How to Solve Almost Any Problem (Hopefully)

I’ve had my share of pain and setbacks. I’ve experienced a catastrophic business failure. I’ve been fired by clients. I’ve struggled in my marriage. I’ve had children with chronic and debilitating diseases. And I’ve had my own health crises.

A 5-Part Recipe for Solving Almost Any Problem

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Fortunately, right now things are going well (knock on wood). But I do struggle with one nagging problem I have yet to resolve. It’s dogged me for five years. Just when I think it’s gone, it slips out of the shadows and bites me.

The problem is my voice.

I have always had a decent voice. In fact, one of my first jobs was as a DJ on a local FM radio station. I was the guy who announced, “That was ‘Appalachian Spring’ by Aaron Copland and the London Symphony Orchestra.”

For most of my life, I took my voice for granted. I sang in the choir. I spoke publicly. I recorded a number of audio programs. I always felt it was an asset.

But this all changed overnight. I can still remember the day it happened—September 15th, 2008. This was the very day Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. I was the CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers at the time.

I was in New York City to meet with a group of bankers who held our debt. Our sales had fallen precipitously in the previous three quarters. (This was in the beginning of what would eventually be known as the Great Recession.) Understandably, they wanted to know why. They also wanted to know what we intended to do about it.

I told my wife, Gail, it was like being called to the principal’s office, only to discover there were twenty principals waiting. It was stressful to say the least.

Actually, the meeting went well. My team and I were prepared. We had credible reasons for our poor performance and a plan for correcting it. The bankers were respectful and asked thoughtful questions.

I tried to sound confident, but I was afraid.

I was worried about the economy, troubled about the future of publishing, and concerned about what this all might mean for the company I was leading. I was also very much aware my job was on the line.

During the meeting, my voice cracked several times. This surprised—and embarrassed—me, but I just assumed I was getting a cold. Maybe all this stress has compromised my immune system, I thought.

But it didn’t get better. The problem would disappear for weeks and then suddenly, out of the blue, strike. I would all but lose my voice.

Finally, in desperation, I went to the Vanderbilt Voice Center. (This is one of the benefits of living in Nashville, where we have so many singers.) They ran me through a battery of tests, including a stroboscopic exam that took digital images of my vocal folds.

The result? Nothing. Everything looked normal.

The doctor suggested I might want to signup for some sessions with a voice therapist. I declined.

This is stupid, I thought. If this is all in my head, I can solve the problem myself. I’ll just use some relaxation techniques and think happy thoughts.

Well, that didn’t work either. Over the last four-and-a-half years, the problem has persisted. Thankfully, it doesn’t usually afflict me when I speak publicly, though it does sometimes show up when I record my podcast, do interviews, or sing in church.

Finally, this last week I decided I had had enough. I was ready to solve the problem. I decided on a five-pronged approach:

  1. Pray about it. As a person of faith, this is where it starts for me. I am specifically asking God to heal my voice. Unfortunately, for many people, this is where it starts and stops. While this is necessary, it usually isn’t sufficient.
  2. Educate myself. I decided I would relearn the basics of vocal physiology. I bought a course by Roger Love, one of the world’s leading vocal coaches. It is called, “The Perfect Voice.” I have listened to it once through and am now listening a second time.
  3. Think positively. Our thoughts have a huge impact on our experience—good and bad. As I began to analyze my thinking about my vocal problems, I realized my inner Narrator was telling me a bad story. I wrested back control and am now telling myself a better one.

    Specifically, I am repeating these affirmations several times a day:

    • My voice is strong.
    • My voice is resonate.
    • My voice is clear.
  4. Take action. This is where the rubber meets the road. Roger Love includes a fifteen-minute vocal warm-up in his Perfect Voice program. I put it on my iPhone and have now made it a part of my morning routine. It is specifically designed to strengthen one’s voice over time.
  5. Seek outside help. I haven’t taken this step yet—at least not to the level I am willing to go. If the four steps above don’t solve my vocal problem in the next six weeks, I am going back to the Vanderbilt Voice Center and get professional help.

As I was thinking through this issue, I thought this is really the recipe for solving any problem in life. I know it is ridiculously obvious, but I am amazed how many people are stuck (like I was) and don’t know what else they can do.

Whether you want to lose weight, improve your marriage, heal your body, find a job, or get a promotion, this five-part approach provides a way to make it happen.

Question: What problem do you have that might benefit from this five-fold approach? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Trevor Wilson

    The voice is a funny thing. Our voices are naturally strong and resonant, but they are so easily affected by our thoughts and feelings. Any sort of mental block you have can show up as a block in your voice.

    For me, when I’m nervous my voice definitely rises in pitch. I tend to become more nasally. It drives me crazy. But the opposite is also true . . . when I’m feeling confident and on top of my game, my voice reflects that as it becomes deep and powerful.

    I’ve been fascinated by voice for many years. It’s such an important part of who we are, but most people take it for granted, never giving a thought to how their voice presents them to the world . . . until they lose it.

    I wish you luck in overcoming this.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Trevor. I notice that when I prepare, especially mentally, things go much better. Perhaps this is why I never really experience the problem in my public speaking. I go through a rigorous preparation process before stepping up on stage. Thanks.

  • Neel Raman

    Thanks for this post Michael! For a speaker, their voice is their most important asset and I like how you have committed to a plan to improve your voice. Roger Love is the man!! Just wondering how different his “The Perfect Voice” program is to his other programs such as “Vocal Power” and “Set Your Voice Free”…

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am not sure. I can’t even remember how I found Roger. The program really is dynamite.

  • Cyberquill

    Anytime I feel I’m about to lose my voice, I imagine a big scary-looking snake, and then the frog in my throat gets scared and runs away.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Does the frog run away or is the scream bigger than the frog?

