The power of a word

There you are, standing in front of the people you only hear about, whose names you see in publications, guru’s in your field… The presentation you have worked and re-worked ready to go, the speakers before you were confident and passionate. Now a cold sweat washes over you. You think to smile, press the button and talk S-L-O-W-L-Y but that is all you have, those three thoughts.

And then you are done, you smile wanly and make your way back to your panel chair. The supportive comments from your co-presenters are very positive, but surely they are just saying it because you all hope to work together and that will require a level of kindness. You are left not really knowing the quality of your presentation or how well your message was received. You are left trying not to pick apart your performance because you really were not in the moment but rather the process and they look very different.

Then the woman who you trust most to provide honest feedback sits next to you and tells you it was great, that you were poised and measured and while you didn’t have very much to say, you said it beautifully and linked it in very well. You know this is a woman who does not worry about your feelings when she gives you feedback. She cares most about presenting information in the most honest light. So you feel successful, over joyed, delighted! You did great! And all of a sudden this presentation seems very much like any other you have given. This was a success and so you now have a win in your memory banks to allay the fear that will try to seep into your consciousness before the next public sharing of your work.

Words. They can allay fears, celebrate successes, point out flaws. They can inspire, move to action and completely defeat you. In my experience the defeat typically comes when you are not guarding your own words. But inspiration and calls to action can come from any where!

Passion, love, inspiration…

I remember a dear friend telling me that I was meant for more. I believed that, but I had not really focused on my discontent in an action-oriented way before hearing those words. But this resonated with me, the idea I was capable of more and could contribute in a way that would better fit how I want to be in this world. So I left my job, enrolled in University and followed my dream. A dream I am fortunate enough to now be living.

Another friend of mine was living day in and day out in a very gray sort of way. He was experiencing depression and confusion following a break up, he was not inspired by his work, and he was lonely on the other side of Australia. He reflected back to me, on a different path, that my words then had resonated with him and he took those words, gave them momentum and acted to change his whole life. Those words were “you were not meant for a mediocre life, you are here for so much more”. He has traveled the globe since then, modeled, began a technology start up business and is now moving to San Francisco following investment in his idea. I am inspired by his belief in himself and the way he transformed his life. I am humbled that I helped plant a seed that he nurtured to fruition.

The power of a word. It seems that the power of a word is exponentially multiplied by trust that the person sharing their word has no agenda but to let you know what they see. Without expectation of you performing. Just their honest reflection. Given to help you see what is hard for you to see when you are caught up in the process of life.

I am sure there are moments in your own life where someone has remarked to you something about possibility that inspired you. Or maybe the words were said and you missed their meaning because you were bogged down in the process of life. Maybe you missed it because you couldn’t see how you could possibly live up to the greatness they saw in you.

I would like to challenge you to share your honest reflections. It doesn’t have to be coloured with expectation. Just an open, loving, sharing to let someone know what you see. It might affirm them, it might give them fuel to make a big change they were already contemplating. It might break them out of defeating themselves. It might just change their lives for the better. Better still, I challenge you to listen for the words of others that might just do the same for you.

“There is an eternal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives.”  ~Josephine Hart

The H word

There comes a time, that while you like to think you can do it all, by yourself, that you start to realise that maybe you need a hand.

Asking for help is a natural thing. It seems it should be the easiest thing in the world to do. But I will push on, putting off a request that will stop the ever rapidly reducing impact on my lifespan that stress and anxiety has, until I am literally falling apart. When the chest pain starts, the tears flow too easily, the self imposed pressure to be perfect thickens the air and breathing becomes difficult…

And then I ask. I ask for help from work colleagues on that team project, I ask for help at home, I call on my friends, read a poignant book and lo and behold I can breathe freely! My chest is not so tight, the air no longer feels thick, I feel balance is restored and my brain functions the way I am used to. I begin telling jokes, bouncing around the house and serenading my love with made up songs. My sense of humour returns and so does my ready smile.

I once read somewhere that there is grace in asking for help. I certainly think so, particularly in contrast to the state you can wind up in while you are holding out. Especially when you are not asking for help because you think you have to be perfect without it. Because you think people will think less of you if you have to ask for clarification, support or input. Especially when what you produce is enriched by the input you receive when asking for help. When your creativity is inspired or your intellect fully engaged by the input from those you asked for help.

Help is not a dirty word. And it should never be perceived as such, not by the most proud perfectionist (read- anxiety ridden perfectionist) or anyone hoping to get by in a happy whole way. Help is how we multiply energy, answer tricky questions, generate passion in the things that we do and share the joy of any process. The H word has now found a happy home in my vocabulary.


“The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Open the window

Floating along
breathe in the air
calm and center
go on I dare you 
to calm yourself

Open the window
relax your mind
let everything go
be gentle, be kind
you still have a long way to go

Energy you need
clarity too
if you are going
to impact
the way you want to

Bring back your humour
curiosity and patience
apply them to you first
then all other spaces
and joy will return

See your critics eye
return from it’s slumber
applied with finesse
you no longer blunder
a tighter ship sails

The work you spread
is full of good uses
all who hear of it
are happy for a new tool
and you have achieved your end goal

“The time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.”  ~Attributed to both Jim Goodwin and Sydney J. Harris