The Surprising Key to Self-discovery

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Joel Boggess, is a life coach, radio talk show host, and the author of Finding Your Voice. You can follow his shows and updates on Facebook.

Have you ever watched a truly creative chef work in the kitchen? A dash of this, a dollop of that, a pinch of something else… and the next thing you know, you’re biting into a delicious concoction for which no recipe exists.

Chef cooking
Photo Credit: liber via Compfight cc

Occasionally, the cook misses the mark: a cake flops or the sweet and sour sauce turns out a little too sour. In general, though, experimental cooking works out just fine — and sometimes, the combination of flavors blows your mind.

The same approach also works for writing. Unfortunately, rather than experimenting and “taste testing” along the way, many people approach every decision as if life and death hang in the balance. One wrong choice — and BAM! — it’s over.

The pressure to make the right decision becomes so intense that we sometimes choose to do nothing rather than make a wrong decision. But what if you approached life differently?

Experimentation equals liberation

What if you assumed, as a rule, that most things work out in the end — and the things that don’t aren’t the catastrophes you imagine them to be?

What if you chose to see each situation for what it really is: a chance to learn, grow, and develop your voice?

By giving yourself permission to experiment and try on new writing styles — from a perspective, you free yourself from the fear of failure and expectation of measuring up.

It’s okay if your experiment doesn’t work out the way you planned or if it doesn’t follow a nice, neat, sequential order. Original ideas never do. Testing an idea’s merit alongside your own values and principles, and outside of any box, is far more valuable.

Circumstances bring opportunities

For my friend, Deby, she had no choice but to try new things.

Two years ago, Deby’s voice began to tremble. As doctors searched for the cause and a cure, her voice weakened until it one day it was completely gone.

She had been a singer and songwriter her whole life and was just beginning a speaking and coaching career. She needed her voice to survive, financially.

Through her pain and frustration, Deby heard a voice within that told her to paint. So she did.

This is play. This is a discovery.

Her art teacher Dorsey’s instruction to the class was to remain unattached from the work, to be ready to rip it up and use it in another way. This removed all the stress from the learning process — something Deby desperately needed.

At a time when she couldn’t speak, her art served as both a way to express herself and as a source of healing.

Over the next few months, Deby’s voice slowly returned, but hat she’s learned about artistic expression will add value to the lives of those who read, listen to, and experience her work.

Ditch the grading system

Are you willing to give yourself permission to “rip up” your work? Can you experiment without demanding perfection from yourself?

If no one were around to tell you not to, what other topics, events, and ideas would you write about? What would you sing, create, or build? What is your voice trying to tell you that you haven’t tuned into and started writing about?

Your best ideas will most likely come only after you learn to push your own creative envelope and embrace what life throws at you.


  • Experimentation without expectation opens doors of creativity.
  • Blessings are often dressed up as challenges.
  • There is no report card attached to artistic expression.

How has experimentation helped you discover your own voice? Share in the comments.

Did this post resonate with you? Check out Joel’s new book, Finding your Voice (affiliate link), which will help you sort through the clutter and discover clarity, confidence and direction.

Joel and his wife Pei live in DFW area in Texas. With Master’s degrees in counseling and business, plus seven years of experience as a life and career coach, Boggess has the education, life experience, and wisdom to help you tune into and fully express your unique voice.

Hi, I’m Jeff. Can I send you something?

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