However, I cannot think of a bigger crock of shit than the devaluation on the power of words. Words can hurt. They can hurt a lot. Words can also heal. They can create trust and end trust. Words can build you up and break you down. They can create connections and laughter. Words can teach, and they can offend. Words can guide you and they can inspire.
When I think back to the most profound times in my life, I can centralize those moments around words that were spoken.
I love you.
Peace be with you.
You’re not sorry.
It’s a boy.
It’s a girl.
There is no heartbeat.
I love you, mama.
You are my best friend.
You’ve not met my expectations.
You've made my life better.
Will you marry me?
I’m sorry, it’s cancer.
I’m proud of you.
It won’t be long now.
You are amazing.
I do love you, you know.
Words carry an immeasurable amount of value. They can create bookmarks for moments in time. Sometimes they can place imprints on your heart so deep that when re-spoken your emotions are triggered as if they were being said for the first time.
Words hold power when said to someone else and they hold power when whispered to ourselves.
This past week I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Austin, Texas hosted by Ameriprise. Its focus was based around the empowerment and value of women within our company. It was a true honor to be surrounded by so many incredible women.
In one of the more valuable sessions I attended, they asked each participant to pick five words, words that were aligned to our specific mission and values. These words are meant to guide you so you can be sure you are spending your time and energy in alignment with your values. In turn, where you spend your energy you inevitably move yourself closer towards achieving your goals.
Connection: I may not have a lot of relationships, but the ones I do have need to be meaningful. My time and my focus is based around my connection with my kids, my husband, my family, my friends and my teammates. Without connection, my life feels empty.
Health: I place a lot of importance on a healthy mind, soul, heart and body. My life is in better balance and I’m more effective if my health is at its best.
Impact: In everything I do, professional or personal, it is important to me I am making a positive impact. It does not need to be grandiose or massive, but it must exist. I understand I can’t make an impact in everything I do or everyone I touch, but it is important to me that the majority of my life is aligned to where I can drive the most value.
Respect: It is important to me I am respected as a person and a professional. I want to be trusted as someone who will always put my best foot forward to deliver on what I promise. My morals and ethics guide me. I believe in kindness first, and I always live with the best intentions. I will be firm and direct when needed and you will always know where you stand with me. I give others the benefit of the doubt and treat people with the same kindness and respect I expect in return.
Ownership: I work to understand what is mine in this life to own and what is not. I believe I own my happiness, just as you own yours. My life may not be perfect. I have failed many, many times, but it is up to me to be accountable for my mistakes so I can learn and grow. I believe it is up to me to own how successful I am at connection, personal health, the impact I make in this world and the respect I earn from those around me.
So yes, words mean something. They are not without hurt, pain, joy and especially power.
Take five minutes. Think of five words that align you to your values. Let those words be your north star reminding you of what is important, and let them guide you in the decisions you make and the energy you give.
Sticks and stones may break our bones, but our words hold the power to create many incredible things.