I’d heard the horror stories, but it finally happened last weekend — midway through a 4-day workshop, I lost my voice.
Gone. Poof. Not a sound would come out.
And the timing couldn’t have been worse. 40 people had flown in from all over the country (and the world) to train with me, and I was “powerless” to help them.
Luckily, I have a well-trained and inspirational team that was able to step in and lead the last two days while I had no choice but to surrender to what was happening.
From time to time, I’d pick up the mic to clarify a few things until that was no longer possible and I resorted to typing my feedback for each student on a big screen.
My team joked about becoming the “voice behind the wizard”… as I mourned being a “wizard” without a voice…
But there was a gift in the silence. As there is a gift in every challenge life has ever thrown my way.
In the silence, my thoughts turned to the questions that usually don’t get asked.
I asked myself (in silence of course):
- Where in my life am I not speaking up?
- Where in my life am I unaware of the things I’m saying?
- Where have I criticized or judged myself or others unfairly or unproductively?
When I was really truthful with myself, the answers showed me a few areas where I’d like to grow and evolve. A few areas where v39 of Marisa would like an upgrade. 😉
And, most importantly, I realized what a gift it is to have a voice.
As they say, you don’t fully appreciate what you have until it’s gone. Oh, the things we take for granted every single day!
Your voice is the original instrument.
And with that voice humans have done some pretty incredible things:
- Picture Martin Luther King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over millions of people drawn together by the desire to end the injustice and inequality that still divided our nation:
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
Imagine hearing JFK’s we chose to go to the moon speech at Rice University:
We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win…
- Hear the sound of Alicia Keys voice belting it out like there’s no tomorrow in New York:
In New York; Concrete jungle where dreams are made of; There’s nothing you can’t do Now you’re in New York; These streets will make you feel brand new ; Big lights will inspire you ; Let’s hear it for New York!
- Tune into the sound of your mother’s voice singing you to sleep at night
- The sound of your lover’s voice comforting you through every heartbreak and celebrating every success
- Or the moments when you’ve used your voice to change a situation or inspire, empower or influence someone?
The list goes on and on and on… more moments than even Google can catalogue. Seriously.
So right here right now as I sit in silence unable to use the voice that’s shaped my life, I pledge to use this voice of mine to change the world and create the life and relationships I desire.
I know that when I speak my truth I give others permission to speak theirs. And live theirs. To know that they’re not alone and that they matter.
I call this the Authentic Voice Pledge:
- I pledge to never ever ever take my voice for granted
- I pledge to speak my truth and give full voice to the inspiration as it flows through me
- I pledge to authentically express my true voice without holding back
- I pledge to speak up when I want to stand down. For myself. And for others
- I pledge to understand the full power of the words I speak and the words I write
- I pledge to stand up for those who don’t have a voice or feel incapable of sharing theirs
- I pledge to be kind with my words and use my voice to love, uplift and inspire
- I pledge to always use my voice in service of the greater good. To speak to growth and possibility rather than criticism and judgment
- I pledge to take risks with my voice so I can be heard more often, while remaining mindful of hearing and supporting other voices
- I pledge to be more generous with my listening of others when they dare to speak their truth. To provide an encouraging and caring mirror for them to share more deeply and more vulnerably
- I pledge to let my voice rest when I’m tempted to speak out of integrity with my values
- I pledge to begin a practice of deep listening and deep breathing before speaking
- I pledge to understand the full power of the words I speak and the words I write
- I pledge to speak with conviction and the desire to help
- I pledge to always share my truth and trust that if it inspires one person I’m on purpose.
Huge shout out to my Mentorship students for contributing their thoughts to this pledge as well!
As I explore what these ideas unfold in my life, I’d like to invite you to join me in the Authentic Voice Pledge too.
Let me know if you’re in below in the comments section, and I’d love you to join us at Message to Money LIVE, the yearly event and reunion for my tribe who are committed to finding their authentic voice and living their message.
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Kudo’s for your willingness to identify what was behind the fact that you lost your voice and to your students for the “Authentic Voice Pledge”.