      • Cyberquill

        The frog doesn’t scream. He just croaks a few unintelligible French curse words as he skips off.

  • Micki

    So ironic that in the time you “lost your voice”, your voice has made a difference to so many others! I am so sorry that you are having these problems, but, reassured that you help so many people, including me, with the voice that you do have each and every day.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Micki. I had not correlated that. It’s interesting to contemplate.

  • Jeremy Hamilton

    In terms of practical solutions – have you tried Alexander Technique?

    • Michael Hyatt

      No, I haven’t. However, I just Googled it and found the website . I have bookmarked it to read this weekend. Thanks for the suggestion.

  • Jim Donovan

    Great post Michael. One of the things that my coaching instincts surfaced, when I read it was, have you considered asking yourself a question like, “What am I not voicing in my life?” Louise Hay did a lot of work around the body mind connection. Just a thought. Wishing you well.

    • Kim Hall

      A most interesting thought, Jim!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Very interesting point, Jim. I just listened to one of Louise’s DVD’s a couple of weeks ago with my daughter. You have asked a very powerful question. I plan to think about this some more and see what insights I might glean.

  • lhoenigsberg

    Hi Michael. I am sorry you are going through this. Your steps reminded me of something I went through this past week. I attended my very first writers conference. I was nervous going in, but felt strong in my ability as a writer. I did not know one other soul there, which ended up being exactly what God wanted. I had no “outside” voices to confuse me. As I went through all the highs and lows I took steps to make sure I didn’t get overwhelmed in negative thoughts. At times, my feelings were hurt or I felt insecure or unappreciated. I would then take a walk or go back to my room and 1. Pray about it. 2. Think about what I had learned. 3. Think positively. 4. If I wasn’t sure I had heard the truth I would take action and go to a professional for help. I have never learned so much about myself in such a short period of time as I did last week. I think these action steps can work in any situation!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Glad to hear this! I’ve been thinking about you and hoping you had a great experience. Writers conferences can feel a bit like a roller coaster, but the learning potential is huge.

      • lhoenigsberg

        Thanks Michele! I learned so much, and ended up being glad I didn’t know anyone. it was exactly like a roller coaster! LOL. Found out that I’m not famous enough to write a memoir…LOL. But I walked away wanting to go back next year. Very inspiring!

        • Michele Cushatt

          Wonderful. Well done!

  • Cynthia Herron

    Michael, you were phenomenal at ACFW last year and I was tremendously blessed. You continue to inspire. Thank you for your transparency this morning.
    Prayers for your health and mindset!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Cynthia. I appreciate that.

  • Julia Papworth

    Jim Donovan has made a good point below…. what is it that you are not voicing? Louise Hay’s work is excellent for this. If you are unsure you might need a variety of ‘tools’ to uncover it, this could be EFT (tapping) or NLP Alignment work is good for finding the underlying belief you may have. The positive affirmations, prayer etc will all compliment that. Before you have to go for another ‘voice breaking meeting’ you could try Bach Flower Remedies for 2 weeks, there are 38 so you would have to work out which one you need. I use all these with my clients.

  • Kim Hall

    I think many of us suffer from not knowing how we sound until we run an audio or video of ourselves, unfortunately. Having a clear signal, however, such as a breaking voice, or actually losing our voice for a while, might move us more quickly to action. Hopefully you will have given your readers the impetus to really learn how they sound to others, in addition to providing this wonderfully simple five part plan.

    Thanks for the plan and the vocal resource!

    • Joe Lalonde

      Another thing Michael’s post will do is encourage others to seek help. Many people put additional training or coaching off until it’s too late. Michael admitting to needing the help and getting a coach can be that catalyst.

  • InvisibleSun

    I admire your honesty and vulnerability in this post, Michael. Reminds me of my heart palpitations (and almost-fainting incident) while speaking to a group. I think your five-pronged approach sounds great, but just thought I’d share a couple of thoughts that came to mind …

    1) Think back to the specific times this has happened and whether or not there were common variables. Were all of the incidents during times you were somewhat nervous?

    2) I’ve been learning a lot about the subconscious mind and it is very much connected to our body’s health. Apparently, there are ways to heal ourselves by reprogramming our subconscious mind. One book I highly suggest is “The Power of Your Subconscious Mind” by Joseph Murphy.

    3) Finally, envision yourself with a clear, strong voice. Direct your thoughts to the end result you want. Be careful about focusing too much on your voice cracking because you will only amplify that result. All the best! ~Ellie

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Ellie. I agree with you—especially your last point. I really believe on focusing on what you want rather than what you don’t want.

  • Bob Wright

    Thank you for sharing this! These steps could be applied in some key decisions I must make in my business and personal life in the coming days.

    Just said a prayer for you Michael! Thank you for using your voice often and sharing it with us.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, for the prayer, Bob.

  • Tracy L

    Great post. I’ve recently been struggling with a specific issue and I have gone to a life coach which is really helping me. I sometimes have difficulty in making decisions so one thing she has taught me is to look to my physical body to understand my emotions. In stressful situations my brain gets foggy so I can’t think clearly. So if I look to my physical body, it helps me know what I am feeling which then helps me clear my head and make good decisions (it’s been proven we feel our emotions in various parts of the body). This leads me to wonder if your situation is not just physical, but might have an emotional component to it? Especially since it started in the most stressful of situations. Just a thought. I always love your blog and wish you well in your healing!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Interesting thought. Lately I’ve become more and more intrigued by the connection between emotions/stress and physical symptoms. I think there’s far more here than we even realize.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Tracy. No doubt there’s an emotional component as well. That’s one of the reasons I am working on my thinking. Thanks.

