I will continue to use my voice, the one I was told is important and matters. ~ Rosario Dawson

I’m not a huge fan of American Idol but have watched it here and there, and the theme I noticed this season has to do with contestants “finding their voice” and being artists who are true to themselves. Now there’s a new kid on the block called The Voice, and the X-Factor coming around the corner as well.

Although on one hand we are attracted to the idea of being plucked from obscurity and thrust into the spotlight, I think our more subconscious obsession with these shows stems from how powerful that little box in our throat really is, because not enough of us use it to its fullest potential.

I have a client who feels she is not heard by her boyfriend, another who is trying to find his voice in his job, another who gets stuck when trying to articulate anything about herself. Shania Twain, who made a living and a fortune living by her voice, lost it after the devastating news of her husband’s betrayal and coming to terms with a traumatic childhood. Nothing is more effective to show us just how essential our voice is to who we are than when it is not there.

I recently had the privilege of meeting one of the most distinctive and profound voices in our society today, Dr.Cornel West, who was being honored, along with Rosario Dawson and former Mayor David Dinkins, at the very aptly named Voices, the annual gala for The Brotherhood Sister Sol, an organization that empowers low-income Black and Latino youths to become agents of social change through education, activism and spoken word. West, a frequent guest on mainstream TV talk shows, always has an intelligent and entertaining discourse with his host and speaks my kinda language about love, courage and shared humanity; he is an extremely unique voice of reason in a sea of media madness.

At the end of the event, the students’ poem said you “can’t sing when your guard is up and your mouth is closed…..The consequences of silence are intolerable.” No matter who you are, without your voice and your Voice, you are lost.

The logo and ads for The Voice show two fingers up in a V; I realized it’s no small coincidence that this is also the sign of peace and victory, as they are all intertwined. Because when you find your Voice and use it, you feel at peace with yourself and can be Victorious in overcoming any obstacle — and that is Vital.

Whether you want to sing like Christina or Shania, speak out like Rosario and Cornel, or are from Madonna’s generation or Gaga’s, it’s up to each of us to use what we’ve got, so give me a buzz and I’ll make you see how wonderful it is that you were Born this Way and then help you Express Yourself hey hey…

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Originally published on kristinaleonardi.com on May 10, 2011

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Kristina Leonardi is a nationally recognized career and life coach, speaker and author who for over 14 years has empowered individuals to make lasting professional and personal changes aligned with their true passions and talents while fulfilling their role in the world at large.With a holistic and personal growth-oriented approach, she has helped hundreds of men and women over the past decade improve their job performance, enter or re-enter the job force, change careers, better manage their time and stress, and live happier, more meaningful, balanced lives. Her specialty is working with people who feel stuck or are in transition and can help you clarify exactly what you want to do, identify blocks, issues, and patterns in your way, and offer proven ideas, resources, and action steps to get you there.

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Speaker,Coach,Writer.Very Tall. Expertise:People. All kinds, what makes 'em tick, how they fit into the world, how they can best connect to themselves + others.