Words are powerful. What we say and how we say it can make a powerful impact on the people we love and lead—even on the people we may only experience in a passing moment.
Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and author of The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. Zander says, “The conductor of an orchestra doesn’t make a sound. He depends, for his power, on his ability to make other people powerful.”
Every day we have opportunities to play the role of a conductor. Unlike Zander as the conductor of an orchestra, we will use words—words with underestimated power and influence.
In an incredible TEDTalk, Zander shares the personal story of a woman that embolden the impact of the spoken word.
At the age of 15, the woman and her eight-year-old brother had been separated from their parents in Nazi Germany. Hands joined together they were loaded onto a train that would take them to the concentration camp in Auschwitz.
As they are riding along, she looked down and noticed her brother’s shoes were missing. Like so many times before she took on the role of an older sister. “For goodness sakes,” she said indignantly, “Can’t you keep your things together.” And looked away in disgust.
She had no idea these would be the last words she would speak to her brother. After arriving at Auschwitz, they were separated—she never saw him again.
She survived the horrifying ordeal and when she walked out of Auschwitz into life she made a vow, “I will never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing I ever say.”
Ponder this vow for a moment and you realize the magnitude of your words. What if you adopted this mantra—how would your approach to people change if what you were about to say were the last words you ever shared with them?
We can’t be reminded enough that we grossly underestimate two things:
- How deeply those around us are hurting and struggling.
- The awesome power of a timely word of encouragement.
The words you are going to speak today are going to land in someone’s life. They may be simple words spoken without much thought or care, but if they were the last thing (maybe the only thing) you said what impact would they have? What would they say about you?
Your perspective on encouragement changes if you embrace the fact that your greatest opportunities for impact are not in the past, nor are they in the future. Your impact time is right now.
The fact is when we don’t think about what we say and how we say it we have completely underestimated the power of encouragement.
Cling tightly to those who encourage you—they will help you break through the walls and resistance that stop most people from realizing the magnitude of impact they possess.