Back in college, Rukiyah Abdullah, a good friend of mine, used to have this saying that has become a way of thinking for me. She used to say, “words manifest into reality,” or something to that effect. The words we use have a tremendous affect on how we think and what happens in life.
Ken Canion, America’s Most Passionate Speaker, once told me about a book he read. A woman was walking with her two young sons when someone asked what were their names. She responded “the doctor’s name is blah blah blah, and the lawyer’s name is blah blah blah.” Her kids were still in elementary school.
There’s a Nike ad that says, “Whether I say I can or say that I can’t, I’m right.” Or something like that. And I think it was Nike. But you get the point.
There are so many cliches built around this concept such as “be careful of what you ask for,” because words manifest and “I am somebody” for those who don’t know it yet but are working on it.
And how many great quotes have there been in history spoken about the power of words?
- “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ― Mother Teresa
- “That’s what careless words do. They make people love you a little less.” ― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things
- “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” ― Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
- “A word is dead when it’s been said, some say. I say it just begins to live that day.” ― Emily Dickinson
- “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind
- “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” ― George Orwell, 1984
- “I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.” ― Emily Dickinson
- “A man with a scant vocabulary will almost certainly be a weak thinker. The richer and more copious one’s vocabulary and the greater one’s awareness of fine distinctions and subtle nuances of meaning, the more fertile and precise is likely to be one’s thinking. Knowledge of things and knowledge of the words for them grow together. If you do not know the words, you can hardly know the thing.” ― Henry Hazlitt, Thinking as a Science
- “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.” ― Socrates
As Najwa continues to grow, I’m making it a point to utilize the power of words to shape who she becomes. When she says “no,” every child’s favorite word after “mine,” I say “yes.” When she falls and hits her head, I taught her how to brush her shoulders and say, “no sweat.” I record it one day.
And when she starts stacking one block on top of another, I tell her she’s going to be an architect or engineer.