  • Phyllis

    We as humans often resist getting professional help. We mull possible solutions in our heads for far too long and precious time goes by. We need to seek help much sooner than later, and when we do, we connect with professionals who give way more than help for just one problem. They give us their valuable perspective on other issues as well. So, stop wrestling and agonizing over issues. Humble yourselves, open your mind, and learn from others. You’ll be amazed at the inspiration and hope you receive from that connection that you make. Then…pass it on to others.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Funny how that works Phyllis. There are areas I know I need help and yet refuse to get it. Thankfully there are people like Michael showing us even successful people need and, more importantly, get help.

  • Patricia Zell

    Thanks, Michael, for a timely post. My biggest problem right now is my need to sell my house because I am retiring from teaching. As I was reading your post, I realized my biggest problem in selling my house is my negative thoughts–I have many “reasons” my house won’t sell and very few reasons that it will. So, I’m talking to God about realigning my thoughts. And, even though I was planning to sell it myself, I’m going to take your advice (and my son’s) and enlist professional help. God has been so faithful in working things out for me since my husband’s passing–why should I doubt His ability at this point? Blessings…

    • Michael Hyatt

      Good for you, Patricia. This sounds like a good plan.

  • KukuduKoo

    Don’t fight the problem. Embrace it. That’s always the first step.

  • Antone Goyak

    Tough situation Michael – that has got to be difficult to have to go through with your speaking so much. I am sorry to hear of this going on. You mentioned you were a person of faith…I would also encourage you with this: II Corinthians 12:9 reminds of what God said to Paul – “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”

    All these things we go through simply remind us of our dependency and that is a good thing in this life. Thanks for the five steps you shared today.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Amen. Thanks.

  • Adam Rico

    Thanks so much for sharing this Michael. It can be difficult to ask for help when we have two characteristics. 1) Being a man in western culture and 2) having the condition of goitaloneism.

    Western culture tells men we have to be John Wayne and be tough. Asking for help is a sign of weakness. Goitaloneism is the result of that societal pressure.

    I have to really watch out for both of these influences.

    Your post really reminded me that if we’re going to accomplish our goals we’re going to need the help of others. Thanks for being such a great example to us all.

  • Daniel

    This was one of my favorite posts. Thank you for being open and transparent. I needed this post this week. I’m looking for a college teaching job and needed direction. I was paralyzed in the “Think Positively” part and “Take Action.” I will now try to improve my thinking and take meaningful steps toward my goal. Wonderful job again

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Daniel. All the best to you on your journey.

  • Esther Aspling

    I have fibromyalgia, and at times I can forget to really think ahead about it.

    I can get caught up in the excitement of events and think, “I can totally do everything that everyone else it doing.” Then, after I’ve put my body through the ringer just to fit in, I crash. Hard. It takes me a while to climb back out of that exhaustion, sometimes several weeks. I need to be more intentional at seeing my limitations and knowing that God knows what I can and can’t do, and listen to Him about what is important.

  • John Richardson

    Great post, Michael. I suffer from voice problems too. I tend to be soft spoken, and as a public speaker, I have a hard time projecting. I find that if I concentrate on the back row of the audience and speak to them I usually do better, but my number one comment is that people have a hard time hearing me.

    I went to a voice coach a while back and she taught me some breathing exercises. This helped somewhat, but when I speak loud enough to be heard, it sounds like I’m screaming in my head.

    I have a speech contest coming up this weekend, and in practicing for it, I’ve installed a decibel meter on my iPad and put it across the room from me. This allows me to see how I’m projecting. Hopefully, with enough practice, I’ll be able to reach the judges who usually sit in the back row.

    In some venues the contest will provide a microphone, but if not, I’ll at least be prepared. I’ll have my wife sit in the back row and have her signal me if she can’t hear me.

    • Aaron Johnson

      Best wishes at the contest this weekend, John. What’s the topic?

      • John Richardson

        I had a good contest Aaron. My speech title was “The Silver Box,” a story about the legacy we leave when we die. I ended up coming in third, and a couple of people who were sitting in the back said they had a hard time hearing me. My wife, who was sitting in the second row, had no trouble hearing me at all. My voice just doesn’t travel well. Unfortunately, it seems like the judges always sit in the back. I’m going to use the speech as a basis of a video for my blog, It has a powerful visual component so it hopefully will make a strong emotional impact.

        • Aaron Johnson

          Nice work, John! I’ll check for the video. I seem to have been blessed with the opposite problem. The most frequent admonishment I got as a kid was “Aaron, you need to keep it down; your voice carries!” :) I do a lot of audio and video editing, and you can see it in the waveforms when people have voices that carry; they are more full, but not necessarily loud. It’s kind of strange.

          Best wishes as you continue with your speaking, John.

  • Mary James

    Interesting post. As a singer and speaker, oddly I have had some similar struggles. There are a few things that have come into play that you may wish to consider……Allergies. Hydration. Reflux, which is enhanced by diet (some foods must be avoided) and Nerves. If you have any of first three issues, a subtle case of nerves can enhance the problem. God has helped me with the nerves, but I have learned through an ENT Specialist how to manage the other challenges with my voice.

  • Connie Almony

    Wow! It’s amazing how this topic keeps coming up in my
    reading over the past several weeks. I had just read The Well: Why Are So Many
    Still Thirsty, by Mark Hall of Casting Crowns, and how God used a time in his
    life when he couldn’t sing to remind him of his purpose for singing. I was so
    moved by the story I wrote a blog article about how it happened to me … and I
    didn’t learn from it. I have now. The very next week I read about how the Christian
    Band, Audio Adrenaline, disbanded after their lead singer, Mark Stuart, lost
    his voice. Since then, Mark Stuart has focused on a mission he and Will
    McGinnis created for orphans in Haiti, The Hands and Feet Project. The band has
    now reformed with a new lead singer, to help fund this project. Though Mark
    Stuart is no longer the front man, he’s been instrumental in putting it
    together and writing songs. Sometimes God has something to show us, and the
    best way to do that is to remove the thing that takes our focus. When giving
    Paul revelations, he was blinded. God temporarily took away his ability to rely
    on the written word—the law. That’s where the prayer—and quiet time—will help.

