“The words we use matter”

Think of the traits of good leaders. The words calm, cool, and collected come to mind. I visualize a woman or man that stays positive, even when stressed. Know a leader like this? Chances are you look up to them too.

As leaders, it’s our job to stay positive. Especially when things are not great. This is critical because everyone else is looking at us to lead them, and if we are negative, or visibly show our stress, those we lead respond. The morale declines, and we decrease our chances of achieving success.

I had a not so good day yesterday. I say this because remaining calm and positive really helped me achieve success. My credit card was stolen, followed by a cancelled flight, and not so good feedback on a book I am writing. These things really happened. I had fraudulent charges, I missed a client engagement, and I got an email with negative feedback. How I chose to perceive it was completely within my control. I paused, took a deep breath, and, instead of panicking, I calmly called customer service and cancelled my credit card, I patiently called all parties involved about my flight situation, and positively responded to the feedback email. I realized in the moment that I could chose how to perceive the world around me. I thought about what I could gain from these things happening. If I had a breakdown (which sometimes used to happen), I would not accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. I had the power of positivity. I embraced each obstacle, and one by one managed through it and went home and spent a wonderful night with my family. I actually gained some quality time in the process. I recognized the negative thoughts, quickly flipped them into positive ones, and ended up writing this blog to maintain my positivity trajectory.

Leadership is a mindset. One that needs positivity to fuel it. In coaching leaders, I often hear not so positive words to describe their perceptions. When it happens, I share this statement: “The words we use matter. We have a choice in how we perceive the world around us.” The leader usually sits quiet for a minute and thinks about this. It’s kind of revolutionary when you really reflect. We have choices. Our emotions and our perceptions are completely within our control. When you flip a negative perception into a positive one, it is game changing. We create our reality. We participate in shaping the world around us. Therefore, we choose results we will achieve.

For those naysayers that remember all of the positive psychology of the 80’s and dismiss this notion, I promise this works. Think of your not so good day moment. How did you respond? How did that help you achieve what you wanted to achieve? To do this well, practice three simple steps. Those I coach always have a positive experience and better results with positivity.

1) Take an inventory of the words you use
2) Flip them into positives
3) Maintain the positivity trajectory

Take an inventory of the words you use

For a couple of days, be really cognizant of the words you use. Remember, the words you say and think matter. This could involve tallying positive and negative words, journaling to reflect on your word choices, or just being more mentally aware. Once you have spent some time being aware of the choices you make, identify patterns. It is important to understand when it happens and who it happens with. There are likely some negative forces in your life that drive it. Pinpoint the root cause and quickly move onto the next step.

Flip them into positives

It is important that we quickly dismiss the negative thoughts. We cannot allow the negative thoughts to remain in our heads for long. They can take root if we spend too much time reflecting on them. Sometimes it’s okay to quiet them by saying to yourself, “it’s just a thought.” Thoughts are just thoughts. We all have creepy ones time to time. Just let it go. To flip these words into positive ones, I recommend having a go to bank of affirmations that make you feel good. For me, it’s “I am a respected and sought out coach”. I remember that when life hands me a not so good day. I do not dwell on the negative, I flip the thought quickly, and move on. I ask myself, “what is possible?” and “what will I gain from this?” Yesterday, I gained quality family time and this blog post. When I first started doing this well, I realized how much more I was achieving. It was like the days had gotten longer. And, I have not had a single fight with my husband in 2 months. Really. It’s game changing.

Maintain the positivity trajectory

Positivity, like leadership, is a mindset. The words we use matter. The words we tell ourselves matter. To shift fully to a positive mindset, having an accountability partner can help significantly. I have a few go-to people I talk to when I have a not so good day. Yesterday, one of clients helped me by saying, “what is possible” and another friend said “what’s the worst that could happen?”. They helped me see that this was not this was not the worse case scenario and I could gain something from the experience. Meditation is also highly encouraged to maintain our positive mindset. This technique helps us quiet our minds and proactively dissolve the negative words before they even have a chance to manifest themselves into our reality. It’s been around for a long time, so it works.

So, the next time you have a not so good day, remember that leader that stays positive. And, remember “the words we use matter”. Try being positive, and see what happens. You will be pleased with the results.

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