Change Your Language - Shift the Power

match on fire small2It's amazing how the words you use can be empowering or disempowering. It's so easy to talk yourself out of things. When I woke up at 5:30AM on Monday morning to get ready for my 6:00 AM swim, I heard the self-talk in my head. I should get up and go to my session because it is good for me. I listened to my own language and realized that I have already disengaged and don't really want to go. When I changed my language to I am going to my swim session, something shifted in me. When I then changed it to I choose to attend the session I felt fully engaged and full of power.

I listen to the language healthcare leaders use and listen for engagement behind the words. There is a spectrum of empowerment in the words used.

Check out how your language shows up on the power spectrum below and choose to shift your language to more powerful words.

0 – I Should

When you say you "should" do something, you are not fully engaged. It's a very passive voice and it's like you have given the power away. These words are far from motivating and I will call you out on your use of the words. It's red flag that you are just going through the motions. There is no commitment.

0 – I Can't

You are probably right. If you say you can't, you really can't. But what if you change your language to "what can I do?"

1-2 – I'll Try

This reminds me of Yoda in the movie Star Wars. He said ""Do, or do not. There is no try." "Try" gives you an out, it lacks intention and confidence. It sows doubt in your mind.

3-4 I Could

Possibilities open up when you use the word "could". You're not stuck in someone else's ideas. When I say "I could change my behaviour" I consider it an option. I haven't really stepped into the world of action and power but I am considering it.

5-7 – I Want

A shift happens when "want" shows up. There is more of you in this word. The "shoulds", "oughts" and "maybes" are gone. Your personal desire is coming out and commitment increases. While this is a step in the right direction, we can still get stuck in inaction when we stay at "want": "I want to communicate better", "I want to share more information", "I want to be better organized".

7-8 - I Will

What will you start doing? When your "will" shows up, your power shows up. Your will alone determines what you do next.

9 – I Choose

"Choose" is one of my favourite words. Choice is power and you always have a choice. You chose confidence. You choose action. You choose joy. You choose balance. I choose to show up as a leader and be authentic. Choice comes from a power paradigm. It comes from the heart as well as the head and radiates commitment.

10 - I Am

This is the most powerful and creative word. "I am powerful". "I am pursuing my goals and dreams". It is so powerful that it can also destroy. "I am a failure" or "I am not good enough". Strong "am" statements build belief and coupled with action will produce results. It reminds me of of the switch I made from "just jogging" to "being a runner". I showed up differently and committed to the training with belief in what was possible. 

Stop and listen to your own words today. Listen to the ones you speak out loud and the ones in your head. Challenge yourself on where the powerless language shows up and make a commitment to using powerful language. You will see the change.


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