We can attract people with our language and we can turn them off just as quickly with the words we use. Which ones are the right ones? Which ones will not only connect but communicate what we are intending? Furthermore what “baggage” do the words we use carry with them? I want to take a moment and consider the importance of words in leading others and how the right words can make something stick but just as quickly the wrong words could result in the loss of our influence and leadership in someone’s life.
There are certain words that I read that quickly turn me off: “Vision-casting, BHAG’s, Successful, Daring, Significant” and more. Now don’t get me wrong I see the value of each of these words. I have incorporated what they represent into my own life and leadership and I have taught them to others. However I do often shy away from people using them because of the abuse of them and the “used car-salesman” (no offense intended) impression that some leadership experts carry with them as they teach others how to manipulate (hm-hmmm, I mean lead) others. So is there anything wrong with these words? No. But when I use them could I just as quickly be turning people off to the message I carry because they are perhaps judging me in the same way I have just mentioned? So does that mean we need to get rid of these words, redefine them, redeem them or replace them? And is it really that important?
The traditional words of leadership carry with them important themes and principles that ought to be incorporated and lived out in the daily lives of those who want to genuinely help others and influence both individuals and culture for the good. So how do we make sure that when we speak of “vision” people don’t just think of us as dreamers or orators with no actual ability to bring something to pass or see it through? How do we ensure that when we speak of becoming successful we don’t leave the impression that the most important things to us are status, money and power? How do we speak of “significant” steps that can be taken towards health and growth without people discounting us as merely selling a product? I believe it all comes down to humility, patience, perseverance, time and love. As we love people, they will listen to our words. As we are humble and meek people will watch our lives and begin to realize that our words are more than catch-phrases and buzz-words. As we walk with people, journey with people, listen and hurt, laugh and rejoice with people, they will know that our words are more than words they are an expression of who we are and of the love we are attempting to express for our fellow sojourner.
In my next post I want to elaborate more on redeeming and replacing words (using a new language to speak new and fresh messages) but for today, the question is this: Are your words consistent with your life and character? Are your attitudes reflecting your “leadership principles”? Are your words an extension of your heart for humanity? Or are they merely a vain attempt to grab at a bit of attention, recognition and praise? If you taint your words with ego it won’t be long before you too are grouped in the category of the “used-car salesman” and you may forever burn a bridge of influence you might otherwise have had.
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Photo credit: Nemo’s great uncle / Foter / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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Photo credit: Shawn Econo / Foter / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)