Tonight my voice teacher is having her first performance group of the year. Her adult students (voice and piano) come together to perform for each other. Even though I love an audience, whether speaking or singing, I’m a little nervous. I’m singing an Italian aria, “Intorno all’idol mio,” by Antonio Cesti (1623-1669) (who was a Franciscan priest in addition to being a composer). I’d like to sing it from memory, but singing in Italian without the music is scary.
My teacher, Judi Stabler, says when you try to sing like somebody else it sounds bad. So the task is to find the way to let your own voice come out. I had a lot of bad habits that I’ve had to work on letting go of. So as my voice improves, I sound like myself, only better. I can hear the difference, and so can others.
In the same way as we grow into our leadership, finding our voice as a leader, our true self comes out more fully and in a more mature way. So being ourselves doesn’t mean we just hang around in our pajamas and say, “Here I am, take it or leave it.” Instead, we express ourselves more fully and truly in a way that has increasing depth and integrity. This does not happen overnight, and it never happens 100%, just as with my singing. On any given day I may sing better or worse, and on any given day I may get tripped up as a leader, or do better than I ever thought possible. It’s a process.
Where are you in your growth as a leader? What can you do to explore your own voice more fully?