On August 22, 2010 I posted a blog titled “Are there words we should NEVER say–and who makes that decision.” The point of the post was to examine hurtful words–and whether or not there was a line that should be drawn.
Today, I would like to examine words again–not hateful words towards others but, rather, words that can rob us of our own passion. Buddha is credited with the quote of “What we think, we become.” Taking it a step further, I maintain what we say, we become. Allow me to offer exhibits A, B, C, and D.
A. Try and But. The first week of a new semester, I challenge my students to eliminate these words from their vocabularies. The intent of the exercise is to heighten awareness of how these words can serve as demotivators. They really are excuse laden. Why say you are going to “try” and do something? Why say you “tried” to do something? The reality is that you either did it–or you did not. Why minimize the effort (or lack of effort) with, “Well, I tried?” Same for “but.” It is a huge eraser for everything that comes before it in the sentence. “Yes, I promised to exercise BUT I ran out of time.” Again, you did it or you did not. We have to face up to that fact–and then figure out a way to do what we need or promise to do. Yoda told us, “Do or do not. There is no try.”
Video recommendation for the week:
B. You. This is one of the most abused pronouns in our language. OK…this is a pet peeve…but I believe it has real implications. Listen to interviews of people who have just accomplished or failed at an act. Here is what we often hear: “When you find yourself facing those odds, you freeze and you are not able to perform.” OR “You don’t know where you find the strength to accomplish that. You are glad you find it!” Why not own the statement and action and say, “When I found myself facing those odds, I froze and I was not able to perform.” OR “I don’t know where I found the strength to accomplish that. I am glad I found it!”
C. Can’t or Won’t. I found this reminder in this month’s edition of Success Magazine. Many times we hear things like “I can’t lose weight” or “I can’t find time to exercise” or “I can’t find time to fix the lawnmower.” The reality is closer to “I won’t lose weight” or “I won’t find time to exercise” or “I won’t find time to fix the lawnmower.” Yes, sometimes there are circumstances that stymie us; they don’t, however, have to derail us. Why not reframe the situation? For instance, the chances of me every playing guitar like Eric Clapton are slim. But is that the real issue? The larger issue is that I want to play guitar better. And if I really want that end, all I have to do is practice. If I won’t practice, I won’t get better. Pretty straight forward. If I am not getting what I want, I need to look myself in the mirror and speak the truth to me.
D. Would you say the words to your mother? Social media has transformed our lives. Facebook has 500 million users and Twitter has now reached one billion tweets per week. Unfortunately, with all those status updates and tweets examples abound of poor word choice and judgment. Consider what just happened with Chrysler. As Erik Qualman explains it on the Socialnomics site (http://www.socialnomics.net/2011/03/14/chrysler-fires-agency-over-f-tweet/), Chrysler hired a company to help with advertising and marketing. Part of the new campaign was establishing a Twitter account for the car giant. One of the marketing agency’s employees mistakenly posted a tweet on the Chrysler Twitter feed; he thought he was tweeting on his personal account. Unfortunately, he dropped the F-bomb in the tweet. His employer dropped him from employment–and Chrysler dropped the company. Oops!
With so many words uttered each day, we may forget that what we say does have an impact. On others and on our own growth and wellbeing.
Here’s to a week filled with more “dos” fewer “don’ts;” more “I” less “you;” a focus on “can” instead of “can’t;” and words mom will be proud of.
© Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2011.