One of my all-time least favorite cliches is, “Those who can’t do, teach.” I can’t stand it. It bothers me because I think of how much the teachers in my life have impacted me--how much they did for my life--and I think it underscores the critical importance of their jobs.
It also bothers me because I am a teacher. And as a competitive, ambitious person, I really don’t want to think it’s because I’m not good at doing anything.
That little phrase bothered me enough that after teaching public speaking for a few years I applied to give a TED talk. I am not going to be a teacher who can’t do, I thought. So I became a public speaking teacher who was also a public speaker.
Now, my business is all about empowering people to use their voices. I do that when I help students become better speakers and I do that when I help entrepreneurs put their ideas into words. I always emphasize the importance of being vulnerable and courageous and sincere.
It has been on my mind that I, too, need to do what I teach. There are times I need to use my voice more boldly. That is one of the primary reasons I promised myself I would march in the Women’s March in Dallas this year.
Two more reasons are named Lucy and Phoebe.
I had an amazing experience. I got to march with a friend (hi, Claire!) and her mom, who told us stories of marching in the ERA marches in Washington DC. I was energized by the thousands of people who gathered to support a future that would give my daughters the game-changing ability to say yes and to say no to matters regarding their careers, their lifestyles, their partnerships, and their bodies--and to be heard when they do so.
I also got to see my friend Susan, host of the podcast How She Got Here: Conversations with Everyday Extraordinary Women. If you know me at all, you know that I love a good podcast and I especially love one whose goal is to provide a platform for extraordinary women. You know, then, that I was beyond excited when Susan invited me to co-host an episode with her about the Women’s March.
In the episode, Susan and I share why we marched and talk about our experiences. I listened back to the episode for the first time this morning, and three key themes jumped out at me that drove home why using your voice is so important--and so life-changing.
1. Using your voice allows you to define for yourself who you are and what you stand for.
I can be the queen of awkward, and it has stopped me from entering a lot of conversations in my life. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know where I stand, I don’t even know how I feel.
As I’ve grown, I have learned to push awkwardness to the side and to become an active participant in conversations when I can. It has helped me immensely to talk through and articulate my own values and goals.
Maybe you don’t know what you stand for. Maybe you don’t know how to explain who you are or what you do to other people. But if you wait until you have that clarity to even enter the conversation, you’re never going to feel ready and you’re never going to allow yourself to work toward the clarity you seek.
2. Using your voice allows you to find your people.
When I moved to Dallas a few years ago, I only knew a handful of people. I remember vividly the first time (probably two years later) I randomly ran into someone I knew at a coffee shop. I was elated. I felt like I had made it. Now, I can credit every friendship I have, every client I have, and every dollar I’ve made to one thing: saying something.
How old is your son? What do you teach? How do you know each other? How long have you lived here? Tell me about your work. Are you free for lunch? Do you know anyone else who might be interested? Yes, I’ll do it. Thank you; I’ll be there.
I didn’t march in the Women’s March during the first two years for the simple reason that I didn’t have anyone to go with. (Besides Alex, who definitely would have gone with me. So really, I had no excuse.) Now that I have a supportive tribe, I get to be the one inviting others and helping to make connections. It has transformed my friendships, my business, and my life.
3. Using your voice is important. Listening to other voices is important, too.
This is why I love Susan’s platform for How She Got Here so much. She created a place for women to tell their stories, and listening to stories is how we connect with people. It’s how we learn to understand each other when it feels like we have nothing in common. It pulls us out of isolation of our own life and our own beliefs and opens us up to new ideas.
Check out our episode (aka listen to me try my best not to be awkward while Susan breezes through it like a pro) on How She Got Here. And support Susan’s platform for Everyday Extraordinary Women by subscribing to the podcast and following her How She Got Here on Instagram and Facebook.
Cover photo by Hunter Lacey.