Words matter. They lift us up or drag us down-if we let them. Things we say habitually affect people either positively or negatively. It doesn't cost anything to be nice, or upbeat, or positive. Sometimes, with the right positive phrase, at the right time, with the right person, we can change someone's life forever.
Frank Deford's is one of the most respected Sports Writers in this country. In his new best selling book, OVER TIME, a chronology of 50 storied years of reporting, he reflects on exactly who had the biggest impact on his extraordinary writing career. It was his high school English teacher. The teacher told Frank that an essay he had written was the finest thing he had ever read written by a student. Frank recalls, "In fifty years, it was the nicest (and most inspiring) thing anyone ever said to me." Words matter.
I recently met international speaker and author David Jackson in Sydney. He is special: unique, hilarious, and a great teacher. His teaching style is very different and a bit confrontational, a lot like my late publisher and mentor, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones. It's no surprise David and Charlie were good friends; they were birds of a feather. Within a few minutes of introducing myself to David, he asked me, "On a scale of one to ten, how are you?" I smiled and replied, "David, I am an eight!" He glared at me, put his head on my shoulder and smiled in silence. Then he growled. He looked up and said, "Wrong answer." Stunned, I looked back at him, waiting for the other shoe to drop. "You are a ten. Say it." So I did. "Louder," he commanded. "I am a ten!!"
He stood up straight, threw his shoulders back and shouted, "Louder!" "I am a ten!!!" "Again," he shouted. "I am a ten!!!!" Smiling, he whispered, "NOW how do you feel?" I smiled, "Much better, just like a ten feels." Words matter.
It was a magic phrase. I AM a 10! That five-minute conversation changed my attitude, physiology, mood, and confidence. It occurred to me, I can do that for myself anytime I want to. We can change how we feel, anytime in an instant.
What other magic phrases and formulas could I pull up from 30 years of research into peak performance? Here is a short list of seven ways to change how you feel and perform:
- Make a Gratitude List of all the people, things, and circumstances in your life that make you feel great.
- Flick back on a Big Win. Go back and remember a past success, re-feel it, let it feed your soul and bolster your confidence. I only have to remember my last standing ovation to make myself smile.
- Flick up to a future success. Visualize a successful future event: closing a big sale, watching your son or daughter score the winning basket, finishing the project on time or under budget.
- Find a friend or colleague and ask them about a recent success they have had. When they tell you about the details, listen intently, smile, pause and say "Good for you! Way to go. You deserve it!" Watch their response.
- Contact an old coach or teacher, sibling, parent, or mentor and tell them how much they have meant to you. Better yet, write them a letter entitled, "Five Great Things I Got from You!" It will change their life. Moreover, it will change yours.
- Observe people-strangers in your community-at the coffee shop, the gym, at church. When you see something about them you admire, simply say, "I really respect (or admire) how much you (love your kids) or (are committed to working out) or (love what you do). The response is extraordinary. Get in the habit of becoming a GOOD-Finder.
- When someone asks how you are doing, try saying something other than, "Not bad." How about: "Fantastic" or "Awesome" or "Better than good!" or "I am a ten!!!!" They will be taken aback.
Here are some phrases to try out for the next 30 days. That's how long it takes to form a new habit. Test them for yourself and calibrate the response.
- "Man, you are good at what you do!"
- "You have an uncommon gift for making a difference in people's lives."
William James, the father of American psychology, wrote, "The deepest craving in the human condition is the need to be appreciated."
I need to write David Jackson a thank-you note and tell him because of him, "I am a 10!!!!!" Guess what? So are you! "You rock!"
Frank Deford ran into Bobby Knight and his wife one day in Manhattan. Deford had done a piece on Coach Knight for REAL SPORTS on HBO. It was objective, presented both sides, and was, in the main, flattering. When Coach Knight introduced Frank to his wife, she said, "With friends like him, you don't need enemies." Whether positive or negative, Words Matter.
The date, times, and location are set for our upcoming "Info-Entrepreneurs Summit" with 3-Best Selling Authors and Speakers: Mark Matteson (Presentation Skills), Patrick Snow (Book Publishing), and Kevin Knebl (Social Media). Mark your calendar for October 19, 20, 2012 in Edmonds, Washington. This event will sell out quickly to the first 100 people to sign up. Send an email for details
One of the great things about my job is sharing the stage with some very interesting and talented people. I had the privilege of hearing the brilliant comedian Sebastian Maniscalco at the Bacara Resort in Santa Barbara, California. He is an uncommonly gifted physical comedian with bits about dogs, his father, long lines in the grocery store, and how the nightclub scene has changed. After his gig, we chatted for 20 minutes about his career, his style, and his gift for observing people. His use of pauses, voices, interactions and improvisations with the audience, as well as his physical comedy, make him unique. He is a rapidly rising star whose future is bright indeed. I mentioned that perhaps it was time for him to write a book.
The next morning, I introduced him to my book publishing mentor, Dan Poynter, at breakfast. Watch for Sebastian Maniscalco to appear on Showtime. You can expect him to land a sitcom in the future. Although he is a gifted comedian, off-stage he is humble, kind, and hungry to improve.
To watch a short video of him on George Lopez's late-night TV show, click the link below: