Language we use with others, and with ourselves, impacts how we approach and how we perceive every situation.
We sat down with Aileron President, Joni Fedders, to talk about how we can consciously use word choices that help us reframe our thoughts and associated feelings, behaviors, and outcomes, to lead us to greater success.
Being Mindful About Our Words
Generally speaking, words can either help us handle a situation in a way that benefits us—or words can hurt our ability to act. To start adopting more positive affirmations throughout our lives, the first step is to become more aware of the way we are talking to ourselves and to others.
“Start by being very conscious about the way you’re thinking, and how you frame those thoughts,” explains Joni.
“One example is instead of saying, ‘I want to,’ we can say, ‘I am.’ ‘I want to quit smoking’ is not as powerful as saying, ‘I am smoke-free.’ The shift is from something ‘I am not’ to something ‘I am.’ It helps immediately increase your energy because your thoughts can come from the desired state instead of it being something you aspire to be. If I am smoke free I have immediate choices to live out today to make that true.
Try it with something you want to do: I want to become a better mother, leader, son. I want to lose weight, exercise more, be more organized.
- I am a good mother, leader, son.
- I am a healthy eater.
- I am an active and physically fit person.
- I am organized.
How does this simple shift change your perspective and energy? If I “am” a good leader then it is mine to keep, not try to gain. When confronted with a situation, you can ask yourself, “How would a good leader handle this?” It doesn’t make the change any easier, since it is a difficult change to quit smoking, however it does allow you to feel the desired state immediately. If you are smoke free, what does your next choice look like in your day? This empowers you from a different place.
A manager who participated in Aileron’s 1 Day Professional Management Workshop shared with the group a simple word change: Instead of asking himself, “What could a sound vision and mission do for me in my job?”, the question was stronger when he asked himself, “What does a sound vision and mission do for me in my job?”
Other examples of a powerful, one-word change include:
- “I want to” vs. “I am” (more empowering)
- “I will be” vs. “I am” (more empowering)
- “I should” vs. “I want to” (more empowering)
- “I have to” vs. “I want to” (more empowering)
Change Your Language to Change Your Mindset
Even the smallest shift towards a more action-oriented and/or positive affirmation can have immediate effects on one’s energy, outlook, and sense of control.
“As leaders, we can shift the energy in our environment when we use these kinds of powerful, empowering words,” says Joni. “After all, we are human beings, and not human doers. Instead of being a human doing, conscious selection of our words can help us frame phrases in a way where we are being.”
Journaling and sharing thoughts and feelings with peers or a business coach can also be extremely effective in getting you to “hear” the language you’re consistently using. “You can hear back what you just said, which is called acknowledging. The process will get you to listen to what you’re actually saying.”
Become a More Conscious Leader
For those looking to improve their leadership skills—including self-management, decision-making, and the ability to suspend judgement—you can now register for the hands-on journey, Becoming a More Conscious Leader. The program features 8 full day workshops and 7 online sessions where you’ll be side-by-side with your peers. You’ll also have an accountability partner throughout your journey. Come away from the immersive journey with more energy, creativity, productivity, and satisfaction in your life.
A version of this post originally appeared on Forbes.com.