    I’ve heard about other speakers who’ve lost their voices due
    to nerve-conduction issues. One gained it back while struggling to speak at an
    event he’d been scheduled for one year in advance. While coming to the part
    about God taking us from the pit, his voice miraculously was healed. Still, I
    can’t help but wonder if Omega-3 fatty acids would help this one also :o).

    I believe I read muscle contractions are the cause of Mr.
    Stuart’s vocal issues. Possibly due to unregulated calcium in his system. I
    wonder if he’d benefit from supplements that help regulate calcium (ie. Vitamin
    D3, Vitamin K2 and Magnesium).

    Your plan sounds like a good one. Very similar to what I’ve
    used as a mother of a wonderful young man with autism. That’s where I learned
    about fatty acids and unregulated calcium ;o).

    God bless you on your journey. I will pray for you also.

  • Dr. Brian J. Dixon

    Thanks for sharing this. Roger Love is the best.

  • Pingback: How to Solve Almost Any Problem (Hopefully) | Pastor Leaders()

  • Jen McDonough “The Iron Jen”

    Have to jump in to say I enjoy your posts so much. The authentic, real life good stuff you dig into is just awesome.
    Although you didn’t ask, I would add two more things to your list – understanding your why and attaching goals to your action items.
    Keep Living Beyond Awesome!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Awesome reminder, Jen. Thanks!

  • Michael Ray Hopkin

    Michael, great post! Two things caught my attention: the first was your story. I could picture myself sitting in the meetings and I could feel the pressure you surely felt. Your story makes it easy to apply your approach to my life.

    The second was your parenthetical “hopefully.” That spoke to me about the need for hope when solving problems. Hope — like faith — is an action verb. It’s believing that God will bless us with what we are seeking. It’s manifest through confidence, optimism and enthusiasm. It is believing and expecting that we can solve the problem. I’m not sure if that was your intent, but it rang true to me.

    Thank you for sharing,

    – Michael

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Michael. I added “hopefully” because I thought, I haven’t solved this problem yet. Blessings.

  • Monica James

    Michael, You were courageous to share that post. Thank you. As a public speaking and interview skills coach, I attempt to keep up to date on this subject. I am including this link to a New York Times article about the voice as we age. Note the word “We.”
    This is in no way intended to discourage you from your efforts. You are so wise to do everything you can to keep your voice as strong as possible. (and so kind to share with us your efforts in identifying a problem and creating a plan to solve it). I just wanted to share the concept that just like every other part of us, the voice does change with age. More importantly, I wanted to say that given what a well respected person you are, your audiences will likely not be impacted by this impediment. It is your content, experience and authenticity that they will focus on.

    • Jim Martin

      Monica, thank you for this reminder (regarding voice and age) and for including this link. Thanks so much.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this article, Monica. I appreciate it.

  • Justin Buck

    The most powerful item, in my opinion, is positive thinking. Believing in yourself multiplies the effect of other action steps and creates confidence– even when you have none!

  • Beth Ann

    Voice Teacher here! I am so encouraged when people come to the realization that their voice “matters,” although I always hope this awareness does not have to arrive via a voice difficulty! Sounds like you’ve taken some steps to vocal health and already understand that its the mind that tells those vocal folds, which we cannot feel by the way (no pain receptors), what to do. The regular vocalizations are key, as well. May I suggest that you spend a little time to evaluate both your breathing and any muscular tension and holding you may have in your neck and shoulders? I don’t just mean while speaking and singing, but throughout the day. Most of us breath “backwards.” I often have to place my students on the floor to allow them to release the muscles in the torso and fill with air like they did when they were babies. Secondly, we often try to “control” the sound when we don’t trust it by using the muscles around the folds as a “girdle.” Letting go and breathing deep yields big dividends in our overall well-being, not just our voices!

    • Michele Cushatt

      Great advice here, Beth Ann. Thank you.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for this, Beth Ann. Very, very helpful.

  • Kent sanders

    Michael, thanks for your honestly. This is a great post and a helpful reminder that we don’t have to freak out when problems arise–we need to take a systematic approach. Thank you!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Kent. I appreciate that.

  • Vincent Nguyen

    Seeking outside help is the key, or at least that’s been my experience. There are so many people who know SO many more things on the very topic that you need help with. They are there, ready to help, but people fear looking for guidance. They think it makes them seem weak or that others would be bothered. I’ve found that neither are true.

    • Michael Hyatt

      So true, Vincent. With the Internet, finding that help is easier than ever. Thanks.

  • Marlene Bierworth

    Great post. Glad to see i am not the only one with this cracking voice problem. Mine only happens in the middle of a great song – crack, then nothing. It is embarrassing for sure.

  • Cathee Poulsen

    Michael – I LOVE listening to you. I used to dread my morning walk but since I started listening to podcasts, I can’t wait to get out there every day. Yours is, by far, my favorite. I’ve learned more from you over the past 8 months than from any other source I can think of. And never once did I think “This guy has a voice problem!”

    • Michele Cushatt

      What a nice compliment. I’m just curious, Cathee … is there one podcast that’s been a favorite?

    • Michael Hyatt

      Wow. Thanks, Cathee. I so appreciate your encouragement! Blessings.

  • Trevor

    This is a great post, and something we should all keep in mind. I’m planning in applying this approach to a couple of things – sleep, and social skills/networking. I can’t believe you were able to write something so practical in such a short post!

    • Jim Martin

      Trevor, I also thought this was a particularly practical and helpful post.

  • Traci

    I love that you start with prayer and continue from there…a reminder that we need to do our part. sometimes I skip prayer and try to do it all on my own. Also a lack of the perfect combination to make progress. thank you for this share today!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Traci. It so important. The older I get, the more I appreciate prayer and see it’s importance.

