What makes our words powerful and effective? What we say, combined with how we live can together offer a synergistic force that can literally change the world (or at least the world around us). So if we are trying to help people become all that they can be, what words should we use and how can we redeem or replace words that have become ineffective or tired and worn-out?
The reason why our words become tired and worn out is because people have heard the claims before and have also seen a lack of follow-through, a lack of consistency and lack of integrity in the lives of those who speak the words. So first of all the simple (and yet not at all easy) reality is that our words will carry weight if our lives are in agreement with our words. If we live what we preach people will take note. If we speak what we mean and mean what we speak. If we follow through on our promises and commitments, if we back up our promises with actions, people will begin to notice. Our words are so often received with skepticism because people have been burned before and are hoping not to have it happen again. If you want to be an effective leader and have them believe your words, you must be a consistent and faithful person full of honesty, integrity and follow-through.
The reason our words become ineffective is because we are addressing things that are no longer an issue or of importance to the people we are leading. Leadership is not using certain buzz-words and simply creating an environment of excitement and unity. Leadership is helping specific people in specific situations discover their calling and purpose and empowering them to become all they can be. As such we need to know our people. We need to know what they are going through and what is important, difficult, exciting and/or tiring to them. We need to know what they are feeling and thinking and our words need to come in direct response to their specific needs. And so we need to have new words for new situations. And we don’t need to try and figure out a new vocabulary or develop a new repertoire of buzz-words but instead we need to be attentive to each individual circumstance and each individual person and offer words appropriate in each context.
So please, don’t try to look for the “magic words” that will unlock people and make each and every person and circumstance work out just right. Instead realize that we need to live and lead in such a way that our words mean something because of our integrity and because of specific care we offer through our words (and attitudes and behaviors) in each and every specific relationship and context we find ourselves in.