I’m a word guy. It all started when I was about 8 or 10. I was on the bus and saw a poster for the move Billy Jack. It said, the movie would emulate the runaway success of Walking Tall. I had no idea what emulate meant so I went home to look it up. When I read the definition I realized why imitate, though it could have worked in that poster, was not the word for the job.
Last week, on election night, the play-by-play announcers kept referring to various states as “bellwether” states, which means, essentially, as they go others will follow but I wondered how many of them knew the origin of the word. The bellwether is the castrated goat with a bell around his neck that leads the flock. Can you imagine Stephanopoulos saying, “Florida is like the castrated goat here, ringing a bell for other states to follow.”
Words are really important in terms of matching moods too. If you refer to incidents in catastrophic language, two things happen. First, people tend to disbelieve you over time (The sky is falling!) and second you can infuse too much emotion in to a minor issue. This happens within and without. Overstating a problem with a group gets everyone wound up and focused, perhaps, in the wrong direction. This is especially true for people in leadership positions.
Within us, the words we use change everything. For example, when something annoys you, if you start using language, overstating how grievous the annoyance is, you will blow it out of proportion. If on the other hand instead of saying “I AM REALLY, REALLY, PISSED OFF AT THIS!!! You consciously tempered your internal dialog and said, “This has me a bit annoyed” You would actually take some of the power away from the issue.
2016 Motto: Notice what’s good and raise a flag over it