Friday night, Bob and I watched the movie, “The King’s Speech.” In spite of several important historical misrepresentations, the movie is a powerful story about King George VI’s struggle to conquer his stammer at a time when the popularity of radio was changing how governments communicated with their populace.
One of the most powerful scenes in the movie is when the king’s speech therapist challenges the king with the question, “Why should I listen to you?”
In anger and frustration, the king shouts back, “Because I have a voice!”
The therapist responds, “Yes, you do.”
As creatives and creative entrepreneurs, we constantly struggle to express ourselves in our work and about our work so that it gets heard. This movie teaches us five steps to claiming our voice:
- Be persistent. Stammering since the age of 5, the king willingly tried one specialist after another to conquer his stammer. He almost gives up, but one last time, one last effort, pays off. Don’t quit just before you succeed.
- Let the bigger mission pull you past your fear. The need to appear strong and capable, drove the king to move past his fears of failure, and to keep working on his stammer. If we remember that our creativity is a gift to others as well as ourselves, then perhaps we can keep our fears from silencing us.
- Work with the technology. Like the king, too many of us are intimidated by the technology of our age and thereby fail to get our message and our work out into the world. We don’t have to use it all—mobile phones, blogging, newsletters, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, web videos, etc.—but we do need to select and use a few into in order to communicate with our creative kingdom. With the radio, the king was able to speak to the nation. With today’s internet, you can too.
- Enlist champions. The king had two champions. One was his wife and queen, who never gave up searching for just the right person to help cure his stammer. The other champion, of course, was the speech therapist, Lionel Logue, who never gave up on him and also never saw him as less than he was. In fact, Logue saw the man behind the mask of king and befriended him. In our struggle to express ourselves creatively and successfully, we need people who believe in us and in our work, who will keep us trying when we’d like to give up, and who can find solutions when we can’t do it on our own.
- Accept the crown, in spite of doubts and fears. When his brother, King Edward the VIII abdicates his throne to marry Mrs. Simpson, the Duke of York finally accepts his role as king, even though, as he cries to his wife, it was never his desire, nor his belief that he was fit for it. He feels like a fraud. How many times have you felt that way when your work is singled out for recognition or awards? The challenge is to accept the crown of your creativity, be willing to be recognized, take on the responsibility of your success.
Achieving success in our creativity or creative work isn’t easy. We have to be persistent, get past our fears and doubts, take on the challenge of ever-changing technology in order to reach our audience, and be willing to believe we can be greater than we thought.
It isn’t easy, but your work needs a voice. Doubt it? Then try shouting aloud, “I have a voice!”
Then look for and enlist a champion who will say back to you, “Yes, you do.”
Yes, you do!