Words. Letters put to paper in the right order that can shape religions and change nations. Spoken words are powerful too, as we all can attest from a family dinner gone wrong or a voicemail left after one too many Margaritas. Words send me checks each month.Words — and some unbelievably unattractive facial expressions — allow me to make people laugh each week. Words in emails literally got me to where I am today.
Whether or not a word was in fact a word led my sister and I to the brink of fisticuffs during a holiday scrabble game. Fisticuffs. Great word.
Some words can be pesky jerks. Just is one of them.
I used to say “just” a lot, years ago. Early on in my advertising career, surrounded by executives and strategists, I’d find myself saying I was “just a designer.” Later in life I’d add that word to different things, “just getting started” “just trying it out” “just a freelancer” “just a consultant” … isn’t it gross?
It’s gross like the Sorry Phenomenon.
Why are we all saying sorry all the time? Sorry for sharing an opinion, sorry for coughing or for the fact that we have a food allergy. ‘Excuse me’ is not the same as ‘I’m sorry.’ The one I see most often is people saying sorry for being bumped into. You bumped into me in your crazed frenzy to beat that guy to the only open check out line, but my bad! It’s as if we’re saying “I apologize for being here and taking up space on Earth.”
For the love of all humanity, LET’S QUIT DOING THAT.
Why am I bringing this up?
Because successful people realize early on that words have power. They study communication and refine the way they speak and write to others. They carefully choose the words they write and say about themselves and their lives. They change I might to I will, they change if to when. Many of them say daily affirmations. Tony Robbins has his own version called incantations, which include standing and saying an affirmation with such passion and certainty that your physical body engaged in the activity. I have started this in my own life but I’ll be honest, I’m not great at it yet.
What I am getting better at, though, is removing “just” and its other variations. Even though I feel like an ant sitting to interview an elephant. Even though I am riddled with insecurities (as you saw in my last post.) Even though I feel that at any moment, bulky men with in black sunglasses sporting navy wind jackets with a big acronym on the back are going to bust into my life. Roger that, team leader we found her. — Uh uh, she’s in her tiny home office in sweat pants like we thought. — Yup, no makeup and hair in a bun, she looks terrifying, uh I mean terrified. — Sorry sir. Yes I know it just slipped out. — It’s just that these people always look so different from their profile pictures! You don’t und — Yes sir. Won’t happen again.
As if someone will soon tell me I’ve been found out. I’m an imposter, a little no one doing something big and amazing, I’ve cheated the system, and I cannot go on. Even this paragraph, I shouldn’t write stuff like this about myself.
If you’re fighting off imposter syndrome like prettymuch all of us are, watch your words. Even though I still struggle, I have stopped writing emails to potential guest that rattle on about how it would be a huge honor if they “could make time for us” and “just a digital-only show right now,” and “still just based out of Oklahoma.”
If you go back and watch episodes you’ll notice I was always saying “Thanks for squeezing us in” or “Thanks for making time for us today.” I have to force myself now not to say it. Why? Because I’m not a rookie interviewer barely getting started anymore. My words are read by thousands each week. My videos have been viewed over half a million times. My viewers tell me time and time again that they’d never heard of that guest before and have started following, reading, and purchasing from them. My words need to reflect thatfact, not my feelings. It’s a disservice to the gifs I’ve been given and the followers I’ve been entrusted with, to speak and write that way.
I’m going to repeat that: it’s a disservice to the gifts you’ve been given and the audience you’ve been entrusted with!
The more I hone my pitch emails and phone calls to reflect the opportunity my show offers, the better responses I get. And the more I start to forget about the men in jackets. The more I start to believe the truth about myself.
See, words can start to change us from the outside in, which is what the affirmations and incantations are all about.
Maybe you’re not ready to start giving yourself pep talks each morning on the way to work. That’s okay. (You can listen to mine on iTunes. Just FYI.) Simply make a vow to yourself to start watching your words. Best self and best work means no more justs. No more apologizing for taking up space. No more downplaying your gifts.
You may not believe your words yet, but you will, so choose them carefully!
This post is a working excerpt/idea from my upcoming book Success for the Rest of Us! If you enjoyed this piece, get my weekly personal posts and book updates emailed to you. You can also show the love by hitting the heart button below so more people will see it.
This post also appeared on Medium.com.