Your Words Blaze a Trail

         PART 2

Watch Your Words

Repeat anything often enough and it will start to become you.

— Tom Hopkins

          LESSON 6

Your Words Blaze a Trail

The words you consistently select will shape your destiny.

— Anthony Robbins

When was the last time you seriously thought about the words you use each and every day? How carefully do you select them?

   Now, you might be thinking, “Jeff, why all this fuss about words? What’s the big deal?” The answer is simple. Your words have incredible power. They can build a bright future, destroy opportunity or help maintain the status quo. Your words reinforce your beliefs... and your beliefs create your reality.

Think of this process as a row of dominos that looks like this:


    Here’s how it works. Tom has a THOUGHT, such as “I’m not very good when it comes to sales.” Now, let’s remember that he doesn’t have this thought only once. Oh, no. He’s run it through his mind on a regular basis, maybe hundreds or thousands of times in his life!

   Then, Tom starts to use WORDS that support this thought. He says to his friends and colleagues, “I’m never going to do very well in sales” or “I just hate making sales calls or approaching prospects.” Here again, Tom repeats these phrases over and over... in his self-talk and in his discussions with others.

   This, in turn, strengthens his BELIEFS — and it’s at this stage where the rubber really meets the road. You see, everything that you’ll achieve in your life flows from your beliefs. So, in our sales example, Tom develops the belief that he’s not going to be successful in sales and that he won’t earn much money. This becomes embedded in his subconscious mind.

   What can possibly flow from that belief? Because Tom doesn’t believe in his sales ability, he takes very little ACTION, or he takes actions that aren’t productive. He doesn’t do the things that would be necessary to succeed in sales.

   And then, quite predictably, Tom gets very poor RESULTS.

   To make matters worse, Tom then starts to think more negative thoughts... repeat more negative words... reinforce negative beliefs... and get even more negative results. It’s a vicious cycle!

Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. 

— Rudyard Kipling

   Of course, this whole process could have had a very happy ending if Tom had selected positive THOUGHTS... and reinforced them with positive WORDS. In turn, he’d reinforce the BELIEF that he’s successful in sales. As a result, Tom would take the ACTIONS consistent with that belief... and wind up with outstanding RESULTS.

   My point is don’t underestimate the role of your WORDS in this process. People who feed themselves a steady diet of negative words are destined to have a negative attitude. It’s a simple matter of cause and effect. You can’t keep repeating negative words and expect to be a high achiever. And that’s because negative words will always lead to the reinforcement of negative beliefs — and eventually to negative outcomes.

Why You Don’t Want Me To Fix Anything In Your Home

When it comes to home repairs, I’m lost. You want me to replace a faucet or fix something in the toilet tank? I’d have a better chance of reaching the top of Mount Everest. Carpentry or electrical wiring? I haven’t got a clue. You want to know my ultimate Achilles heel? It’s those instruction sheets that explain how to assemble something that you’ve just taken out of the box. You know what I mean —those black and white booklets with references to “Figure 10A” that show you (or claim to show you!) where all the nuts and bolts go... and how all the parts fit together.

   Instruction sheets have the same affect on me as kryptonite had on Superman. If you recall the old Superman programs, the villain would shoot bullets at Superman —and the bullets bounced off his chest harmlessly. But there was one substance that Superman could not defend against— kryptonite. Whenever the bad guy held up a piece of kryptonite, Superman got wobbly and began to lose his power.

   Well, when I see an instruction sheet, I get weak in the knees and lose my power. I just know it’s useless for me to even look at it. There’s no way I’m going to understand it. So I put down the instructions and yell for Dolores to come in and show me what to do. For Dolores, it’s a piece of cake.

   How did it come to this? I don’t claim to be the smartest guy in the world, but I consider myself to be reasonably intelligent. Am I missing some gene for home repair skills that other people were given? No, that’s not it, either.

   The answer is quite obvious. For the last 40 years, I have repeatedly said, “I’m no good at mechanical things” and “I can’t fix anything.” And, lo and behold, after 40 years of using negative words, I’ve developed a strong belief that I can’t do these things.

    Do you see how I created this situation by not being careful about the words I used? And, the truth is I could eventually reverse this trend if I’d start using positive words about my ability to make repairs.

Scientist’s Words Are Worth Looking At 

Years ago, I read an article about Kent Cullers, a scientist who headed NASA’s Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence project. Cullers, who has a doctorate in physics, was developing software that searches for radio signals indicating the presence of other life forms in the universe.

   Sounds a little like Star Trek, doesn’t it? But make no mistake about it, this is some pretty technical scientific research.

   And yet, Cullers has a physical challenge to contend with. Let me tell you how he describes it. He refers to his condition as “a trivial affliction” and “just barely an inconvenience.” What is Cullers’ particular physical challenge? A touch of arthritis? Or an occasional migraine headache?

In words are seen the state of mind, character and disposition of the speaker.

— Plutarch

   Kent Cullers is blind. That’s right... he’s blind. Isn’t it incredible that someone can describe blindness as “a trivial affliction” or “just barely an inconvenience”?

