I consistently work with clients who are struggling to find their voice. To say what is theirs to say, in their own words, so that the people who need to hear them can not only read the most resonant words on a page, but also feel them in their bones.
You don't develop that kind of awareness and specificity overnight.
And you don't develop it by letting the language of your favorite books, mentors, and peers serve as stand-ins until you find your own words. It's an easy mistake and one I've made. When you're floating in the chilly ocean of ambiguity, stock phrases and cliches look like pretty tempting driftwood to cling to. Don't.
RELATED: How to Find Your Voice
Take the time to find your own language. Your own metaphors. Your own way of reaching people. How? Talk to your people. Or whoever you want to be your people. Find the intersection of what they desperately need and what you inherently have to give. And please: talk to them like a person, not a website or business manual you read.
This process is on-going. Your work will evolve, and by necessity, your language. Try words on. Throw them off. Grow into new phrases. Then outgrow them.
As in any industry, there are plenty of "coach-speak" catchphrases in the coaching industry. You're bound to run into them if you ready coachy blogs. I'm sure some of them have crept into my vocabulary with such slyness I haven't even noticed their shadows in my own writing and conversation.
But there are just some coachy things that you will never hear me say.
Why? Because they're not in my natural voice. I don't have the thoughts that provoke those words, they taste bad in my mouth, and they sound like the spirit of a stranger when I say them.
Friends and peers I admire and respect claim these same coachy things as their own language. And you know what? They sound like people when they say them. There's no disconnect. The words works for them, and it calls the right people to them.
This is not about making value judgements about phrases and words. It's about owning your language, and ditching what doesn't feel like home.
Here are 5 coachy things you will never hear me say*:
1. I'm holding space for you.
I kinda like this metaphor, but I'm not saying' this with a straight face.
2. Live your truth.
Again, I like the message. But this phrase doesn't hold much power for me. Like, how? Could I see that in a 3 point plan, please?
3. Lean into your fear.
I like leaning…I like leaning in…Lean into your fear. Nope. Not my style.
4. Live in the questions.
Excellent advice…can't say this one. I might say, "Get comfortable with the discomfort of not knowing."
5. Make your world/life more sparkly.
I hate glitter. I don't want make anything more sparkly, especially your life.
*I reserve the right to change my mind and reappropriate these phrases at any time. Tune in for my article next week, "Holding space while you live your truth, lean into fear, and live in the questions...with sparkles!"