In today’s Leadership nugget, Mr. Mike reminds us how powerful language can be. I know it sounds funny, but the other day I got a fortune cookie with the following message:
“Only you can change your life. NO ONE can do it for you.”
While it’s easy to brush this off as “fortune cookie wisdom,” the language is very powerful. I mean if Steve Jobs or Jack Welsh was quoted as saying this, it would be Tweeted all over the blogosphere.
Remember – the words you use at work and at home are powerful, have impact, and be just influential, as well as, devastating with those to hear them.
That’s something to think about today.
To: The Great Leaders Who Have a Passion for Continuous Learning
An unknown author wrote: “The language we use to communicate with one another is like a knife. In the hands of a careful and skilled surgeon, a knife can work to do great good. But in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can cause great harm.” In the Purplefeather Company’s captivating YouTube video (click here) filmed in Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow, Scotland, we are given a beautiful reminder of the power of words.
The camera shows a man sitting quietly in the rain-drenched square with a small tin can to his side. The sign behind the can reads: “I’m blind please help.” As people pass by, there is an infrequent tinkle heard from the can. A young woman approaches, passes by the man and then returns. Standing in front of him she bends, grasps his sign and begins writing on it. As she is doing this, the man touches her shoes as if to identify her. She returns the sign to its place and walks away. Now as people pass, the tinkle from the can is much more frequent and louder, and the man is busy collecting the coins from his can. After a while, the same young woman returns and stops in front on the man. She looks into the can. As she does this, his hands touch her shoes. Recognizing her he looks up and says to her: “What did you do with my sign?” Gently touching his shoulder and kneeling, she says: “I wrote the same… indifferent words.” He says: “Thank you, love” as she leaves. The camera returns us to the sign, which reads: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” The scene fades and leaves the viewer a message: “Change your words. Change your world.”
While the content of the message on the sign remain unchanged, the words now have an emotional appeal – beyond the factual. They now create a connection with people. Great leaders recognize this distinction and its power. Words need to be precise when communicating a shared understanding of goals, missions and strategies or establishing joint expectations around goals or activities. There are other times when words need the power of emotional content: in communicating a vision, in coaching and mentoring people to grow, in moving people to tap into their innovative and creative abilities.
Use your magnificent power of words this week. Let them inspire others to greatness, to fill them with excitement and passion so that they push their perceived boundaries. Go beyond the casual statement of fact. Let your words paint pictures of possibilities that can be achieved and dreams that can be realized. Bring passion, excitement and hope to everyone you touch. Heed the counsel of Robert Southey, English poet, with your words: “It is with words as with sunbeams, the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.”
Have a beautiful day and an extraordinary week!!!
Michael M. Reuter
Director, Center for Leadership Development
Stillman School of Business
Seton Hall University
Tel: (Office) 973.275.2528