I was pumped. 300 people were about to enter this amazing event where I was the keynote speaker. Nerves. Excitement. Adrenaline. I needed to breath. I said to the AV guy – can we check the slides and music just one more time. He smiled – of course we can! Next to me was my 14 year old daughter and the events team who were also feeling the energy. The music blasted thought the room. What a great song! Then time seemed to stand still. I could see the MC walk up to us with a slight smile on her face and a focused look. She had something to say.

“Are you playing that song?” I replied yes I am.

“Well that’s ridiculous!”

I froze. Everyone was in shock. I could feel the cortisol flood every ounce of my body. I knew what I needed to say and I couldn’t find my voice (that has changed today and I have found it!). Why would she say this I wondered? I am about to go on stage!

Then my daughter says in her courageous and wonderful voice as she stands tall next to me – “what’s your issue as it is a great song and she is playing it!” (it was This Girl is on Fire by Alicia Keys). Today several years later, she has the best voice for others and her convictions.

The group had a little giggle. The MC didn’t respond and she walked away. I was incredibly proud and everyone thanked her for sticking up for me. I gave her the biggest hug. WOW!

I rocked that keynote that night and asked AV to play the song even louder! This girl was absolutely on fire….!

 “Never be afraid to speak your mind, you have one for a reason.” – Sarah Moores.

As soon as I thought about the topic for this article and my book Just Rock It!, I thought, “Hmmm… how many people are actually willing to sit around and think about whether they’ve found their voice?”

Yes, who has time for that? Between your job, taking care of kids/dogs/chinchillas/whatever, trying to put a decent meal on the table, spending time with family and friends, laundry, dishes, and doing everything else in between, it’s kind of like, “Seriously? My voice?”

I hear you, I hear you. Anyway, I’ll put this all together for you in a nutshell:

1.  Finding your voice is really, really important—it helps you define who you are.

2.  Only after finding your own voice can you successfully lead others.

Do I have your attention now? I hope so.

I wholeheartedly believe that developing confidence is the key to cultivating your voice.

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak.” -Winston Churchill.

If you find your inner confidence, you’ll be able to develop your natural gifts and engage in work that uses your talents. In turn, you’ll fuel your passions and become absolutely unstoppable!

Go to my website and check out my AMAZING new workshops and programs for 2023!

This stuff gets me so excited, and it also reminds me of my client Melanie’s story.

Melanie had been working for a non-profit organisation for about ten years and ultimately realised, “I’m not good at this, and I’m not enjoying it, either. Why am I killing myself to wake up at five o’clock in the morning every day?” She realised that her freelance writing side jobs were far more satisfying to her than her actual job. (She’d been spending every lunch hour working on her freelancing jobs, anyway.)

So she bravely quit her day job (she had to do a few power poses in the process), kept freelancing, and then eventually began her own publishing firm. She’s a raging success in her own right and employs several other successful agents.

Undoubtedly, Melanie found her voice.

Okay, now it’s your turn. What do you really love to do? What is your natural talent? What really interests you? What if you took a critical look at your life’s work and asked yourself, “Do I understand myself? Am I completely comfortable with who I am? Am I doing what I’m meant to do?” (Scary, I know.)

Most leadership junkies have heard of the late Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. If you haven’t, I highly encourage reading it soon. In Covey’s book The 8th Habit, he explains how leadership greatness is all about finding your voice. He encourages you to make sure that your body, mind, heart and spirit are all engaged in what is important to you, and once you’ve found your voice, you can turn around and help others find theirs.

Isn’t this “voice” stuff a really great analogy for leadership?

I feel extremely fortunate to be able to help people find their voices every day. To me, this is akin to being an obstetrician and delivering tiny miracles all the time. People (you) have so much leadership potential; it’s truly amazing!

Have I worked with people who aren’t in the right field? Have I worked with people who aren’t developing the right set of talents for themselves?

You bet, and that can be a hard, terrifying reality to swallow. But you know what? It can also be the most liberating.

I’ve actually said this to a 35-year-old professional: “You know, I just don’t think sales and marketing is the right field for you. Instead, I think your strengths lie in event planning. Wow, you’d shine there.”

The woman I gave that advice to promptly burst into tears. She said, “Sonia, I’ve never felt at ease at work. I’m just not good at marketing. I like things to be structured, orderly and I think you’re exactly right.”

Within weeks, she obtained a different position within her company and the last time I checked, she was happily using her innate talents to organise a major conference and also had a few interns under her tutelage. (I marvelled at seeing her do that—she was inspiring others to find their voices. The 8th habit, in action. Wow!)

Remember this well: In order to add lasting impact—real, meaningful value to your workplace, your profession, your life—you must first find your own voice.

Only after you’ve accomplished that can you lead others, and lead them well.

By Sonia McDonald – CEO Of LeadershipHQ And McDonald Inc. Leadership Coach, Global Keynote Speaker, Entrepreneur, CEO And Award Winning Author.

Sonia is passionate about her voice. When Sonia speaks, everyone in the room feels like she is having a conversation with them as her audience will feel as if they are the only one in the room. She speaks from the heart. She is brave. She wants everyone to be brave. She is an impactful and motivational leadership expert and speaker that creates a life-changing experience. People call Sonia sassy, inspirational, real and a speaker who leaves a lasting impression. Her high-energy, authenticity and humour combined with actionable and practical advice, empowers her audience and provides them with great drive and confidence to take courageous actions and inspire great leadership in all aspects of their lives.

Sonia also is founder of LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc. and is also a renowned and award-winning author, having written several of her own books, Leadership Attitude, Just Rock It! and First Comes Courage as well as being a regular contributor in The Australian, HRD Magazine, Smart Healthy Women and Women’s Business Media. She was named as one of the Top 250 Influential Women in the world as well as Top 100 Australian Entrepreneurs by Richtopia.

Through her leadership advisory and coaching work at LeadershipHQ, and founding the Outstanding Leadership Awards, Sonia is internationally recognised as an expert in leadership and culture, organisational development, neuroscience, kindness, and courage.

Sonia is also a full-time single parent and has a passion for women in business and teenage mental health. Sonia travels and speaks across Australia and Globe, and she is on a mission to building a world of great leaders and leadership.