Recently, I hired a new coach, one who can help me with something I’ve struggled with for a very long time. Most of you know that besides coaching, I teach leadership, and one day not long ago, I had the opportunity to record myself teaching a class solo. I usually co-lead our leadership program, but my partner was out of town, so I was on my own. While I was editing the recording for her, and watching myself lead a class about purpose and (ironically) presence I realized that good god, I needed help.
I have always had a low and quiet voice. One of my superpowers is the ability to talk at the same tone as the room’s ambient sound. Clients and students tell me that in coaching sessions, that my voice is very soothing, so it has its uses. In front of a class, soothing doesn’t get the job done.
So within a week I hired a voice acting coach, and leading up to the first lesson I was super excited. This guy is going to help me fix this problem for good, I thought. I was visualizing success like crazy, like we all do when we start with a new coach or a new plan. Me? I was going to be the most popular lecturer on campus. I should start a YouTube channel and share my new vocal gifts with the world.
I had my sheet of practice words and phrases, and I was practicing in my office, reading them over and over; enunciating like Eliza Doolittle’s nerdy grandson. Then came the first class. “Do you realize how flat and monotonous your voice is?” my coach asked me. “Are your students distracted when you talk to them? Are you losing them, because I’m not sure I could pay attention for very long.”
Huh. Well, yeah. That was something I wanted to work on. I may not be William Shatner over here, but boring? So I found the appropriate level to manage that stinger, and we went to work on the section “speaking with emotion”. Man, it was hard. I was thinking about volume, about enunciating, about opening my mouth wide enough for the sound to get out, and now I have to concentrate on sounding interesting? “Well yes, that’s how people talk,” my coach replied. I knew I was an alien.
But no, I was ready to do the work, and in the three weeks since, I’ve realized that this may be the hardest work I have ever done. All those things I remind you to do; paying attention in the moment, interrupting those bad habits with a new thought and action, and dealing with those feelings of frustration and desperation when you get it wrong. These are the things that test our Grit. This week’s lesson is all about emoting, and I’m still excited and determined, and guys, part of me wants to skip class.
I just want you to know that I get it. We repeat it all the time. Changes are made in the moments, and that is a lot easier to say than do. It sounds trite to say that if it’s hard, it’s worth doing, and in this case it’s true. We’ve decided to make the change and to grow, so when we start pushing on the difficult bits, we know we’re on to something. Even better, we know we’re actually getting it done.
Oh, and I raised my stakes too. I went ahead and started that YouTube channel, so I’d better get good at this talking thing. I’m going to have a fan base to talk to. How will you raise your stakes?
Have a great week.