   By using these words, Kent Cullers is empowering himself to achieve great things. He doesn’t give any power to his limitations and, as a result, he is able to transcend them and accomplish more than those who have their sight.

   What obstacles are you facing in your life right now? Imagine the power you could unleash if you saw them as “just barely an inconvenience” instead of as an insurmountable barrier.

To Tell... Or Not To Tell

When I speak about the importance of using positive language to move you toward your goals, some of you may be wondering, “Jeff, do I say these positive words to myself or do I also say these words to other people?” You may be afraid that if you tell others about your goals, they’ll think you’re being conceited — and they may even laugh at you.

   Allow me to suggest a few guidelines in this area, with the understanding that there are no “hard and fast” rules —and you should do what works best for you.

   To begin with, use positive self-talk as often as possible. In my view, the more the merrier. After all, you’re talking to yourself, so you don’t have to worry about others hearing your comments. The key is that you hear this positive input again and again... and it becomes deeply rooted in your subconscious mind.

   Whether to share your goals with other people is a much trickier issue. One thing I’ve learned is this: Never discuss your goals with negative people. All they’ll do is argue and point out all the reasons why you won’t be successful. Who needs that? Often, these “negative nellies” are the ones who do little or nothing in their own lives. They have no goals or dreams — and they don’t want anyone else to succeed, either.

   Yet, there are some instances when you can benefit by telling others about your goals. First of all, make sure that you’re speaking with someone who’s extremely positive and totally supportive of your efforts. This should be the kind of person who would be absolutely delighted if you achieved this goal... and would do anything in his or her power to assist you. You may have a friend or colleague that fits this role — or certain family members.

   It’s also important to share your goals with others who are working with you to achieve that outcome. For example, if a sales manager wants to increase sales in the coming year by 20 percent, he or she would make this goal known to everyone on the staff. Then, everyone can work together to achieve it.

   Even though I’m encouraging you to use positive words to move you toward your objectives, I’m not suggesting that you ignore the obstacles that you may face — or that you discourage feedback from other people. Before embarking on any goal, you want to prepare for what may be coming down the road. Personally, I prefer to discuss those issues with someone who is positive... someone whose feedback includes creative solutions to the difficulties that may arise.

    Furthermore, I’ll only discuss my plans with people who are qualified to render an intelligent opinion on the subject. If you’re thinking of going into your own business, it simply makes no sense to consult with your Uncle Elmer, especially if Uncle Elmer is negative and worked for someone else all of his life. What does he know about owning a business? He’ll give you a list of reasons NOT to go into business for yourself. After your little chat with Uncle Elmer, you’ll start to doubt yourself. You don’t need that kind of help!

Words And Accountability

There’s another reason why, in some cases, you might decide to share your goal with someone else. And that’s for accountability. In other words, if I tell others I’m going to do something, then I have to go ahead and do it! Think of this approach as “burning your bridges.”

   Let me assure you I’m not a believer in “burning bridges” when it comes to personal or business relationships. But sometimes the only way to move forward in life — and to achieve an ambitious goal — is to cut off all avenues of retreat.

   This can be a very useful strategy. We may tell a friend that we’re going to work out at the gym three times this week — knowing that at the end of the week, this friend will ask whether we did, in fact, go to the gym three times!

   An even more dramatic example is that of well-known motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. Ziglar decided to go on a diet and reduce his weight from 202 pounds to 165 pounds. At the same time, he was writing his book See You At The Top.

The people who always talk about a lack of money generally don t accumulate much of it.

— Jeff Keller

   In the book, Ziglar included a statement that he got his weight down to 165 pounds. This was 10 months before the book went to press. And then he placed an order with the printer for 25,000 copies! Now, remember, at the time he wrote these words, Ziglar actually weighed 202. He put his credibility on the line with 25,000 people!

   By including a statement that he weighed 165 pounds, Ziglar knew that he had to lose 37 pounds before the book was printed. And, he did!

   Use this strategy selectively. Limit it to those goals that are very important to you — and where you’re committed to go the distance. Is it risky? You bet it is. But it’s a tremendous motivator!

Words And Emotions

In his best-selling book Awaken the Giant Within, Anthony Robbins devotes an entire chapter to the way in which our vocabulary affects our emotions, our beliefs and our effectiveness in life. I don’t agree with all of Robbins’ philosophies, but his observations about the power of words are right on the mark. Robbins is keenly aware of how certain words impact our emotional intensity.

   For instance, let’s say that someone has lied to you. You could react by saying that you’re “angry” or “upset.” If, however, you used the words “furious,” “livid” or “enraged,” your physiology and your subsequent behavior would be dramatically altered. Your blood pressure would rise. Your face would turn beet red. You’d feel tense all over.

   On the other hand, what if you characterized the situation as “annoying” or said that you were “peeved”? This lowers your emotional intensity considerably. In fact, saying that you are “peeved,” explains Robbins, will probably make you laugh — and break the negative emotional cycle completely. You’d be much more relaxed.

