6 Steps to Finding Your Authentic Voice

by Kelly K. O'Neil

It takes courage to speak from your true, authentic voice. Heck, it even takes courage to FIND your voice. And that roadblock -- courage -- can prove fatal to aspiring leaders and emerging business owners. Why? Because the fear to be who you truly are renders you powerless. It sets you up for failure, right from the beginning, by operating your message from a place of fear. After that? Nothing else that follows is truly authentic.

Trust me, your clients will smell that fear. They'll know you're not being authentic. Nothing will repel them more. But, before you speak from your true, authentic voice, you must first find it. For many of you, that involves stripping away layers of fear. So how do you get started?

Put Pen to Paper. For some of you, it will be easier to find your voice in print before you find it out loud. Whether you write for others -- blogs, e-mails, letters, reviews, etc. -- or for yourself (in the form of journaling, ranting, raving, etc.). Whether you write with pen and paper or keyboard and screen. Whatever you do -- just start writing. This voice is often your most true voice. Why? Because it's what you say to yourself in your head ... not necessarily what you say out loud.

Hung up with writing? Don't let it stop you. Grab a phone that can record, a mini recorder ... anything ... and start talking it out in front of the mirror, in the bathtub, on a walk in the woods -- whatever works for you. The important part is to let your voice out ... in the privacy of your own world ... in the way it best flows for you.

Get Organized. As you get in the habit of writing, patterns will emerge. There will be a lot of junk, but there will also be some gems. Think of yourself as a sculptor -- you have to carve away at the crap to find the shape of the treasure inside. Go back through what you wrote (or recorded) and edit away at the junk. Don't rewrite your thoughts entirely -- or, even worse, shape them into someone else's. Just cut away at the extraneous stuff. The emotional stuff. All the extra. We're looking at identifying your voice here ... not analyzing your every thought.

Write Power Statements. Now that you've found your voice, relate it to your business ... to your mission and vision ... to your goals. In YOUR voice, write statements about what you hope to achieve, why you hope to achieve it and how you will do so. How will you improve the world? The lives of others? Why do you want to?

Edit. Yes. Again. Go back through step 3 with the same eye you used during the second step. Are you being true to your voice? If there's anything grandiose, or doesn't sound like you'd say it to yourself in your own head, chop it up and start over. Often, when you get away from writing (or speaking) to yourself, you get further away from your voice. Put yourself back in the place where you are speaking to only yourself.

Don't Be Afraid. Now that you've found your voice, share it without fear. Speak from this true place with courage. This is who you are. This is what you do. And your ideal clients -- the ones you will cherish working with and who will become your most raving fans -- will like you and appreciate you for it.

Revisit As Necessary. Go back through this homework frequently to help remind you of your voice and ensure you aren't going too far off track. Since this is your true, inner voice, it won't be necessary to actually revise your statements much, but feel free to evolve them as you change, as you gain more courage, as you become more secure speaking from your true, authentic place.

These six steps will help you find the power to speak from authenticity and truth, and the courage to stand behind who you really are. Don't get me wrong: Not everyone will love you for it. In fact, same may hate you for it. But part of running a successful business is not necessarily having everyone like you. But the people who make a true difference are not the ones hiding their voices. It's the ones embracing who they are. And you should be one of them. Swing by my Facebook page and let me know what you thought.

© 2012 Kelly O'Neil International.

Kelly O'Neil, Founder and CEO of Kelly O'Neil International, best-selling author and award winning brand marketing strategist, is one of the most sought-after brand marketing and results coaches for conscious entrepreneurs and aspiring women leaders.

Kelly is the inspirational driving force behind a rapidly expanding business empire that includes Ignite Business Coaching™, Millionaire Prodigy Club™, The Women's Leadership Academy™ and The Excellence Society™. She is committed to helping entrepreneurs find their authentic voice, design strategies and brand platforms to share their unique message and strategically build profitable businesses. For free resources, training materials and to sign up to receive a free CD "7 Simple Success Practices of Extraordinary Entrepreneurs," as well as Kelly's Arrive Ezine, visit http://www.kellyoneil.com.

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