The Language of Success
Conscious Communication: bringing communication up from "auto-pilot" and reactive, to thoughtful, responsive, and above all, intentional.
podcast version (8:43 min.) in the background while you file, exercise, ride to work, etc.
Memorial - John Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009)As an aspiring writer, I must note the passing of one of America’s greatest natural resources. Anyone who has managed to not read any of Updike’s plethora of literary works; get thee to a library! As an absolute master of the English language with amazing powers of observation and description, Updike covered poetry, novels, short stories, and more with a linguistic palette unparalleled in American writers for the past 50 years.
He could describe an encounter with a Yellow Finch, trapped and confused in a barn with such clarity, that you could feel the urgency of the fluttering, and the bursting forth of freedom when released to the sky, as if you were right there. The only literary award that he did not win (at least once) was the Nobel, and many of us feel he was robbed. Whenever I find myself struggling over the wording or rhythm of a single phrase for an hour, I allow myself the conceit that in some small way, I am understanding the craftsmanship of writing, as Updike understood it. Well, maybe like a harmonica following Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. As I struggle to wring a few droplets from my mind, he was a non-stop gushing waterfall for half a century.
The Language of Success
(click for podcast version)
Make It So
Now that the U.S. is in the midst of a split personality disorder: caught between renewed hope for the future and panic, how we talk to ourselves is going to drive and direct that future. There’s an old adage that says, “if you believe you can or you believe you cannot, you’re right.” We convince ourselves of our futures before we take the actions that make them real. This is old news to the golfer who visualizes the ball dropping into the cup before the swing, or the artist who sees the completed painting before lifting a brush.
This is also the underlying feature of everything from Positive Psychology to “the Secret,” and the “Law of Attraction,” and it works on us every day. When we convince ourselves that everything is happening to us, and we’re nothing but a thistle-seed on the breeze of life, that becomes our experience. It becomes reinforced as we prepare ourselves for that future, expect that future, and yes, take precisely the action steps that will lead to that future.
If everyone says “we’re in a recession,” we will make it so. If we constantly say the economy is bad, we will make it so. I’m not saying that we ignore reality by any means, but that we look beyond the hand that we’re dealt, to the game we’re in. Playing a lousy hand well will take you further than playing a great hand badly. The last decade or so has been as economically unrealistic as the dot com boom of the nineties. The bubble had to burst; that’s the nature of a bubble. The first little pig built his house out of straw, and the second little pig built his house out of sticks. These are not sustainable when the big bad wolf of reality comes huffing and puffing. So now we can either tear at our hair and gnash our teeth, or get to work re-building; this time out of bricks.
Not to belabor this point, but the difference between a recession and a depression is unemployment. So the fastest way into a depression is thru irrational layoffs. Unless we smarten up in a hurry, we’ll bring the roof down on ourselves. A large chain store announced a layoff of 10% of their workforce to “account for fewer sales.” Since their entire payroll bill is less than 20% of their sales, the layoffs will achieve a whopping 2% decrease in expenses. This is a ludicrous false myth, propagated by corporations trying to appease stockholders with action of some sort. Stockholders who are not stakeholders look at today’s stock prices, not the sustained health of the organization. Thus Human Resource Suicide is a viable expense cut. This idiocy fuels the panic that can rob you of power.
When we honestly look at the math, myths crumble. Sub-prime derivatives anyone? If we decide to make reality work, we can make reality work. Putting thousands of people out of work, stretching government systems and unemployment insurance costs, for a savings that won’t make any difference, is not paying attention to reality, and that’s the fastest way to lose the game
Setting a Forward Course
As powerful and reliable as defeatist language and defeatist actions can be, the other direction is just as easily attained. We start with our own internal dialogue; how we talk to ourselves. It is very difficult to observe the world around us, interpret from a defeatist position, and then promote a successful, winning perspective. The change has to start at the very beginning of this process. Just as ripples flow outward from the stone we toss into a lake, our words and actions flow outward from our perceptions and interpretations.
If we truly want success, we must be conscious and strategic about where we toss that stone. Our interpretations and perceptions are integral to our formulatory apparatus; the part of us that takes in, sorts, and forms our understanding. If we want to improve our situations, we need to do this from a position where we have power and control. To say “I can’t do xyz because the economy is bad,” is a total surrender to powerlessness. This defeatist position allows us to be washed out with the tide. Turning this around starts with language shifts completely within our power.
First, the economy isn’t “bad.” The economy is going thru corrections, adjustments, upheaval, or any of the other thousand descriptions that don’t include a value judgment definition. The economy is not evil or sinful, vulgar or obscene (although some salary bonuses are) nor is it disobedient or naughty; all definitions of bad. Squeezing 80% of the country’s wealth into 7% of the population’s pockets took almost a decade of careful strategy and legislation, and cracking open those log jams will take time. It will also take very different thinking to solve the problems that current thinking created.
Second, to say “how can I do xyz?” skips right to the powerful position of knowing you can do it, and looking for the how. This sets up the formulatory apparatus to recalibrate your way of interpreting input. An obstacle is thrown in your path. Where once you might have thought, “oh no, my path is blocked,” now you think, “how am I going to get past this?” We move from victim to problem solver just by shifting our internal dialogue. First we catch ourselves, then we interrupt the pattern, then we replace the victim language with the problem solver language.
We’re not going to get past today’s obstacles by stopping, getting angry or hurt, and waiting for someone to make things better. Everything is going to be about better problem solving, more creativity, more innovation. Consciously pushing our communication to where we’re stepping up puts us in charge of our lives, where we can steer and make a difference
Although many of us were taught that looking at worst-case scenarios is the best way to be prepared, that process only works in very specific areas. Unfortunately we tend to apply this process everywhere, and routinely saw off the branch we’re sitting on. We don’t want to be called a happy idiot or a “Polyanna,” so we prepare for the worst, put our attention there, and brace for impact
Want to learn more about how your communication can hold you back or catapult you forward? Come visit the web site, or better yet, contact me and see how we can design a program to fit your needs and desired outcomes.
Conscious Communication - the podcast series
Personal Life Media - "Coaching the Life Coach:"
Interview for Entrepreneur Magazine Radio w/ R. Wolter
Interview Podcast for Evolutionary Radio w/ J. McClain
Ever want to create
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Welcome to the Conscious Communication Chronicle, sharing how Conscious Communication results in success, and how you can achieve yours. Enjoy!
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Kind Ambition is about you having the tools to slide over to the driver’s seat of your own life. Circumstances will always be changing, seemingly thwarting our plans, but we don’t have to be thrown around by them. You can be in charge of your choices and actions more than you might imagine - yet.
Kind Ambition is written for you, as a practical guide you can use right now. It is a collection of insights and actions designed to help you move forward and get more out of your life at home and at work. The chapters hold to a formula of first giving you a new way to look at things, then offering you tangible Action Steps to try them out, and finally some things to notice when you do.
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