Lesson of the Week

Speaking in, up, and out: I have a voice

Bob was a greeter. “He helped me see the best of who I am and I continue to use his positive energy to carry on my work,” stated a friend.  Like Bob, your voice can be an influence for good.

Your voice comes in three stages:  speaking in, speaking up, and speaking out.

Speaking in:  The first appearance of your voice comes as thoughts.  Research dictates that approximately twenty percent of these thoughts are helpful and about eighty percent are not.  Speaking in requires that you know the difference.

There is a tale about a tiny little imp that wanted to rule the world.  The imp sat on the human’s shoulder and murmured, “You are stupid.  You don’t know what you are doing.”  In this way, the imp thought it could take over the human mind.  However, the imp was not successful.  The imp went to the head imp and asked, “Why can’t I control humans?”  The head imp imparted the solution.  The little imp went back, sat on the human’s shoulder, and quietly whispered, “I am stupid, I don’t know what I am doing.”  The human unwittingly took the imp’s whispers as his own thought.  Using “I am”, the imp had control.

The moral of the story is to know the “I” of who is speaking in your head.  Effective speaking in means knowing who you are and choosing thoughts that are in accord with your mission.

On your mission, have a powerful, effective voice — speaking in.

Speaking up:  The second appearance of your voice comes through what you say to others.

A woman bought a fancy new front-loading clothes washer that cost twice as much as the top-loading machine.  One problem: the new washer did not clean clothes.  She returned to the store and the sales person shamed her and told her she wasn’t using the machine properly.  The woman tried every conceivable way to properly use the washing machine and it still didn’t get the clothes clean.

She found her voice and returned to the store.  This time she spoke up intelligently, rationally, and gave a powerful legal argument against keeping the machine.  The salesperson attempted his shaming tactic but this time it didn’t work.  He acquiesced and returned her money.  An important lesson was learned:  speaking up effectively is imperative to accomplishing a mission.

The woman learned to speak “in” by researching her issues and rehearsing her points.  She learned to speak “up” by intelligently stating her position and not letting fear or tears sabotage her resolve.  After further investigation, she discovered a flaw in the design that prohibits getting clothes clean.  Her next step might be to speak out for others who have been scammed by buying this product.

On your mission, have a powerful, effective voice – speaking up.

Speaking out:  The third appearance of voice comes when you speak out for others.  Advocacy and activism are examples of speaking out.

Speaking out could be the very thing that gives your mission meaning.  Jeffrey Kottler has written extensively on speaking out.  He wrote,  “The more you can get out of yourself and reach out to others, the more meaningful and satisfying life can be.” He explains that you will feel wonderful when you advocate for others.  (Doing Good:  Passion and Commitment for Helping Others)

On your mission, have a powerful, effective voice – speaking out.


The voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.

- Margaret Atwood, Canadian Writer


Activity:  A Second Chance

Materials:  Paper and pen or pencil

Time:  Ten minutes to write and ten minutes per person to discuss the results.


1.  Think of a time when you failed to speak in, speak up, or speak out effectively.
a.  Write a description of what happened.
b.  Tell why you chose this story.
c.   Explain why you thought this was an example of failure.

2.  Imagine that you have a second chance to effectively speak in, speak up, or speak out (using the example you chose in number one).
a. Write down the words that you would use now.
b. Why couldn’t you use these words before?
c.  What enables you to speak in, speak up, or speak  out now?

3.  Share your story with the others in the group or with a friend or family member you trust.


I have a voice so I can....... We'd like to hear your story about having a voice. Write your story below.