“The King’s Speech” is the powerful, Oscar-winning true story of one man’s quest to find his voice and of those closest to him who help him find it. For a description of the story, read my post. As the red light in King George VI’s broadcast room begins blinking to signal the momentous moment for the royal global broadcast, his speech therapist and friend Lional Logue, knowing how nervous the King is, says to the King, “Forget everything else and just say it to me.”
So I've been unpacking the three parts of that statement--what they say about discovering your unique, personal significance (your voice) and how can you use your voice to put your unique stamp on the world. My last post described the importance of not letting the past define your present and future. Now for the second part of Lionel's statement to the King.
And just say it …
This too is a challenge. One of the problems is, as our internet-based society is showing us, there is no lack of voices shouting stuff all the time. Much of the time it's just noise. People think that because the web gives an instant global platform, all they have to do is shout out and the world listens. Not true. We have to know what we’re trying to say; and to say it so that people truly listen, it has to come from inside us and express who we are so that there's genuine alignment; which means we have to know ourselves, to believe ourselves, to have confidence in who we are.
This is a 3-step process and journey: self-awareness that must be followed by self possession that produces authentic self expression.
I like the way Stephen Covey, in his powerful book The 8th Habit, defines Voice: “Voice is unique personal significance--significance that is revealed as we face our greatest challenges and which makes us equal to them.” (p. 5)
Here’s how he describes finding this Voice. Voice lies at the nexus between four areas of our lives: Talent; Passion; Need; and Conscience.
Talent – your natural gifts and strengths; Passion – those things that naturally energize, excite, motivate, and inspire you; Need – a problem in the world that speaks to you and that you can effectively help solve, including what the world needs enough to pay you for; and Conscience – that still, small voice within that assures you of what is right, truth for you, and that prompts you to actually do it.
“When you engage in things that tap your talent and fuel your passion – that rises out of a great need in the world that you feel drawn by conscience to help meet – therein lies your voice, your calling, your soul’s code.” (p. 5)
Here’s the truth: there is a deep, innate, almost inexpressible yearning within each one of us to find our voice in life. King George VI (Bertie) felt that yearning. The reason he acted out in such anger and rage often was because he couldn’t understand his Voice – he didn’t think he had a Voice or certainly wasn’t worthy of a Voice or simply wasn’t capable of expressing his Voice if he had one – he was stumped, paralyzed by the many impediments in his life, speech being only one of them. But the longing was there. He had a conscience that was prompting him. He began to develop a passion. He certainly was aware of the need in his Empire that the King was called to meet. And little by little he developed and embraced his talents, his unique strengths and gifts. Until finally he expressed what ended up being a very powerful Voice not only in his Empire but also in the world.
Jesus, who was called the Word, spoke with such power because he spoke with his true voice, the voice that came from his personal truth, his identity as the true expression of God. The New Testament writers referred to him as the Word of God. And when Jesus spoke, people were drawn to him, they listened, they were moved, inspired, and transformed. He wasn't just making noise. He had captured his voice and spoke it with authority because it came from his core identity. "I am the truth, the way, and the life," he said. He not only spoke his voice, he lived his voice. His voice found its highest expression in action. The two were perfectly aligned. And people followed, finding their own voice along the way, too.
So I have to enter into self-awareness – to look at these four areas to see what my unique truth is – what the expression of my core self truly is. Have you ever noticed like I have that the closer we get to this truth, the more our conscience begins to activate – I start feeling strongly in my inner spirit about expressing this truth. I feel dis-ease unless I'm expressing this truth. That’s conscience – that’s the spirit in me that is tapping into the Divine Spirit and Fingerprint within me. That Spirit is calling out to be expressed in my personal, unique way. And when that conscience speaks and pushes strongly enough, I have to do something about it. I have to act.
And the first action is the courage of self possession of that truth. I must embrace myself with confidence. I accept myself for who I truly am. I begin to see clearly my uniqueness and I start falling in love with it.
So much so that then I compelled to the next action - authentic self expression – I have to do something tangible about it. I know--I speak--I act.
The Hebrew prophet named Jeremiah described this undying urge to express his Voice. He was a prophet with an almost impossible task: speak truth to people who had lost their voice and their identity and had wandered far from God. His challenge: they didn't want to hear him speak truth. So they persecuted him, laughed at him, ridiculed him, refused to listen to him, and ultimately killed him. He faced the temptation regularly to give up, to stop speaking his voice from God, and take an early retirement. But whenever he was tempted, here's what happened to him:
9 Sometimes I say to myself,
"Forget it! No more God-Messages from me!"
But then the Words becomes like a burning fire inside me,
deep within my bones.
I get tired of trying to hold it inside of me,
and finally, I cannot hold it in.” Jeremiah 20:9
Once I find my voice, my true voice that comes from deep inside me and reflects my personal truth and identity, I am compelled to speak it, even at great cost. That's my conscience working, nudging me to speak, empowering me to confidence and courage. And that conscience won't stop until you and I speak and live our voice, just like Jeremiah, just like Jesus, and even like King George VI.
PERSONAL REFLECTION: Take some time to define and flesh out what each of those four areas Covey refers to would look like in your life. Where do they all converge for you? How does that describe your Voice – your unique personal significance?
Next post, we'll look at the last part of The King's Speech: what do we need in place to be empowered to speak our voice courageously?