When my son Landon was really young, he would sometimes speak in a strange little elf-like voice. He usually did this when he was in a situation where he was, as least by my interpretation, uncomfortable or embarrassed or less than confident. Almost like a mask he was hiding behind to shield him from discomfort.
And I remember one evening when we had family at our house for dinner, my son walked over to ask Adam, my brother-in-law, a question. In the voice. Adam turned to Landon and said, “Landon, I’d like you to speak to me me in your voice. I want to hear your voice.” And he did.
From that day on, the elfish voice slowly drifted away. Now my son speaks in his own voice, with his own unique sense of humor, which I quite enjoy despite often being the recipient of his jokes. But alas, it is the prerogative of every teenager to make fun of their dad.
As creative individuals, one of the hardest things we will ever do is to learn to speak, and trust, in our own voice. It’s scary to put your self out there. To be judged and possibly rejected or ridiculed. It is easier as an artist to mimic another well-respected artist. Easier to follow their well-worn footsteps. Easier to hide out under a false mask. It shields us from discomfort. But we will never fill the full measure of our creative potential as long as we speak in another artist’s voice.
Every artist, be you a painter, a chef, a yoga instructor, a carpenter, or an app developer, owes it to the world to “speak” in your own unique voice. To paint your way. To combine spices and herbs your way. To give a sales presentation your way. To mill lumber your way.
We think people won’t like what they hear. Trust me, they will.