  • Joseph Foley

    Great blog post. This blog post gave some idea to solve some issue in my life. Thank you michael.

  • Josh Collins

    You know what I love most about this post Michael? Your authentic vulnerability. Its pretty obvious to see from a far, that you’ve got it together, The Father has blessed you richly, your “path is straight” and that AWESOME! But for you to offer a piece of yourself that you consider not all together is by far one of the best things I have ever read from you, and I digest it all!

    Funny though that your topic today and mine would be so similar in theme. I posted a review of one your chapters from Platform, talking about our voices! Great stuff, keep it up and Thank You, you’re being used in ways you do not even see, hear, or know!

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Josh. I really appreciate that encouraging word.

  • Mary DeMuth

    Thanks for sharing your story here and your five pronged approach. I admire that about you. :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Mary. The real benefit of this is that I have gotten some terrific advice from people, including a call today from Andy Andrews. He faced the same thing several years ago.

  • Steve Martin

    The only problem that I really haven’t found a solution to is…death.

    But on this Good Friday, I do have a message (for you) that has solved the problem…even aside from our wanting it:

    A blessed, problem-solving Good Friday to you all!

  • Mark Hertzler

    Did you really say that prayer “usually isn’t sufficient”? God is all sufficient. Yes I agree that many times prayer results in God calling us to action but if you view prayer as just one item on a checklist you are missing the point. Praying is everything. It puts our hearts in the proper place to be open to whatever God’s answer is. His answer may be that this affliction is exactly what you need. If you say a little prayer and then jump into trying to solve the problem yourself you could be setting yourself up for serious frustration. You can’t work around God’s will. Having said all this I would pray that your voice does get better but more importantly I would pray that you understand and accept God’s provision in your life.

    • Jim Martin

      Mark, you make some good points regarding prayer. However, I did not read Michael’s remarks as minimizing the power or necessity of prayer. In fact, this is the first thing he did. What I understood him to be saying is that one doesn’t necessarily pray about a problem like this and passively wait for something to happen. I think of times when I have been sick and definitely prayed about my sickness. Then, I went to our medical doctor the next day. Whatever was helpful in recovering from this sickness, I received as a gift from God’s gracious provision – an answer to prayer.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, I actually did say that. However, I think you are confusing two things.
      While I did say prayer is not sufficient in itself, I did not say God isn’t sufficient. I am not talking about who God is, but how He generally works. Can good heal me without me doing another thing? Absolutely. I acknowledge that He is all-powerful and sovereign. He can do whatever He wishes any time He wishes.
      But He usually works through means. Do you go to a physician when you are sick in addition to praying? I’ll bet so. Do you go to work after praying that God would supply your needs. I hope so.
      Faith and works are not at odds with one another. Usually, it is both/and. Thanks.

      • Mark Hertzler

        I understand your intent and it seems as though most of your readers do as well. My only concern is that when you say prayer usually isn’t sufficient and then list actions to take you may be giving people with an affliction the wrong idea. Instead of using prayer to understand God’s will they may be tempted to just try harder.

  • Cherry Odelberg

    I am delighted with this five step approach and have many challenges I can use it on!

    (Regarding voice in particular; as a classroom music teacher and church ensemble singer, I seemed to loose my voice at the worst of times. Once I walked into a classroom with a scented candle burning and choked. Allergies. Stress is also a culprit. Bottom line for me is stay away from allergens, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, and relax, relax, relax – oh, and peppermint tea is good:))

    • Michael Hyatt

      Yes, my good friend, Andy Andrews, a world-class speaker, just told me to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

  • John Melley

    Hi Michael,
    I liked your post. I’m a voice actor and production guy. It sounds like you’re doing a lot of the right things to conquer this.

    It also sounds like the vocal equivalent of the Golfer’s “yips.” I recently read a book on neuroplasticity that goes in depth on this particular situation. TItle = “The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better.”

    It’s a fascinating read and you might glean a better understanding of what MIGHT be going on.

    By the way, as a professional voice talent and producer I think you have a fine voice. I enjoy your podcast quite a bit. In fact, you, as well as some of my podcasting clients that I’ve produced intros and outros for (You’d know them) have inspired me to start my own.

    Thank you for sharing your information – and voice – with us.

    John Melley

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, John. I appreciate your encouragement and the suggestion of the book.

  • Janine Joi

    Hi. I thought I had better educate myself as to who you are. So this is my first read.
    I laughed when the person said ‘did you really say prayer isn’t sufficient’? I had to go back and look. Yes, you did. I took it as you meant it. That we often need to put feet to our faith and step out and do something. I switched it in my mind to that when I read it. Subconsciously. I didn’t realize it til I went back to see if you said that.

    I see also where that writer was coming from. Yes. God is ALL sufficient and does mighty things through and with our prayers. However our prayers are not always all sufficient. Hence, the requirement to put our faith with our prayers to make an action.

    To me, your 5 step plan is good when it’s a problem that one can take action ON. There are some problems that don’t fall under that heading.

    • Jim Martin

      Thanks Janine for this comment. Glad you are reading Michael’s blog. I hope you will comment again. Thanks.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Janine. Welcome!

      I was really thinking of the biblical examples like when Elisa tells Naaman to go wash himself in the Jordan river seven times and he will be healed (2 Kings 5).

  • Micah Scharchburg

    Michael, praying for your voice. May it be completely restored like Zechariah’s! Luke 2:62-80
    Thankful for you.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Micah. I appreciate that.

  • Pitagoras Goncalves

    I am a college piano teacher. I expand your #4 step by assigning the students what I call a filtering system: the objective is to get clean water (A song performed well) by fixing things from basic concepts to more complex. In music, the most basic concept is to know the notes (which involves understanding of the technique, like in your 2nd step), then the rhythm, then dynamics, articulation, balance, tone, style…all at once and with their best knowledge of the refered concepts. Don’t clog the filter, I say.

