I recently read an article about the rock singer Bono where he talked about the process of finding his voice. Initially, he tried playing guitar, but he did not excel with it. Then someone suggested he sing, but he didn't think he really had a voice and he struggled to know how to do it. However, he gave it a second try and something clicked. He found his voice.
It's hard to imagine a singer who has performed for millions and millions of people not thinking they have a voice and almost panning the idea of pursuing a career in music. However, I understand it because I've seen this phenomenon first hand. In music school we used to sing for each other every week performing the pieces we'd been working on or doing mock auditions for our studio. There would often be a young student who really struggled to sing well. One would wonder how they were ever going to make it as a singer. Lo and behold, a few months later their voice would start to bloom.
So what happened for Bono and my music school colleagues? Why were they able to find their voices? First of all, they stuck with it. When you are struggling with anything it's tempting to give up. You may feel because you failed at your first attempt it means you are not gifted enough to pursue your dream. However, it often just takes a little time and patience to see the results you want. You may already be doing everything right and you are simply in process.
The second thing they did was continue to explore. Bono first tried guitar and then singing. He had to figure out how to make it work. "I had tried before, but I had no voice at all. I remember the day I found I could sing. I said, 'Oh, that's how you do it." (Success Magazine) A lot of people think you can either sing or you can't, but that's not true. Singing is a process of learning to coordinate many internal processes. You have to explore the mechanisms of your body. What happens when I breathe this way? How does my tone change when I focus my sound towards my nose? As you explore, you get information about what works and what doesn't to get the results you want.
Finally, they got feedback. In Bono's case it was from his bandmates who told him he was a lousy guitarist. So he tried something else. In the case of the music students it was from their teacher and their studio mates. They were able to take that information and apply it to tweak their process, refine their instrument and ultimately, blow away their audience.
Whether you are singer or a business owner the same lessons apply. If you have a passion, a desire to share your gifts and be heard by an excited audience, you can't be let fear of failure stop you. You need to keep at your craft, keep learning and exploring and continue to get feedback from your mentors, peers and clients. There have been many stars who did not start out at the head of the pack, but because of their curiosity, their tenacity and their willingness to learn they ended up finding their voice and their success. If you are willing to do the work, you can do it too. When you do, like Bono says "It's a Beautiful Day."