There are many ways in which words impact us, but there are three things we must consider about each word or group of words to determine how much impact we will allow them to have in our lives.
We must consider the validity, consider the motivation and consider the source.
Consider the validity.
For a word to be valid, it must be true, honest and clearly communicated. Webster’s says “well grounded or justifiable; being at once relevant and meaningful.”
As I stood before the plate, awaiting the next pitch all I could hear in my head was “You will never hit a home run until you learn to keep your eye on the ball.” As the ball came blazing toward the plate, I stepped in, took a deep breath, closed both eyes and swung the bat with all my might… CRACK, the ball connected right on the Louisville Slugger Logo, the bat splintered and the ball rushed toward the sky. As the ball dropped about two feet inside the center field fence, I stood in sheer wonder. Suddenly reality sank in and I heard all the screaming, “Run!” So I ran. It was my first ever in the park home run. I was seven.
It was about fifteen years later when I was playing softball on a co-ed church league that I realized what “keep your eye on the ball” meant. It was never really explained to me as a kid, it seemed some esoteric interpretation of the game of baseball to me. Like “I have my eye on you” or “Keep your eye on that piece of pie” or “I have had my eye on that Mustang for years.” The idea of staring only at the ball, with intent and focus until it literally connected with the bat was a meaning that was lost on me far too long.
Is it just me or do we often hear words and phrases that are lost to us? Words that the giver finds to be profound words of wisdom but to us they may as well be in another language. Have you ever been in the midst of a difficult engineering endeavor, say building that doll house you bought for Christmas, and had your co-engineer say “hand me that do-hickey will ya?” Perhaps you were in the midst of a meeting at work when the IT guru spoke something like “If you will just reconfigure your firewall settings to allow cookies then the static domain that allows acceptance will permit you to select ‘I Agree’ to the terms and conditions, then we can move forward.” I was hoping I was not the only one on whom that instruction was lost.
Words are important. Aren’t they? Words give us direction. Like a GPS almost. They tell us where to go. Trust me if you ever drive in traffic, you have either said or read the lips of very specific words telling someone where to go.
We need words to guide us. Stern words like, “Please remove your hand from that burner or momentarily you will find it to be of an unacceptable temperature that might induce a slight discomfort to the nerve endings in your phalanges.” Right? Or “Don’t touch that!” might be better. Words should be concise and intentional. Words should communicate a meaning and light a path for us.
If you are going to give or follow instructions, words of direction, motivation or inspiration they must first be valid. Is that word relevant and meaningful to you? Does that word or phrase ring true as being well grounded and justifiable or is it merely the opinion of the person from whom it came?
I like what John Maxwell says, “The man who knows what to do will always have a job, but the man who knows why will always be his boss.” That illustrates the power of a phrase that is profound in meaning and broad in application. I implore you whenever someone speaks a strong word to you, always find the Why Behind! Here is a formula or definition I recently discovered. WHY= motivation + priorities. When you understand why something was said, it is much easier to determine the validity.
Next we will look at the motivation behind the words we hear.