It could be interesting to identify what exactly triggered your reaction – something you heard, you red, or a situation that stirred up some memory and emotion and release it (sorry, that the energy healing therapist speaking…) and it could prevent this from happening again… even if my guess is that the “pledge”had already healing effects.
Like you, I tend to ask myself “what can I learn from this?” which is the most empowering way to react
Brilliant post Marissa. As a speaker, mentor, trainer, I rely on my voice and this totally resonates with me, especially knowing there are times we are responsible for being a voice for others, and for listening.
Beautifully worded and so inspiring. What a wonderful example of ” When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Marisa you went further, you drank some of the lemonade and shared the rest of it with us!
Awesome that you were able to turn a potentially negative event into one for positive change. I am going to copy and paste you pledge and post on my board so that I can remind myself of my purpose. My goal is to step forward in service of others and I want to listen so that I really hear what they want and respond with love and kindness so that my words encourage and uplift.
Voice is absolutely a blessing AND a responsibility! Thank you.
When I lost my voice for prior to and throughout my wedding (to my X), I wish that I had stopped to reflect…and resolved to STOP!! Some lessons we learn the long, hard way 🙂
Marisa are our beacon, giving us hope from real life lessons. I am out of country (in Laos,) but your story brings me right into your workshop and how you engaged Plans B C D to keep the show on the road. I predict that you will bring even more into your universe b/c I see that my SuperHero is genuinely making breakthroughs, still striving, thriving and excelling, always higher and upward and yet vulnerable. Congratulations! We are so fortunate to be a part of your amazing journey. Love and Peace, Annette
Now vacationing in Luang Prabang, a beautiful, tranquil and peaceful place where at 5 am before sunrise,(after sending my email to you), I just watched bald monks of all ages, the youngest around 10 yrs. old, wrapped in orange robes and walking barefoot on their morning sojourn. Each carried his own bamboo basket ready to receive sticky rice from worshipers who sat on low chairs and who formed small round rice balls in their hands – like sushi chefs, to give to about 100 monks who rely on this daily offering for their morning and noontime meals. I believe this is akin to tithing, paying the utmost respect and homage to the monks and the spirit and blessings that they bestow on and carry forth for the city and people. This reminds me of many families who also hold sacred ways and traditions to honor one another. Many boys and girls enter the monastery to become monks and nuns, and there is a direct relationship between the purpose of their life, and active support they receive from their community. BTW, Marisa, I am thrilled to be using FB and receiving your reply! xo
Annette, this is such a lovely post; I would love to share it – have you written this anywhere else, that’s shareable? Thanks! 🙂
Marisa, the voice you have introduced me to is profound, useful, effective and heroic. I will give my authentic voice to my new friends in Guangzhou, China, 2-days after the training. I will extend an invitation to others to acknowledge their gifts of joy, love, gratitude, appreciation, voice and a message. My being-ness will be the first language that I speak with to new my Chinese family with clarity. I pledge to honor them with a silent message, “I am you.”
Hi Marisa and Michelle,
I am delighted to hear from both of you from Luang Prabong before heading to the 100 waterfalls trek today which means my fellow travelers and I will be riding in a van for 7 hours, and then skimming the Mekong River in a flat boat for 2 more hours before returning to the hotel.
As Marisa knows, I am likely the only one in her community not using Facebook and this brings me to wondering if Marisa ought to help me with a tutorial session later. However, I couldn’t help “posting” after Marisa’s swift action to turn losing her voice into winning. She is my amazing leader of the highest level, inspiring me to prevail no matter what!
As for my post – I am sorry I wrote it quickly because I don’t have much time with our touring schedule; however, I feel so honored that you would want to share it, so please do so. I am dedicated to spread my message that we all live/thrive/survive/die in families (work, play, community, worship, etc.)…and our points of view and decisions have everything to do with how successful we are to live and die without regret. (Again thank you Marisa! and to Michelle for your support to spread the word.)
Love and peace,
Greetings! Very helpful dvice within this post! It’s the little changes that
produce the greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!