I’m delighted to introduce you to Todd Henry.
Todd is a thinker and writer on creativity, innovation, and productivity. Over the past few years, I’ve come to really enjoy his work. You can find his podcast among my favorites on my phone! He has a new book just out, Louder Than Words: Harness the Power of Your Authentic Voice, and I learned so much from it. We are giving away two signed copies – leave a comment below to enter to win.
I recently had a rich conversation with Todd about his book. You can listen to the audio of our chat if you’d like – included at the bottom of the post, but I want to start you off right away with 5 powerful ideas from Louder Than Words that you won’t want to miss.
1. Have you ever thought about how to “find your voice?” Todd’s perspective is that you won’t so much find your voice as develop your voice. It is a process that happens over time, and that can happen consciously. I love that, and it’s certainly true to my experience. Nice to realize it’s not about one big epiphany, isn’t it?
2. Studying hundreds of creatives, Todd observed three common elements in those who produce unique work over the course of time and develop a real audience for what they do. He calls these elements of voice Identity, Vision and Mastery. “You have to be rooted in what you believe or who you are. You have to be fighting battles that are authentically true to you in that sense (that’s Identity). You have to have vision in terms of where you’re taking your work (that’s Vision). Then you have to have a sense of mastery of the skills that you’re going to need in order to introduce it into the world (that’s Mastery).”
3. In the development of our authentic voices, most us of go through an initial phase of emulation – when we are imitating those we admire, whether we realize it or not! This is true even of artists that you’d think of as having incredibly distinct voices, and genius levels of talent. Look back, and you can see they had an emulation phase. We naturally do that as a way to find our own footing.
Then we reach a divergent stage when, according to Todd, “You start to feel a little bit stifled by the container that you’ve built. Often you will feel contempt for your mentors. Anytime something that you’re doing during the divergence phase starts to smack a little bit of somebody who has influenced you, you’ll start to feel a little bit resentful. You’ll try to push away from your mentors and your heroes a little bit because you really want to find your own thing, your own voice. That’s a sign that it’s time to diverge.” This is when we start to really discover and use our authentic voice. I think that if we can all be aware of these emulation and divergent phases in our work, we can move through them more wisely and with much less stress along the way.
4. In the book, Todd also shares this fascinating idea, which he recapitulated in our conversation. “In Greek mythology, the Muses are the figures that inspire works of art and creativity. The genesis of the Muses is that they’re the offspring of Zeus, who is the god of gods, or the god of power, and Mnemosyne, who is the goddess of memory. The idea there is that energy applied to memory leads to creative inspiration. It’s when you apply specific energy to your memories and begin to mine the past in order to gain insight. You begin looking for patterns. That’s where most of our brilliant insights come from.” I (Tara) thought that was so powerful, and it really is true for me. It’s when I’m applying energy, attention, curiosity, and the search for meaning to what is resting in my memory that my original ideas and ways of talking about things come.
5. The 50 Notables is a framework of five powerful questions Todd uses that can help you discover more about your voice and work. Todd says, “Often as we’re pushing through our work, as we’re plowing through our days, going about the busyness of our schedule, it’s easy to lose sight of those little emotional pings, those little things that connect with us in a deep and profound way. I prescribe keeping a running list of things that seem notable to you in some way, that capture your attention, that capture your imagination, and that ping you emotionally.” (For tons of creative inspiration, grab our free download HERE. It’s a worksheet for you to record your 50 Notables, with great prompts from Todd).
Download the audio of our chat HERE