Words Have Power (Sometimes the Simpler the Better)



Ever hear someone say we need to "strive for perfection", or how about "pursue excellence"? Don't get me wrong, these are great phrases and can be inspirational in many cases. I don't know about you, but when I hear the word 'strive' I instantly get a picture of struggling and sweating to make something happen and I'm usually in an unflattering outfit. Kinda like that spinning class, I tried once (now there's a story, but I'll save that one for another time).

I know, I know, some of you are already thinking I've lost my marbles in this article. After all, don't we all want to improve? You bet we do and my marbles are intact, I promise. What I'm getting at is this: if improvement and success are always framed as something I'm going to be so exhausted while going after (insert spinning class memory), I might be a little less excited to get that particular move on. And maybe, just maybe, it affects my team the same way.

What I really want is to feel fantastic about what I'm going after; all jazzed up about it. I think that, while there is definitely hard work involved when aiming for something big, there's also a whole lotta fun and incredible personal growth along the way. Both are pretty awesome things to experience and, when paired together, they can light a person up about what they're reaching for. Maybe it's because I just love to laugh and have a great time throughout my day, or maybe it's because I'm just simple; okay, maybe all of the above. But I believe that it's the journey (the doing of the thing) that's just as important as where you are headed; and frankly, I want that trip to be meaningful and fun.

I have the good fortune of working for someone who changed me with three words. Mitch Luciano, CEO and President of Trailer Bridge took a chance on me a few years back. Talk about gratitude; I got boatloads of it for the leap of faith he took by bringing me on board.  But I’d like to share something really cool he did for me, and everyone that works for him I’m sure. When I'd share an idea (some might even say of the cockamamie variety) he'd simply say "Go for it". Wow, right? There was no chart to produce, no 18-page proposal to make, no back and forth for weeks on end, no special committee to form to knock it around for six months; just "Go for it." Go for it I certainly did, with gobs of enthusiasm that made the hard work of getting it done a little less hard and a lot more of, well, everything.

He actually says that a lot still, not every single time mind you, but enough so we quickly get the picture: there's no struggle, no pursuit, no spinning class trauma (I can't let go of that yet, but stay with me I have a point); there's just getting started and simply taking the next steps. Plus, get this; there's a much different energy around it, and a much greater willingness to get uncomfortable when you believe someone else believes in you. Perhaps, the most remarkable part of these three little words is letting us know he trusts us to try. They may be simple little words, but they are big-time magical and pack a powerful punch of 'you can do it'. Quite frankly, I'd much rather "Go for it" than "strive" any day. Wouldn't you?

Words are definitely powerful and this as true at home as it is at work. There is huge power in what we say because of the emotions that come with words; words can build us up and sadly can be used to tear us down. Words don't have to be fancy-schmancy or send us ‘Googling’ to understand what they mean. In fact, the simplest of words really can have the greatest of meanings and definitely have the power to inspire. Choose carefully and give it a try; or maybe I should just say ‘Go for it’. Striving (and spinning) not needed.

Originally published on LinkedIn.


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