power of words
This is the first in a series of three posts on the different types of super powers we all have. My definition of a super power: the ability to shape the life of others….for better or worse.
This past Memorial Day weekend my family got to spend time with some of our best friends. Between our 2 families we had 6 kids under the age of 10 running around our home. A portion of our time together was spent creating new super hero names for each kid and identifying their corresponding super powers. When I watched our children imagine different types of creative superpowers, I think about how we as adults fail to realize the powers we can actually yield….the powers to shape the life of others….for better or for worse.
Super Power #1: The Power of Words
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa
As children we all heard the rhetoric, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Really? Let’s not kid ourselves. Words are potent. They can build and they can destroy. I once read that a word is like a living organism, capable of growing, changing, spreading, and influencing your family, team, or organization in many ways, directly and indirectly.
Many years ago as a young platoon commander, I worked with a Marine originally from India. He and his family moved to the U.S. at an early age and he decided as a junior in high school to serve his country. During one of our many conversations about his childhood in India, he shared with me a Hindu word, “Genshai” – his translation – never treat others in a way to make them feel small.
Our discussion reminded me that the importance and power of one’s words is noticed across all cultures. Coming from one’s parent, spouse, friend, or leader, a positive word provides inspiration. It builds confidence, initiative, and trust. Most importantly it builds courage. Courage to do what’s right. Courage to try new ideas. Courage to make your family, team, or organization better!!
As a spouse, parent, or leader, how are you leveraging the power of your words?
I offer the following three daily challenges to you (think Public, Private, Protect):
(1) Public: Publicly speak a work of encouragement / praise to one of your family or team members in front of others.
(2) Private: Privately drop an email or note to one of your people thanking them for their hard work and encouraging them in their efforts.
(3) Protect: Protect your family and your team from the damage that your words may cause…..hold your tongue when angry, frustrated, or tired….you’ll never regret it.
Like all super powers, the power in your words can build or destroy. Use them wisely!