  • Jim Hamlett

    Couldn’t agree more with No. 1. For me, that’s where it has to start (and continue). Before taking up flying, I spent 14 years in live theater work where the voice is all-important. I’m sure the folks at Vanderbilt will explain the importance of breathing and supporting your voice with your diaphragm. Before you spend any time with them, if you just want to bounce a few questions off someone, I’ll be happy to help where I can.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jim. Roger Love spends a tremendous amount of time on breathing, which is hugely helpful.

  • Richard Thomas

    Hi Michael, Great Post. I’ve alwas been fascinated by the voice and have been increasingly challenged by as a Pastor with cancer in the throat. I can’t recommend the book ‘The Right to Speak’ by Patsy Rodenburg highly enough. Like so many things our voice is about so much more.

    • Jim Martin

      Thank you Richard for this recommendation. I just looked up this book and it looks very interesting.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I just added the book to my Amazon wish list.

  • kimanzi constable

    Great timing of this post Michael. After getting back from speaking in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago I noticed some weird things going on with my face. To make a long story short I have Bell’s Palsy, the entire left side of my face is paralyzed. I went through all the emotions you probably have gone through and now I have decided to take action as well. These steps will definitely help. I speak again in April so I’m praying it heals by then, if not I’ll do the best I can.

    • Jim Martin

      Kimanzi, so sorry to hear that you have Bell’s Palsy. I have known several people who have dealt with that and it can be very frightening. I wish you the very best as you continue to address this issue.

      • kimanzi constable

        Thanks so much Jim

    • Michael Hyatt

      I am so sorry, Kimanzi. I hope these steps help you. You might also want to seek a Bell’s Palsy specialist. Best.

      • kimanzi constable

        Thanks Michael, I am.

    • mom2luke

      kimanzi, it is very important that you take care of yourself so that your case will be mild. lots of rest, avoid wheat and dairy, good nutrition (soup of superfoods), water, anti-inflamatory foods (pineapple, veggies) doctors may recommend steroids/eye patch if your eye won’t close, you need to protect it… but do your research first. Hopefully your case will be mild…and a positive attitude helps with that. best of luck.

      • kimanzi constable

        I will take these tips and put them into practice, thank you.

  • Bernard Hall

    Michael, love your emails – read everyone of them.
    Have you ever considered:
    1) That you give everything associated with the problem (mental, emotional and practical issues) unconditionally over to God to resolve & heal – including all your own limited preconceived/expectations/wishes for the outcome. Rather than praying for your own solution?

    2) That the problem, as it often is, manifesting as a metaphor for a deeper spiritual/psychological issue – such as: Fear of the power of your voice, Fear of speaking up, Fear – or ambivalence – of being heard or speaking the truth. It kind of goes with the territory of teaching people what you’re teaching. After all we teach people what we – ourselves – most need to learn/heal within ourselves. And from personal experience all healing comes from letting go of fear.

    Just some suggestions :)

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Bernard. Great input. I appreciate it.

  • Marie

    Hi Michael, really enjoy your blogs. I suggest you use acupuncture for your voice. Find a Chinese medicine practitioner who has treated this before, I am an acupuncturist and have treated many patients with miscellaneous voice problems, especially when there is nothing “physically or structurally” wrong. Thanks again for the great blogs and interesting topics.

  • Joe Lalonde

    I could use this to approach my public speaking fear. Through prayer, practice, knowledge, and coaching I’m sure I could pretty much nip this in the bud. And while I want to do it, it’s not a big enough pain for me yet.

  • Dr. LaVigne

    LOVE THIS!!!! As a single mother with a PhD who is PROFOUNDLY underemployed, I am brutally aware that I cannot “give myself” a good job: I can pray and BELIEVE that God is working on my behalf and try to rest in that. And I can be DILIGENT about the work I must do: networking, applying for jobs, even the ones that don’t seem to be a perfect fit, asking friends if they know of any openings. Our God is not a God of passivity, but a God of ACTION and we are so fortunate to be able to co-labor with him in the creation of our lives!!!

    • Tom Dixon

      Out of curiosity, what is your PhD in? What do you think is stopping you from using it to do work you love?

      • Dr. LaVigne

        Hi Tom,
        PhD in Literature and Creative Writing (2011). I am an adjunct professor (underpaid+no benefits+high level of responsibility) at the moment. Trying to figure out how to write a book based on a Spiritual Journaling workshop that I teach, start a non-profit for older kids in foster care, adopt again out of the foster care system :), and put food on the table. Maybe I’m too much of a dreamer???

        • Michael Hyatt

          You’re definitely not too much of a dreamer. Dreams are what fuel transformation and the movement of history. Pursue it!

  • Anonymous

    Normally I enjoy your posts quite a bit, but this one just has me shaking my head. As someone who has had to live on my own with a debilitating illness for the past thirteen years that has basically had me bedridden for the last 4 years, all I could think is, “That’s your worst problem? Seriously?” Now, let’s take away your health, your marriage, your children, your money and your ability to make more money and watch you put your 5 steps into action. I doubt your solution would be so simplistic then. If you don’t have a clue what real hardship is, then why should I listen to your advice?

    • Michael Hyatt

      I’m so sorry for your pain.

      Though life is good at the moment, I am no stranger to pain, I have had severe financial setbacks. I have two daughters with chronic, debilitating illnesses (Crohn’s disease). I have two special needs grandchildren.
      Regardless, I think the steps still apply. Perhaps they won’t work for you. (That’s why I used the word “Almost” in the title.) While the steps are simple, the application can run deep.
      Are their additional steps you would suggest?

