few words, and you hear your vocal chords do their work. Those lucky enough to be present get to hear what you utter. Sometimes you share wisdom, sometimes a bad joke (maybe a good one). Your voice you share with the world is a gift. But your inner voice is where the magic happens, you need to be quiet to hear it.
It’s during the silence when you can best hear your inner-voice. Silence is an acronym for “listen”. It’s right there in front of you, albeit the letters are mixed up. The truth is you need to learn to listen to yourself, but you often ignore the voice. You let fear or complacency rule instead and they are the wrong voices. If you take a few minutes to reflect on your life, you can discover your true self from what your inner voice tells you. I know this because I’ve experienced it myself.
When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a comedian, but I didn’t have the understanding of how to launch that career. I would crank call people (it was before call display) and record the calls on cassette tapes. I had the coolest, suction-cup phone tap from RadioShack, but I digress. I’d make tapes of funny songs or sketches with my friends. I wish I had listened to my inner voice that was pushing me towards comedy. It was many years later when I studied and began to perform improv comedy (and lead improv workshops for businesses). It has taken me until my forties to realize how I can take what I have learned from studying and performing improv comedy, and apply these skills to the work I most want to do.
Judd Apatow was so obsessed with comedy as a kid, he reached out to comedians to interview them for his school radio station. The station didn’t broadcast beyond the walls of the school, but the comedians didn’t know any better. They heard the call letters and assumed it was “real” radio station. When Apatow showed up for the interview with his cassette recorder in hand, he surprised each person. Nobody expected a fifteen-year-old kid would show up. Apatow not only listened to his inner voice, he listened and learned from the voices of the amazing talent he got to speak with. He interviewed legends like Albert Brooks, Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld, and the list goes on and on. Do a search for Apatow on IMDB.com and be prepared to be blown away by his achievements. Apatow is a success today because he listened to his inner voice.
“I feel like, as creative people, we're all on this journey to get comfortable with who we are, to understand who we are, to find a way for our art to express that."
My mum was an actor in London, before visiting Canada during the summer of 1967. She met my dad, they were married, she became a Canadian citizen, had my brother and me, and became a stay-at-home-mom and personal assistant. It took her until after she retired to listen to her inner voice. She auditioned and was cast in an acting company for seniors. At eighty-one years old she continues to perform today. I believe she has never been happier because she tapped back into what she most loved in her youth.
On the morning of each of my children’s birthdays, I briefly interview them with one simple question as they awaken. I record their answers, so they can listen back to their own voices as they get older. The question: What do you want to be when you grow up? I firmly believe there are direct correlations between what you want to be when you grow up and what you become. Those who tap (back) into their earliest interests become happiest at their work. No wonder we often hear about people successful people doing what they love for a living.
What about you? What has your inner voice been saying all these years? Have you ignored it or welcomed it?
Try this for yourself.
Get offline. Airplane mode. Turn off Wi-Fi. Yank the ethernet cord out.
Grab a notepad and pen, with a coffee (or something stronger).
Jot down the career(s) you wanted when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grew up?
Write down your favorite jobs to date.
Consider what they have in common.
In Judd Apatow’s book, “Sick in the Head”, he has powerful advice. He writes, “Hearing what's in your mind truly makes people feel less alone and gives them hope for things that they want to do and get through things that are difficult." He includes, “I feel like, as creative people, we're all on this journey to get comfortable with who we are, to understand who we are, to find a way for our art to express that."
What’s your inner voice telling you?