Reference your Own Voice: The Power of Claiming Creative Thought

Reading a book about Leadership is an ironic thing. It is interesting that our culture has so deeply normalized and encouraged looking anywhere, other than within, for guidance and wisdom.

For most of my life, I chose a ‘humble’ approach of referencing literally anything but myself when it came to my creative expression. I remember arriving at Grandmother Kaariina’s retreat and speaking my intention for being there. I looked up when I spoke as if I was letting something else speak through me, as if the clouds could offer me adequate wording and inspired thought. ‘Look to your own womb!’ - the grandmother said… it was one of the first times, a facilitator pointed me inwards rather than upwards and out.

In a way, I believe there is truth to both approaches- looking without and looking within.

So much of the time, we are co-creating what we have to share.

A time that this felt really real to me was when I wrote my book Re-Humanize. These words, which began pouring onto my page, just hours after experiencing rape… were indeed coming from somewhere greater than myself. I know this because I was practically incoherent, catatonic, and severely dissociated at that time. It never made rational sense to me that I was able to write with clarity at that time, when my thoughts were so blurry and jumbled. It has always however… made spiritual sense to me. For a long time, I told people: I am not responsible for writing this book, it came from somewhere beyond myself.

I still believe that this is true and beautiful and miraculous and poetic… AND at the same time: there is immense power in claiming our thoughts, words, and creative genius as OUR OWN.

I would say that this approach of ‘taking no credit’ is an expression of the Divine Feminine (an energy accessible to all beings) at it’s extreme, without the balance of the Divine Masculine (an energy accessible to all beings). I will elaborate on what this means and then I will offer some tools to cultivate a balanced approach of leadership.

Imbalanced approaches to creativity

Excessive Divine Feminine: The example above depicts the behaviour of the Divine Feminine or Yin-energy when it is not balanced by the masculine. When we lean way into our feminine aspect- we discover our capacity to surrender, receive, flow, and let go. This is a passive, graceful, and expansive state of being. Times when we’re likely to see this energy dance through our existence, is when we are engaging in artistic and passionate pursuits. Perhaps through making music, having sex, or writing poetry- we lose our thoughts completely and enter into a sort of trance… a state in which we are receptive to letting creative inspiration flow through us. Language like: ‘I take no credit for writing this book’ is an extreme form of this energy that does not truly honour our vulnerability and humanness. However, to use the term co-creation or to say something like: ‘the inspiration for this book came from somewhere much greater than myself and I’m proud of the way I harnessed that creative spark to birth this concept into reality’ … reflects a more beautiful, balanced approach to claiming our creations.

Excessive Divine Masculine: This complex will be easier to explain than the former, because we see it literally everywhere in our patriarchal culture. Ironically, the behaviour of the Divine Masculine in excess- when it comes to claiming our creations- also denies our own creative power and wisdom. This is the norm which says: people will only listen to you if you validate your ideas with credible, academic, outside-of-yourself sources. This way of thinking completely discredits the voice of the intuition and reinforces the idea that we must look to external authority for all guidance and insight. Such norms render us powerless and co-dependent. The irony of this is quite huge, as we see individuals attempt to emerge as ‘leaders’ WHILE they hide behind the voices of ‘the experts’. The balanced masculine-energy would not solely rely on other voices/references in order to ‘prove’ a point. Rather, he would stand strong in his sovereignty, believing that his thoughts & creations, sourced from his very own centre, are ENOUGH. In balance, fuelled by inspiration rather than lack, he may point towards other sources that have inspired his writing in a way that celebrates INTERDEPENDENCE and village mentality, in which every community members voice is honoured for it’s unique genius.

