I am finally doing it! I am slowly jogging my way into the elite club of people who call themselves runners. For years, I convinced myself that I could not run. Touted every reason why it was not possible for me – too many years playing netball and basketball on hard concrete surfaces in Trinidad, shin splints, twisted ankles, and knee pain etc. etc…. Then in June of 2013, I went on a walk/run with a colleague and began my litany of excuses for not running. “You are a runner!” she said. For some reason, the words clicked. I began thinking to myself, “Maybe, she IS right!” I came back from that encounter convinced to turn my walking routine into a running routine. And on the morning of August 8, 2013, for the first time—I ran, and ran, and ran for four miles with only two short walking breaks. (Small disclaimer here, I must admit that it was more of a turtely kind of run). But who cares! Wahoo!
Since then I have not stopped running–no short breaks needed!!
Now, I keep thinking about those four words that Beth uttered to me and the magic they contained. Her timing could not have been better. We were attending the Women in Leadership Affinity Group Inaugural Conference in Pacific Grove, California. In several of the sessions, one common theme emerged from research of women who had risen to leadership positions in their various contexts. Though they had not aspired to leadership positions themselves, someone had spoken those words of affirmation to them: “You are a Leader!” That was the final ingredient added to the potion that unlocked their leadership potential.
In the book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz captures well the efficacy of words in the first agreement: “Be impeccable with your word.” Though some of the mysticism expressed in this book escapes me, I recognize a good idea when I see one. Ruiz (1997) writes that words are magical; they can cast good spells and bad spells. I have been the victim of the “black magic” cast by words. I was about sixteen at the time when after failing to sing a note pitched by the pianist, he declared that I was “tone deaf”. Ouch! Since then several others have suggested that I have a beautiful voice that should be cultivated, yet it is difficult to escape the enchantment of those early words.
On the other hand, I have also been the recipient of “good spells” cast by words. My elementary school teacher convinced me that I was a great writer; my British Virgin Islands mentor told me that one day I would be able to write the letters Ph.D. after my name; and the words of my friend Beth continue to inspire me to keep on running. I am so grateful for those magical words!
Each of us has the capacity to not only benefit from well-spoken words but to practice some “good magic”. After writing this post, I called a friend who is not only gifted chemist but a brilliant poet, and I tried my hand at a word spell: “You are a brilliant poet! Your work needs to be published. Submit to a journal this week!” I said. D, I know you are reading this so, “Get to it!”
To all others (myself included), let’s practice some good magic today. Let’s use our words.
PS: Please share your experience of giving or receiving magical words.