Becoming a leader takes more than intelligence, hard work, and focus. Successful leaders learn early in their careers that language is the key to unlocking their aspirations and turning their dreams into reality. Most biographies of successful leaders focus on their inspirational ideas, but few take the time to recognize the importance using language in driving results.
While open and uplifting language works well when introducing new ideas and inspiring a crowd, that same language can serve as a barrier to success when making those aspirations a reality.
Read more about the 5 Phrases Successful Leaders Never Use:
“I hope to”
Hope is the very epitome of inspirational language. Along with “dream,” it is the mainstay of American politics. Unfortunately, the same word conveys a sense of doubt when pushing a project to completion. If one of your team members says, “I hope I finish by Monday,” you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it won’t be anywhere near finished when the deadline rolls around. Hope is not a plan. It takes a plan to drive results.
The word “try”, like hope, wreaks of failure and failed promises. “I’ll try harder next time,” is no substitute for “Next time, I’ll win.” While effort is important, successful leaders don’t try to win, they’ve already won in their mind’s eye. Words that focus on effort over results invariably fall short of success and send hard working people down the path to second place.
“Do you want me to do this or that”
The word “or” almost always signifies a false choice. As in “I’ll be a go to graduate school or I’ll start working.” Successful people think in terms of “and,” as in “I’ll start working and go to graduate school.” For successful people “and” means more; more money, more success, more happiness. Rather than making life a series of trade-offs, do more with your life by adding one opportunity to the next.
“I should have”
“Should” is a word most often connected with broken promises, as in “I should finish my homework.” The word “should” never won any races or built any empires. It is a word filled with bitterness and regret. Sooner or later, the days of “should” change to the days of “should have” as in, “I should have finished school,” or “I should have spent more time with my family.” Don’t let your future slip away by thinking about what you should have done. Seize the moment. Do it now.
When we say we understand, we cease to explore. We let others know that we need no further information to make a decision, when nothing could be further from the truth. Knowledge is never a finite activity. While everyone has to make decisions based on incomplete understanding, continually searching for more knowledge is the difference between growth and stagnation.
Language is an important part of success because we measure our success through stories. Whether it’s the stories we tell ourselves when setting off on a new venture or the stories we tell others through our biographies, how we see the world is framed by the words we use. When an Olympic swimmer is preparing for a race, he’s not thinking how hard he’s going to try or what training he should have done. He’s thinking that he has already won the race and sees himself in his mind’s eye as crossing the finish line in first place.