Choose words that will point you in the direction of your goals.

— Jeff Keller

   Robbins gives other examples of how you can lower the intensity of negative emotions. Imagine, for instance, replacing “I’ve been destroyed” with “I’ve been set back”... or using the phrase “I prefer” instead of “I hate.” Of course, you can also intentionally select words to heighten positive emotions. Instead of saying “I’m determined,” why not say “I’m unstoppable!” Or, in place of declaring that you “feel okay,” try “I feel phenomenal!” or “I feel just tremendous!”

   Juicy, exciting words like that lift your spirits to a higher level and profoundly influence those around you. When you consciously decide to use such terms, you’re actually choosing to change the path on which you’ve been traveling. Others will respond to you differently and you’ll alter your perception of yourself, as well.

A Closer Look At Your Words

Let’s take a look at your life for a moment. Are there any areas where you’ve been using phrases like “I can’t,” “I’m no good at ____” and “It’s impossible”? We all know people who make statements like these:

I can’t draw.

I’m no good at math.

I can’t remember names.

It’s impossible for me to make that kind of money.

   When you make these comments day in and day out for 10, 20 or 30 years, you’re programming your mind for failure! It all comes back to your attitude. Every one of these examples reflects a negative attitude. And if you see the world through a smudged window, you’re going to use negative language... and get disappointing results.

   Fortunately, you can control your words — which means that you have the ability to build a positive belief system... and to produce the results you want. The first step is awareness. Let’s examine the phrases you’ve been using in four key areas of your life — relationships, finances, career and health.

1. Relationships

Do you say things like “All the good men (or women) are taken!” or “People are always taking advantage of me!” If you do, you’re literally programming yourself for unhappy relationships. Your mind hears every word you speak and it sets out to prove you right. With regard to our above examples, your mind will see to it that you attract only those persons who will disappoint you or take advantage of you. Is this what you want? If not, stop repeating (and causing your mind to focus on) such negative statements!

2. Finances

What words do you use on a regular basis to describe your current financial situation and your prospects for the future? Phrases such as “I’m always in debt,” “The economy is lousy” or “No one is buying” work against you. Far better to choose language which reaffirms prosperity and better economic times. Of course, you won’t necessarily have abundant wealth within a few days after changing the way you speak. But the physical conditions can change only after your beliefs have altered. Clearing up your language is an important first step!

   After all, the people with wealth in this world didn’t get that way by moaning about being in poverty. And the people who always talk about a lack of money generally don’t accumulate much of it.

3. Career

If I were to ask you about your career prospects over the next five to 10 years, how would you respond? Be honest. Would you say that things will probably remain the same as they are now? Or would you describe a higher position with more challenges, more responsibilities and increased financial rewards? If you respond “I don’t know where I’m going in my career,” chances are not much will change. Your language reflects your lack of vision and direction. If, on the other hand, you have a clear goal which you can (and do) articulate fairly often — even if only to yourself — you stand an excellent chance of reaching that goal.

   The same, of course, holds true if you have your own business. Do you use language that is consistent with the growth of your business? Or do you constantly talk about how you’ll never get to the next level?

4. Health

Without question, our words have a profound impact on our health. For example, imagine that a group of us sat down to what seemed to be a perfectly wholesome and delicious meal. Then, two hours later I called and told you that every person who ate with us had been rushed to the hospital and treated for food poisoning! Suppose that you felt perfectly fine before I called. How would you react after hearing my information?

   Most likely, you’d clutch your stomach, get pale and feel very ill. Why? Because my words instilled a belief in you which, in turn, your body started acting upon. This same bodily reaction would have occurred even if I was playing a cruel joke and was lying about the whole situation! Your body responds to words it hears you and other people say. That’s why it makes absolutely no sense to keep repeating that you have “chronic back pain that will never go away” or that you get “three or four bad colds every year.” By uttering these statements, you are actually instructing your body to manifest pain and disease!

   Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not suggesting that you deny pain or disease — or that you can overcome any illness — but there’s certainly nothing to be gained (and much harm that can flow) from using language that reinforces suffering and incurability.

You Have A Choice

Well, have you thought about the words you use in these four areas of your life? When we repeat certain phrases over and over, it’s as if a “groove” is formed in our brain. We keep replaying the same old refrain in our heads like a broken record. The trouble is, whenever you say these words you just deepen the groove, replaying the same old myths in your mind, strengthening the same old beliefs...and getting the same old results.

   Recognize, however, that just because you’ve said things in the past there’s no reason to blindly continue doing so. While it takes some discipline and vigilance on your part to make changes in your language, it’s well worth the effort! So, from now on, consciously choose words that will point you in the direction of your goals. Ask a friend to remind you when you slip.

    Remember, it’s up to you to speak in a way that will move you toward what you want in life. Therefore, use words that are consistent with the path you truly wish to be on... take action along those lines... and watch yourself begin to travel in that wonderful direction!


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