The Power of Your Unique Voice

It started eleven years ago…

We stepped into the art gallery because we had a few minutes to spare before seeing a show. It was just down the street, so we weren't worried about being late or anything. And as we walked thru the gallery, I saw art I'd never seen before.

I don't mean a specific painting. I simply mean that I had never seen surreal art before. I didn't even know it was called surreal. I just knew that the art spoke to me in ways that apples in a bowl on the table never had.

The gallery had a lot of different kinds of art in it, but I was drawn to one particular artist because of their surrealism. And that's when I saw a piece of art that would leave a mark in my brain for eleven years.

See, eleven years ago, Melissa and I were spending the first of two weeks on our honeymoon – first in Maui and then in Cabo San Lucas. And because I didn't want to spend all my money in the first week of our honeymoon, I simply took the gallery business card and said I would call them later.

…when I lost the piece of art I wanted.

Over the next two weeks I lost that card. And when we returned home, I realized I didn't know the name of the artist, the painting or the gallery.

But Melissa's mom was dying, so we had more serious things to deal with.

Over the next decade, every couple of years, I would use google to try to find the piece of art again.

I would search for “fanciful” and “clock” “ladder” and “gears” but I wouldn't find what I was looking for. Every couple of years. Over and over. With no clue how to find what I was looking for.

I had another shot last week

Last week I headed to Maui again, with Melissa again, for WordCamp Maui.

We barely landed, and I had picked up the rental car, and started heading back towards our hotel. On the way we stopped for lunch in the same town that we'd visited eleven years before.

I was a man on a mission, stepping into one gallery (the wrong one) and then the next (the right one). I immediately recognized the architecture of the gallery and knew it was the right one.

But Melissa had warned me that there'd be no reason to expect the painting to be on display. I knew she was right, but I hoped I could at least find the artist.

I walked around until I found that style again. I was sure I had found the artist. So we called the gallery staff over.

They brought books of all that artist's work and I paged thru them all – only to be disappointed that I couldn't find the painting I wanted. There were a few that were close. All of the work was the right style (surrealism – a new term I learned last week), but it wasn't this artist.

I explained that I had seen this work 11 years ago. And that's when the gallery staff called over the manager, who heard my story all over again. And he said, “You mean Kush, who used to show things here, but he spun out his own gallery a couple years after you visited. He's right down the road.”

I had a name and a painting!

Because I could articulate the style of the artist, and the core items in the painting, they were able to not only give me the painter's name, but also the name of the piece itself – The Millenium Watchman.

I immediately pulled it up on my phone and confirmed it was the image that had been stuck in my head for over a decade.

Later that week we headed back to Kush's gallery. I asked for it by name, and was pleased to find out I could still order it.

I will have my painting in just a few weeks! 

There's power in your unique voice

I don't know if anyone will want to find a particular blog post I wrote eleven years later. I don't know if someone will search for that “WordPress motivational speaker” or a “WordPress membership” person, or something like that.

But I hope that if they search for me other than by my name, they'll find me. But to do that, I need to keep focusing on developing my own unique voice. Because being another person that writes “the ten WordPress themes for photographers” is going to make it impossible for you to find me in ten years.

And the same is true for you.

Take a corner. Step into your own. There's power in your unique voice.

And it could help someone find you even when you don't know they're looking for you. 

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Chris Lema
Chris Lema has been working with WordPress since 2005. Over the years he's been a blogger, a speaker at WordCamps, a coach for WordPress product companies, and the founder of the conference for WordPress business owners, called CaboPress. Today he's the VP of Products at Liquid Web, where he manages the world's first managed platform for WooCommerce stores.

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