I often feel less qualified than others to speak out about matters highly technical or philosophical. I studied management of nonprofit organizations but immediately went into the private sector. The year that I graduated, 300 NPOs in my town closed their doors.
So my degree is irrelevant to 99.99999% of the discussions I'm having on any given day, and on the quite rare chance that I've been formally educated on a topic of conversation, I feel invalidated by my lack of experience.
This has been a bit of a hang-up for me, as someone who comes from a highly educated family. I feel invalidated by my irrelevant degree and lack of experience. I often feel I've further invalidated myself with poor choices I've made throughout my young adulthood.
Nevertheless, to let those things prevent me from speaking would be to deny one overwhelming grace given to all of us. That is, we were given consciousness. Awareness. A conscience. It's that "woke-ness" formally known as a 'soul.'
The biblical word for soul refers to the seat of our emotions. The place from which we express our innermost deeply held thoughts and beliefs. It isn't just the place of our feelings, it's the faculties with which we feel at all.
Consciousness is in part God-given our intuition. It's our ability to sense and to perceive and just know.
Did you ever just know something, to your core? You see it and instantly you just know. You just know that it's right. You just know that it's wrong. You just know how to work it out. You just know what to say. That just knowing is our intuition, our consciousness, our soul.
When you speak from the depths of your being, you're speaking from a place no one else on earth can tap into. I can't feed a hose down your throat and siphon out the words that only you can say. Boy, that's a mental image…
I can solicit your perspective. I can 'walk a mile in your shoes' maybe. I can empathize. But I can't borrow your perception of reality—the things that make you so very uniquely you.
Today I read about the inventor of the Flamin' Hot Cheeto. Richard Montañez was a janitor at Frito-Lay and noticed that they didn't have any products that catered to Latinos. He put chili powder on a Cheeto and landed a meeting with Frito's CEO. 27 years later, he's the Vice President of Multicultural sales for PepsiCo America.
What if Montañez had told himself, "No CEO will ever listen to me. I don't have a degree in business. I don't know marketing. I'm not a chef or a food critic. I clean toilets for God's sake, who do I think I am?"
There'd be no Flamin' Hot Cheeto. I mean, try to imagine a world without the Flamin' Hot Cheeto. Go ahead and try.
You may not invent the next Flamin' Hot Cheeto. I mean, that kind of innovation only happens maybe once a millennia. But your voice still matters. Speak. Speak loud. Speak from your own experiences, from your own sense of the world.
Be authentic. Be real. Don't speak in someone else's voice, yours is uniquely you. There are millions of Elvis impersonators out there and none of them are the king of Rock n' Roll.