Voice at the back

Voice at the back

Do you have the voice that lives at the back of your mind? It might be about something that happened to you earlier in life, even in your childhood. It might be a concern you have about a weakness, physical, mental or moral. It might be a nagging, unresolved conflict with someone else or an event that left a nasty taste in your mouth. Most of us have such a voice at the back of our mind, at least at some stage of our lives. It can be very debilitating.

I had such a voice for many, many years, from the earliest I can remember. It made me uncertain of my own opinions. For reasons that I could not fathom I felt that the obvious (aka common-sense) view of things was somehow wrong. It drove me to a point where I always went for what I suspected was the wrong answer to test that first because, I reasoned, the obvious answer was, well, too obvious. I thought that if I gave it I would be derided.

My disrupted childhood may well have been the cause of my bizarre thinking. Maybe my common-sense approach had been driven out of me or I had been persuaded that the obvious was wrong. It took me many years to get over it and I began to do so only when I was working for the second of the two advertising agencies that employed me. At the time I didn’t associate the increasing confidence I was acquiring with the creative people around me. Later it was obvious that my own burgeoning creativity was the cause of the change.

As soon as I put 2 + 2 together I realised two things. Being creative was not some magic gift bestowed by someone ethereal, or even by my parents. It was an application of common-sense in an imaginative and challenging way. All promotion I achieved from that point on in my career was due to my asking the right questions at the right time and in the right way. It was thoughtful questioning, of course, and considerate, too. It worked.

The confidence that grew from the realisation that I could be creative and that my common-sense was not warped but very much to the point, set me on a new path in my career and in my personal life as well. I discovered that making mistakes was a lesson not a sin. My thoughts began to be for other people first and myself second with the unexpected result that I was much happier. I learned to play with words and ideas, to be outrageous in positive ways and to appreciate the good things that happened to me. Not perfect but terrific.

Above all I learned that progress is made for the human race by getting quickly to the heart of the matter. So much of our life is distraction, so many people want to obfuscate not clarify. Such fake talk, false promises, dashed hopes. The great thing is that the creative human being gets through it and reaches the heart of the matter. That solves the problem.

Lemn Sissay, the amazing poet & playwright, gave me the idea of ‘the voice at the back of your mind’. His childhood was more disruptive than mine. He said that even today he feels safer on stage than off it.

Just as well, I think, because we are all on stage, all the time.

May you give a Terrific performance.

Terrific Mentors International runs courses in creativity, “the heart of the matter” and building your confidence. Just email us at mentors@terrificmentors.com