Tyler Williams on sharing your struggles, giving up, and regaining your voice.
Tyler Williams is like all of us. He’s experienced successes and failures, fears and embarrassments, disconnection and love. His new book, I Have A Voice, chronicles his quest to regain his “voice”–his passion and his confidence.
Williams found himself lost and disconnected in his early 20’s. He gave up his NASCAR career when he couldn’t get his car sponsored. His romantic relationship had ended. And an embarrassing performance led him to give up singing. For Williams, giving up his dreams meant losing a piece of himself.
These failures weren’t really what held him back, however. The problem was that when he focused on his failures, he couldn’t see his wholeness. Williams, like so many men, didn’t have a way to connect with others and share his struggles.
“No one does life alone and becomes successful.” – Tyler Williams
Men are often shamed when they do have the courage to say “I screwed up” or “I don’t know how to do this.” So, they carry the burden alone. When you share your struggles, you “release the thing that has power over you,” Williams told me in a recent telephone interview.
We all have painful or scary experiences including abuse, failures, or break ups. When we hold these things captive, they destroy our voices. They cause us to become passive, silent, and just going through the motions without truly living.
Williams points to our culture’s emphasis on achievement as one of the biggest barriers to men feeling comfortable sharing their authentic selves. “We live in an achievement-oriented culture where things are presented to kids as good or bad…Men are conditioned to look for validation from outside themselves – from power, money, titles.”
And when we don’t feel successful, we need connection more than ever, but find it harder than ever to seek out. Technology hasn’t helped us on this front. We don’t have to go to others to ask for help, we just turn to our trusted friend Google for the answer to what ails us or to Instagram for a quick taste of validation.
But nothing can take the place of human connection. “No one does life alone and becomes successful,” Williams said. He believes building a relationship with yourself and with others is the key to success.
If we only let ourselves be seen and heard when we’re perfect, we miss most of life’s opportunities. “When you’re tired and overwhelmed, express that experience,” Williams told me. Williams emphasizes the need for a growth mindset in which we embrace and learn from our mistakes. He found writing, talking to friends and mentors, and counseling were all important parts of his process.
Williams lives by example when he tells us to share our failures and painful experiences. “Vulnerability isn’t weak. It’s power and strength,” he told me. Being your whole, authentic self leads to more passion, more strength.
Williams also reminds us to celebrate the great moments in life. We can maximize our joys by being fully present and savoring our experiences, sharing them with others.
Williams told me he wrote I Have a Voice with teens and young adults in mind, but has found the message resonates just as strongly with men in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s. So many of us are feeling disconnected from ourselves and from others.
Williams is clear that he doesn’t have a quick fix or formula guaranteed to solve your discontent. His own journey through years of intentional self-exploration, led Williams to stop living life from the sidelines.
“The number one thing is loving yourself,” Williams told me in, and “number two is connecting with others.”
Photo: Tyler Williams
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