      • mom2luke

        I agree with anonymous, your message would have resonated better had you first mentioned some of your other trials instead of (or at least in addition to ) your happy marriage and finances to avoid the immediate reaction (that I also had) of, “well, if that’s your biggest problem, you couldn’t possibly understand my ongoing/chronic conditions to which there are no simple 5-step solutions or approaches.”

        I’m not saying your “approaches” are incorrect or not valuable/wise, but better to acknowledge some “problems” are unsolvable–we can only hope to improve our coping skills and support systems.

        I recommend you have one of your daughters with Crohn’s and a special needs child (a “child” who will grow into a special needs man needing her for the rest of her life and long after you are gone) and have her write a guest column with her perspective. This column would include her reaction to your advice to “How to solve almost any problem (hopefully).” And “hopefully” is the key word. Human beings need hope to carry on through great difficulties and unsolvable problems. A better headline: “How to find strength to help cope with any challenge”

        • Michael Hyatt

          This is good input. Thank you. I just re-wrote the first paragraph. Does that work any better?

          • mom2luke


  • Josh Willis


    Dr. Kim Moon is who you would want to speak with. She has a D.M.A. in voice and speech pathology from Ohio State University. I am surprised that Vanderbilt didn’t have an explanation. Her email is She is world renown. Tell her Josh Willis referred you.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Josh. I appreciate the lead.

  • Kim Henson

    Anytime I’m dealing with a physical ailment, I check out the chart in the back of Louise Hay’s book “You Can Heal Your Life.” She associates physical problems with emotional causes, then offers a new thought pattern. Voice isn’t in there, but throat is.

    The approach you’re suggesting sounds similar to hers, so I thought I’d mention her book. Hope you find relief.

    I appreciate all you share.

  • gail rogers

    Hello Michael
    Being both a strong believer in the power
    of God’s response to our sincere prayers and a Speech Language Pathologist whom
    specialises in the complex area voice for those with & without vocal
    challenges I agree with each strategy you have outlined on your self-initiated
    management plan especially #5 which (i suggest)
    should be # 2 priority in your hierarchy. Thankyou very much for sharing your
    story publicly.
    Gail Rogers
    Speech Language Pathologist
    Cairns, Australia.

  • Leland LeCuyer

    Michael, have you spoken with Diane Rehm about this? Diane hosts a very successful radio call-in program at WAMU in Washington DC that is carried by many NPR stations. Several years ago she almost completely lost her voice, and still struggles with it. But she has sought and received medical treatment that has improved her condition immensely, allowing her to remain on air. If nothing else, it is always comforting to meet someone else who is bearing a similar cross.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Leland. I will check her out.

  • Guest

    Seems like you might benefit from bring psychology into the mix of your versatile life. With all the pressure you put yourself under (public performances), it’s astonishing that your voice doesn’t break down more often. The voice is connected to the mind.

  • Mei Ha Chan

    Seems like you might benefit from bringing psychology into the mix of your versatile life. With all the pressure you put yourself under (public performances), it’s astonishing that your voice doesn’t break down more often. The voice is connected to the mind. It’s the pressure of visibility, I would suggest (what you call transparency). Why the need to put so much upon yourself?

  • Jennifer Langdon

    Michael, what a fearless leader you are. Thank you for sharing about something you have yet to conquer. You give courage with your humility.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jennifer. I am learning from Brené Brown how to be vulnerable. ;-)

  • rc

    I love that prayer is first. He gave us our minds and yearns to direct our steps.

    As others have said about you, among my favorite things about you and others is your willingness to be vulnerable and incredibly real. It’s a strong draw for me and I believe so many. I have just begun taking blogging more seriously and a huge desire is to meet needs. Thanks for being a great example!

  • Rick

    I read about your voice issues. I also noticed that you are coming to the Boston area this Tuesday for a speech. I would highly recommend going to see dr. Steven zeitels at mass general. His center is called the voice center (center for laryngeal surgery and voice rehabilitation). 617 726 1444. He performed surgery on Adele, Steven Tyler and many, many people who make their living using their voices. They are also doing cutting edge research. Their address is: one bowdoin square, 11th floor, Boston, ma 02114. Their website is

    His partner James Burns operated on me and they are truly impressive.

    Perhaps you could see them before or after your speaking engagement.

    Rick Abrams

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Rick. I don’t think I will have time on this trip. My schedule is pretty jammed. But I will kept it in mind for a future visit. Thanks.

  • CC Jones

    Michael, so many of your posts spark ideas, reflection and even action in my life. I take this for granted and rarely comment, but wanted to share a thought with you and your readers today. Your blog post about problem solving resonated with me in a special way as I am working on a health problem that has plagued me for about eight years. Like you, I did a little work to address it…the actions did not achieve the full resolution of the problem and I’ve just let it hang out with me for quite a while. Applying some ideas and techniques from you and others on discipline and goal setting, I began working on this problem in January of this year. I have been actively working to solve this problem. I began with prayer, as well, moved on to educate myself and take action and seek outside help…but the positive thinking…that one I needed. Thank you! God bless you. Happy Easter. Keep the posts coming. I love them!

  • Allen Young

    Unfortunately item 1 is often the last resort.

  • Jace

    Michael, in the spirit of being positive, I don’t like saying I have “problems”, rather “challenges”… :-)…Either way, I am a manager of a sales team, and I find myself struggling with getting my people to produce “good” to “great” results, consistently. The crazy thing is that I am regarded as one of the more fun, motivating, and experienced managers in the office. Reps consistently come to me saying “I want to be on your team!” but then they don’t produce as well as other, less talented, reps in the company. I employ accountability measures, motivational meetings, one on ones with goal setting and “why” talks, I read books, and listen to podcasts (such as yours) to teach myself how to train and motivate my reps more effectively, etc., but I still have not been able to continuously get my reps to meet and/or exceed my proposed budgets. In closing, I was more curious as to what else you might suggest to do for struggling managers, such as myself, on what else we can do, along with the 5 steps offered in your post, that can help with the raw “production” aspect of our respective businesses? More importantly, from your experience, what have you done in your career (if applicable) to overcome such challenges?

