Insights: Where Does Your Voice Come From? (Na’au)

By Jason Daily

Inevitably, many have a turning point during their time here when they “get it.” They realize that the process isn’t merely leading them to be better communicators. Rather, if they allow it to, it guides them to become better leaders. They see beyond tips and tricks and embrace true and lasting behavioral change. And we instructors are the fortunate observers of these changes. It never gets old. Here’s a recent example:

While working with a client, I learned something new this week…he taught me a new way to think about the voice. In particular, I was working to help him get greater breath support in order to project his voice out into the room. The intended affect was increased richness and warmth in his tone of voice, vocal variety and expression, all leading to a greater impression of confidence and leadership. For two days, I was encouraging and pushing him to stretch beyond his comfort zone, to take the risk of putting too much of his being out into the room…all for the sake of catching it on camera, getting some feedback and showing him that he could speak more powerfully without being seen in a negative light…as aggressive, obnoxious, or over the top with his voice.

In one moment, I saw his expression change and I could tell that he was having a realization. And then he shared something deeply insightful and powerful for him. In Hawaiian culture, speaking from the “gut” is a term called “na’au.” This is the way leaders and the wisest people in their culture speak. It is known that when something speaks from their gut, they are learned, experienced, seasoned, respected. These people are often referred to as the “Big Kahunas.” (You may have heard of the term). But it was relevant for him and it was precisely this realization that helped my client embrace his own power, authority and his right to be there.

I called it greater breath support leading to projection. He called it na’au. And I’ll never forget that term. I’m glad I have a story to tell about how “teachers” can learn from their “students” at any time. Thank you, Jim.

Because each of us have a right to speak up, to use our voice and use our “na’au.” What’s holding you back?