I can often tell how effective someone is by the words they use.
I can tell if they are confident.
I can tell if they are focused, hopeful, full of possibility or limiting themselves.
All by the words they use.
It’s not “magic.”
It’s the words.
They are the magic.
The Magic Words and Phrases
I find words come in two forms:
Empowering and limiting
The Limiting Words and Phrases
Limiting words inhibit and discourage.
The list includes:
Going to…, going to when…, going to if…, was going to but…
I should…, I’ll try to…
I hope to…
I wish…, I really want to…, I know I need to…
The Empowering Words and Phrases
The empowering words are freeing and inspiring.
This list includes:
I will… (and often is followed by a specific date)
I am …
It’s going to happen…
It’s a done deal…
It’s a matter of when ,not if…
The list is, by no means, limited to these examples as this story illustrates:
In October 2008 following my second Ironman triathlon, I had a tear in my right rotator cuff repaired. As I intended to continue competing in endurance races, I had to commit to being out of competition for one year and be willing to devote that time to rehabbing my shoulder.
I was not worried about making the commitment of time and effort, but I absolutely hated the thought of “rehab.” Day in and day out I would have to spend time slowly strengthening my shoulder. I didn’t want to rehab; I wanted to work out—to swim, bike, run and lift. As the process began, I would put on my tee shirt and shorts and meet with my physical therapist. He would expertly lead me through the strengthening exercises, and I would dutifully repeat what I had been told to do all the while dreading each day.
And then it occurred to me.
It wasn’t the rehab I resented but the meaning I associated with rehab. I liked workouts but not rehab. “Fine,” I decided. “No more rehab.” “From now on I’m going to do my ‘workouts’.” How do I dress when I’m doing a workout? Certainly not in tee- shirt and shorts. I wear my tri clothes.
“Then tri clothes it is,” I responded.
What else do I do with my workouts? I log my time everyday.
“Then that’s what we’ll do.”
And that’s what I did.
And everything changed.
The enthusiasm I had when preparing for a race was transferred to my “workouts.” Instead of getting excited over faster times, I got excited over being able to do more reps. My new markers were those moments when I could resume biking on my trainer, when I could start light jogging and finally when I was cleared to begin swimming. Each milestone was like winning a mini-race.
In June I was released from rehab, and in August I had my final visit with my surgeon where I was told my recovery and repair were everything he had hoped for.
And it all started with changing the word “rehab” to the word “workout.”
What about you?
What do your words do to your life and effectiveness?
Is it time for a new list of words?