Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Have you ever found yourself in a moment when a single word changes everything? 
When one sentence brings clarity and direction?
When your entire world is changed in one expression of truth?
When a one-liner suddenly opens your eyes?
When a conversation inspires and encourages you like nothing else can?
When lyrics from a song urge you to action?
When a book title makes you smile?
When a magazine article motivates you see a situation differently?

The whispered “I do” in a breath-taking union.
The tearful “goodbye” uttered at an airport.
The surprised mumbling of a first word uttered by a child, “mama”.
The beauty of life unfolding as words express what we hold within.

Words create impressions, images and expectations. They build psychological connections. They influence how we think. Since thoughts determine actions, there’s a powerful connection between the words we use and the results we get.

The current rugby world cup is an example of this. The unity of words used to support our bokke. The facebook and twitter status’s declaring victory for our team. The rugby jerseys and inspired conversations between strangers who share excitement over each match. The groups of friends hovering over television screens all over our nation… 
And as our anthem is sung this atmosphere of complete support and whole-hearted unity is created:

(translated into English)

God bless Africa
Raise high its glory
Hear our prayers
God bless us, her children
From the blue of our heaven,
From the depth of our sea,
Over our everlasting mountains,
Where the echoing cliffs resound,
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom
In South Africa our land.

Words can be remembered forever.

I’m almost sure as Neil Armstrong was standing on the moon he didn’t think that his words would be remembered and repeated years later… 

“This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

I’m sure Nelson Mandela didn’t realize the legacy he was leaving as he endured those 27 years in prison. And as he was released on the 11th February 1990, I wonder if he understood that his words were declaring freedom for generations to come:
“During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

There are others like Sir Winston Churchill who, as a young army officer and then later as British Prime Minister said:
"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

And Gandhi who, while fighting for equality of the individual and the independence of India, stated:
"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

There are still the likes of Shakespeare, Einstein, Aristotle, Mark Twain, Benjamin Franklin and so many more who have stood for something and changed this world through the simplicity of words spoken or written.

We have all experienced how words can kill enthusiasm, impact self-esteem, lower expectations and hold people back. Well chosen ones can motivate, offer hope, create vision, impact thinking and alter results. I have learned that my words have power over my thoughts and actions. They also impact and influence people I speak them to.
In the words of Pearl Strachan: "Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs."

If words can change this world, then lets choose each word as if it mattered.

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