    Thanks for your time and attention.


    • Michael Hyatt

      Have you read the Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes? I think you would find it very applicable to your situation. Thanks.

      • Jace

        I have not read it yet, but I will be! Thanks for the reply!

  • Robert Foster

    Hi Michael,
    Thx for another outstanding post. How do you do it? How do you come up with all this genius? *** I Have a QUESTION *** How does your blog font look so crisp? I am creating content on my blog but my font looks so small and not nearly as clean and crisp as yours. Any tips? Any suggested plug-ins? Thx

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your kind words! You should be able to adjust the font size in your blog’s style sheet. If you don’t know how to do that, you might check with a web developer.

      • Robert Foster

        Thx Michael. I was toying with paragraph, headings…I will look into it more. Btw, you are my authority on grammar and proper word type placement – especially like quotations. I always get them wrong but refer back to your posts for correction, lol. Thx again

  • Thad Puckett

    Not sure your age, but I think we are close (I am 52). I recall back in a preaching class when I was in seminary. The professor said a preacher’s “prime time” is between ages of 42 to 52, with one reason being the voice is mature but not yet beginning to falter.

    This morning at church I heard myself singing and thought I don’t sound the same as I did 15 years ago. No magic voice, mine, but it was always clear and not shakey in the least. Now it seems shakey.

    I wonder if we both might be facing that point where our voices begin to degrade a bit. I’m not preaching as much as I once did (though my 16 yo might argue with that). Still, don’t lose heart. Your voice rings out louder than ever I should think through this blog and your other writings. Will be praying with you about the issue.

  • Sheridan Voysey

    Great work, Michael. I once damaged my voice severely – just before I was about to move interstate to take on my first job in radio. It was a nerve-wracking time indeed. I had been abusing my voice through bad vocal technique, and the exercises given to me by a voice specialist, combined with prayer, were key to me learning to use my voice well and strengthen it. So, you’re on the right track. I’ll pray for your voice to regain strength and power.

  • Mark Oelze

    Michael – just want to say thanks for ALL you write and post. I have learned much and been blessed time and again with all you have shared. This blog once again was a great help to me in particular. I am a marriage and family counselor and communicator. My wife and I do a marriage conference we call Madly In Love. I know God has given us a message to share that is not being heard. My problem is that all my adult life I have had a voice clearing problem that plagues me. It has been a constant challenge, one for which I am regularly seeking help. I will be checking out Roger Love’s material. Thank you again!

  • BenHolbrook1

    Hi Michel, what I find really encouraging about this post is the vulnerability in it. That’s what makes people relate to you. Me personally, I’ve been trying to change the internal narrator to better manage worries and anxieties, I particularly found an earlier post where you identified some physical symptoms of anxiety really useful. Thanks

  • Brent Dumler

    Personally, I could benefit from doing this with regards to my wife’s encouragement (challenge) to write an eBook for men who are intimidated with being the Spiritual leader of their home. This is something I’ve bee wrestling with since January. Thanks for the post and ideas, Michael.

    • Joel Boggess

      Hi Brent,

      Make it happen! If you’re not familiar with writing an eBook, Mike has a great how-to guide. I’ve put together two so far using the easy-to-understand instructions.

  • Joel Boggess

    Hi Mike,

    Wonderful post. Thank you for taking a chance and sharing a struggle.

    I agree with what you said about the use of prayer – “While this is necessary, it usually isn’t sufficient.”

    When people begin to understand that God requires initiative and action from His followers, it can be a game-changer. Work and effort on our part doesn’t usurp His authority, it works with it.

    To answer your question, I am in a 7-month Platform-building process with the climax being the release of “Finding your Voice” on Nov 5. Your guidance is spot-on!

    BTW – Your “Platform” talk at the Innovate conference was incredible! Your “voice” was heard.

    • Archie Winningham

      MAN, I wish I could have been at INNOV48! SO many great people there that I would have like to reunited with, and met for the first time, e.g; the great Michael Hyatt!.

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  • The Conz


    As a professional voice-over artist, my voice has to work everyday. Everyone deals with colds, sore throats and even bouts of laryngitis from time to time, but there was a time in 2010 that I had a vocal cord bleed. After doing the strobosco, the Vanderbilt Voice Cliinc recommended complete silence for 3 weeks. After already taking off a week from struggling to speak because of the bleed, and now an additional 3 weeks of silence, this equaled to one month of no income. No talk no mula. Yikes!! (that’s why I’m working your passive income info).

    Since Vandy has found nothing wrong with your voice, I strongly suggest you add these 3 things your routine. 1. Drink more water than you think you need to. 2. Massage your neck several times per day. 3. Read Andrea Bocelli’s book “The Music of Silence.” While those warm ups are nice to strengthen your voice, silence is golden. Don’t speak for one hour 2 times per day…if you can do it 3 times per day, even better, to give your voice a rest. My guess is, if you rest your instrument, the voice cracks will subside. And whatever you do, don’t whisper. That’s very hard on the cords.

    Wishing you the best.

    Thanks for all your great blogs and podcasts.

    • Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for these tips. Very helpful!

  • Daniel Di Bartolo

    Man, I couldn’t imagine losing my voice! Thanks for sharing this. As a preacher and leader, I’m always using mine. Thanks for the reminder to take care of mine!

  • Jon

    Great job on going all out for the solution, and not being held back by pride, or close-mindedness!

  • Parthenia Fayne

    Your transparency is completely refreshing! You help bring the continued encouragement that I need.
    The area where I can apply the 5-step process: moving forward in my business with confidence!
    Thanks so much!!