Key Distinctions for Balanced Leadership

Being Unique vs. Special

I once heard this quote: 0% special, 100% unique. I love this quote and I also hate it, because I want to be special- of course. I also get it… and I also see that what truly makes us special, IS our capacity to be unique. How miraculous is it that over 7 billion of us exist on this planet and no two people are exactly alike? We all come with our own gifts, our own thoughts and creative genius. Our insides swirl as a whirl pool of ancestral wisdom dancing through our DNA and collected knowledge, a blend of knowing, which reflects all that we’ve gathered through our footsteps and connections. If we are constantly hiding behind the voices and quote of others, in order to validate our own thoughts… then we are not honouring the wisdom of our lineage AND we are not valuing the human experiences we’ve had within our lifetime. How about we balance such rigid narratives with this approach: Your experiences make you an expert and your intuition makes you a leader in whatever field you’re inspired to explore.

Citing from Inspiration vs. Lack

I find it disheartening and humorous when I see references like this: “In Unagi Sashimi’s book, she says: Love and connection are things that add great beauty to our lives”… or, “Studies show that empathy makes people feel valued and cared for”. While it is great to have statistics and studies, which give us such grounded, tangible proof that we are not alone in our feelings and life experiences- it is important, to not rely on such external sources in order to validate our lived reality. There is absolutely no problem with citing others. However, it is important to inquire about our intention when we are doing so: Are we citing others because A) Lack: we feel our own voice is not worthy of being heard? Have we given up on the expectation that people should listen to us? Do we value our own voice enough to share its unique delivery and creative genius? OR B) Inspiration: are we citing others because we love the frame in which they poetically packaged their thought? Do we reference others because we are inspired by their unique way of delivering a message and want to support their expression?

Leading with Intuition vs. Copying

One of my favourite mantra’s and belief systems is this: When I honour myself, I serve the collective. This approach to life basically affirms that, when I live my authentic, genuine, unfiltered truth… this will propel the people around me and it will serve the greater collective. I have seen this play out in many different ways. For instance, this honouring of our truth often plays out beautifully in the realm of boundaries. I’ve seen this at times when I’ve cancelled plans due to exhaustion or the need for self-care. Often, I’ve found that when I listen to my intuition and build up the courage to truly voice where I’m at, without hiding behind extravagant excuses.. the person I’m coordinating with often aligns with the need I’ve expressed. They might reply with, ‘ah perfect, I was actually feeling stressed about hanging out today, as I have lots of work to get done. Thank you four honouring yourself’ (Yes, the humans in my life are really this awesome/loving).

One way I am choosing to honour myself in my life RIGHT NOW is through this commitment: I choose to value my unique voice as a leader, rather than copying what I have seen to be successful in others. This approach requires immense trust in my own intuitive guidance and great value for my voice. It comes with greater risk of being judged and criticized. I am choosing to listen to what my gut has to say more than the marketing experts- which means cultivating a thoughtful dance of being loyal to my own inner teacher WHILE still being open to learning.

To me, this approach offers beautiful, powerful, courageous, inspiring leadership because it is VULNERABLE, authentic, and rooted in the realness of this experiential earth walk.

Reference your Own Centre

To reference our own centre offers powerful salve to the version of leadership that patriarchy has deemed legitimate... This depiction is often void of emotion and ripe with long reference lists. I find myself increasingly intrigued and inspired by people’s willingness to show up and share their intimate thoughts, rather than witnessing one’s ability to copy and paste quotes from books they’ve read. To me, a leader is one who naturally inspires, rather than one who strives to impress.

Let us be bold enough to reference our own centres. Let our felt-sensations be recognized as valid sources of ‘proof’. Let us claim the wisdom of life experience and honour our elders. Let us measure our experiences by the number of our heart beats, rather than by the length of our resumes. Let our trust and value for our own inner voice, be the teaching our children so need. Let the reclamation of our right to be SEEN be enough to deem us leaders, experts, role models.

Let us commit to no longer withholding our unique, creative genius from our communities and our world. Believe this: Someone has been waiting a lifetime to hear whatever may be stirring within you right now… go forth and speak that has yet to be said, dance what has yet to be danced, write what has yet to be written, sing what has yet to be sung.

Most of all, love what has yet to be loved.

With gratitude and infinite heart,

Marlee Liss


Ps. Sisters, join our mother-daughter led team on retreat this October! Reclaim your Radiance. CLICK HERE for details

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