The power of words
Last week a remark President Obama made changed history with a few simple words. ”Personally,” it was ”important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
To you and me this idea may seem obvious, but for the history of the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement this statement will change lives, including yours and mine.
If you look closely you will see that the most powerful word in this statement is ”THINK”. Because the leader of the free word ”thinks” same-sex marriage is ok, his thought became words and his words will become action. Obamas' words will influence people's thinking and create real social change. His words affirm an idea, create a new reality and bring forward a new future.
This statement is a "forward thinking" one. Obama uses his words very carefully when he chooses to say "go ahead". Those two words give his statement a sense of forward action and permission to think in a way we haven't yet. Powerful.
I pay great attention to the words my coaching clients use when they are describing the problems and challenges they have in their business. Often times they have convinced themselves of a reality that can not be changed. People who say ”I'm not good in marketing my business” generally aren’t. If you are thinking and saying ”I'm not good in selling my work” you probably aren't. If you are thinking it and speaking it, you are creating it.
Our brain in an amazing instrument in its capacity to learn new things and at the same time it is also pretty stupid instrument too as it learns only what it hears. What it hears it believes. The brain soaks up everything and if we’re not careful, we start believing everything we hear, including the words that come out of our own mouths.
Our thinking shapes who we are. My friend David Firth, a fellow coach and an English scholar, writes in his book ”Change your world one word at a time”:
”Our lives are as they are because we have had the conversations we’ve had, and because we’ve said the things we’ve said. We’ve made requests, promises, exhortations, apologies, justifications, demands, predictions and told stories -- and in this way we’ve talked our world into being.”
As designers, marketers and creative professional we know how the power of words can achieve results for our clients. A strong brand name or a powerful tag line can elevate a business and ultimately translate into dollars. We choose the words we use for our clients so carefully and strategically so why don't we practice the same thing when it comes to creating our lives or our business?
The problem many of us have with words that come out of our own mouths is that often times we are speaking so fast that we don't even hear what we are saying. But our brain does. Our brain has the ability to absorb more that we can understand or be conscious of. So when we think ”we can't DO or BE anything” we are right. We can't because we have already convinced ourselves that we can't.
I was recently moved by a scene from the movie The Iron Lady where Meryl Streep who plays her Oscar winning role of Margaret Thatcher, the Prime Minister of Britain, says:
”Watch your thoughts
For they become words
Watch your words
For they become actions
Watch your actions
For they become habits
Watch your habits
As they become your character
And watch your character
For it becomes your destiny.
What we think
Thatcher’s words sum up the reason I love coaching people. I love the power of words and the miracles that happen in a powerful conversation. When the right words are chosen and spoken we create a new reality. Lives change, businesses grow, money get created. All with words.
Want to create a successful business, a beautiful life or a powerful YOU? Start by changing your thinking. Your words will do the rest.