Rising Above the Noise

The other day, I went for a walk. I was looking forward to listening to one of my favorite podcasts, Revisionist History with Malcolm Gladwell. The sun was shining, the weather was mild, and I was excited to get away from my work and out into the fresh air.


Very soon, though, I realized my relaxing walk was going to come with frustrations. Thanks to the passing school buses, barking dogs, and leaf blowers, I had to keep rewinding my podcast to catch the parts drowned out by the outside noise. I finally veered from my usual walk and went deeper into the neighborhood to avoid the heavier traffic, and that helped. But that experience got me thinking.


There’s so much talk today about how to make our messages heard “above the noise,” and that’s the main thing I’ve been obsessing about lately when it comes to promoting my new book. People are bombarded by the constant chatter of the internet and social media, the round-the-clock opinions voiced on TV and radio, the barrage of ads promising that certain products will make us feel younger, smarter, prettier, happier, etc. With all that, how is anyone going to learn about my little book?


On the walk, though, I was determined to hear my podcast. Why? Because I love Malcolm Gladwell and the way he thinks. I’m his kind of listener. I’m his audience. So, despite the challenges and frustrations, I stuck with him because his work matters to me.


And I realized that’s what we need to keep in mind. If we try to rise above “the noise,” we are going to struggle. There’s just too much of it out there. But even in a loud room, you can always hear that friend who is whispering in your ear, right? Why? Because what he or she is saying matters.


So, for those of us who have a message or product or service we believe in, we may sometimes need to get off the high-traffic roads and wander around in quieter spaces if we want to hear and be heard. And when we do need to make our way in the loud spaces, rather than adding to the shouting, maybe we should try a heartfelt whisper. It’s bound to be heard by the people who care the most.

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