Monthly Archives: April 2012

Change your Language, Change the Game

There was a great story this morning on NPR about a psychologist, Dr. James Pennebaker, who studies the power of language. Specifically, the power of function words, such as pronouns.

Using a computer program, Pennebaker can predict patterns related to successful dating, facts about people’s social status, whether they are lying, high-power people, etc.

Pennebaker argues that words reflect subtleties about who we really are. Things that we, ourselves, may not even be conscious of.

So the question is, if we change our language, can we transform ourselves and transform our results?

Pennebaker would argue no, but decades of research in social psychology and communication studies would say, yes.

Here’s an example. In coaching conversations, coaches pay close attention to the words that clients use to describe their situation (e.g., “I really should be making more money.”).

The coach could then respond with any number of questions: Should you? Really? Then what’s stopping you from getting paid more? What are you willing to change in order to earn more? Who says that you should be earning more? Is it that you’re entitled to more or that you simplywantmore?

All these question stemming from one simple language observation about how a person uses the word should and what that word implies or others: Want, need, desire, will, etc.

Bottom line: If you want to change the game for yourself, pay attention to your language and change the words that aren’t serving you well.


Hard Work? Take it One Push-Up at a Time

My best friend, Dr. Joe Fanning, founder of Working to Wellness, sent me a text message last Friday:

“Need to start having a contest with me. First to 100 push-ups a day everyday texts 100 to other. Must do all push-ups other one does. If you miss you owe double.”

Neither contestant texted on Saturday. But on Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m., I had the thrill of texting “100” to Dr. Joe…Boo-yah!

The push-up is a metaphor for hard work. How do you get hard work done? One push-up at a time. It won’t take as long as you think. It never does. Don’t procrastinate.

As you get stronger,  you can start packaging hard work into sets of 5, 10, 15, or 25 repetitions. That’s how you get hard work done.

Coaching: The Product is in the Process

Everyday Americans spend millions of dollars on products that they think will bring them happiness and health. Px90, the Belly Burner, the Original Quickchop, the Trendy Top, Eggies, the Fat Magnet, and the list goes on. You’ve seen the commercials…but wait, there’s more!

These products are short-lived substitutes for true happiness and well-being, and acquiring them requires very little effort…usually a Visa or MasterCard will suffice.

These products sell because they promise quick results: health, beauty, confidence. But no matter how many of these products that one seeks, they won’t deliver the results that most of us truly desire.

It’s a sad state of affairs, but the majority of Americans would rather spend three payments of $29.99 on a product that won’t bring them happiness, than on a process that will. Why? Because vital, generative processes like coaching require effort, brutal honesty with one’s self, intentionality, and commitment. Concepts that send most people running for their Snuggie!

Unlike “cure-all” products, vital processes like coaching help you produce the things you really want out of life: a better career, more effective relationships, self-mastery, improved health, an enjoyable social life, and sustainable overall well-being.

But buyer beware: processes like coaching don’t come in a neat little package with a 30-day money back guarantee. Although there usually is no fee for shipping and handling.

Commitment to a coaching process is an investment in becoming your best self. You are the product that emerges out of the coaching process.

Through learning, expanding your self-awareness, tapping your inner wisdom and deeply rooted desire to flourish, you become the “product” that so many seek through external means. Then and only then can you truly appreciate the fact that the product is in the process.