Periods of Transition and Finding your Voice

The following is a message crafted to Business Students at Algonquin College published on January 4, 2013. During an insightful conversation with new Orientation, Transition, Retention (OTR) staff, I have come to realize that the idea of mastering our voice is something everyone is trying to achieve. To that end, I share with you three general guidelines to establishing your voice in this periods of transition. Please share your thoughts and own voice discovery journey in the comments below or share the post with those who you know in a period of transition.

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To be heard. To be seen. To be connected to the world and people around us. Sounds simple… right? Whether you are finding your voice in the traditional context of singing or writing, or trying to find your voice as a member of the human race, the process is long and full of stumbling blocks. Take a moment and think about the transition you are making in life right now. Are you starting a new job? Starting college for the first-time or even preparing for Graduation? These periods of transition trigger questions of acceptance and belonging. 

In fact every time you look at a situation it comes down to you. For it does not matter what shape the transition takes, if you do not know who you are, then you will always feel as if you do not belong. (Sarah Breathnach, Moving on: Creating Your House of Belonging with Simple Abundance) How do people then become masters of their voice? The answer will surprise you, reflection. 

To Be Heard.

Ever heard the phrase, shouting out into the void? I’ve seen many people who believe being heard means being loud. Sometimes the most closely followed and listened to people are those who speak with reflection and impact. Here is a tip to start being heard: pause for a moment before you make your next point. See the sentence in your mind’s eye and ask yourself, does this statement add value to the listener? Over time you will start to notice more people start asking your opinion and thoughts on topics. Stay focused and soon you’ll be noted as a go to person.

To Be Seen.

“One of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen.” (John O Donohue) The idea of being seen is much more than everyone’s desire for their fifteen-minutes of fame. In fact – who actually remembers half the winners of most reality television shows anymore? Fame and popularity are not the same as visibility. To be seen is to be confident in one’s space. This part takes a lot of time and is not about receiving recognition. Here is a tip to start being seen: Start with a simple greeting: hi, hello, good morning etc. Greetings are a low risk way of letting those around you know that you are present and ready to engage. It is also common practice in our western culture to respond with a phrase like, “Hi, how are you?” This gives you an opportunity to continue the conversation. With some consistency and time you will come to find that people say hi even before you have a chance to greet them. 

To Be Connected.

By default we are connected by societal labels like the big four “Age, Race, Gender and Religion”. Take advantage of these natural groupings to begin finding like-minded people who can challenge and refine your voice. There is a second part to feeling connected and that is giving of oneself. While it is important to work on advancing your working career, you also need to advance your philanthropy. There is nothing that brings humans together more than the act of charity. Take a moment to reflect and find something you can give selflessly to a cause that supports your passion. Being connected in person and in passion creates synergy that amplifies the voice you have been nurturing.

Through reflection, time, and consistency you can bring the three components of finding a voice – To Be Heard. To Be Seen. To Be Connected. – to fruition and start engaging with the world around you in a whole new way. The next time you are in a moment of transition, ask how will you choose to use your voice?

Jeremy McQuigge

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada