The Power of One Word

Recently, I heard the following communication thought: “Don’t offer blah, blah, blah when blah is enough.” It was a simple message about the ways we are imprecise in our communication, resulting in us saying more than we need to. Thus, one leadership lesson for all of us is to simplify and sharpen our communication – i.e. less words.

On the other hand, I’ve also learned that sometimes it is critical to add words to our communication – specifically, to add one word to a statement or question which dramatically changes its impact and import. Today, I want to talk to you about two powerful one-word additions for your statements and questions: “yet” and “enough.”

Let’s start with the power of yet! Think about how often you say things relating to what you have not achieved or where things are not as you desire them to be. They usually sound like this: “My business is not where I want it to be.” “My relationship is not where I want it to be.” “I’m not being the type of father / mother / sibling that I want to be.” “I don’t have the money I need to buy a house.” You get the point – it’s easy to talk about what we don’t have, and it can be discouraging. But look what happens when you add the word “yet.”

  • My business is not where I want it to be yet.
  • My relationship is not where I want it to be yet.
  • I’m not being the type of father / mother / sibling that I want to be yet.
  • I don’t have the money I need to buy a house

By adding this one word, you turn the statement from one of lack and disappointment to one of possibilities and motivation. Certainly, you’ll need to shift your perspectives and take different actions to achieve different outcomes, but adding the word yet can be the spark to move you into change.

Now let’s look at the other powerful word to add – enough. When it comes to prioritization, delegation and other leadership essentials, one of our biggest challenges is that everything can seem (and even truly be) important. This makes it difficult to decide which project or action item is the mostimportant. This also makes it hard to decide whether to delegate or not, since it’s often true that no one else can do something as well or as fast as you can. Enter the word “enough.”

Here are several examples of how adding the word “enough” will transform a question, its impact and its outcomes:

  • Instead of asking “Is it important?”, ask “Is it important enough?”
  • Instead of asking if you can do a task faster or better than someone else, ask “Can I do this enough faster or better to warrant keeping this task on my plate?”
  • Instead of asking whose plate a project or action item belongs on, ask “Is it important enough to stay on your plate?
  • Instead of asking if a project or action is complete, ask “Is the project or action complete enough?” (knowing that the pursuit of perfection is often a waste of time and energy).

See the difference – adding one word to your questions will dramatically change your assessment process and your answers.

And here’s a bonus awareness – other people are asking themselves whether they are important enough to warrant your time, attention and presence. Saying that they are important is often not enough– they want to see if your actions show that they are important enough.

There you have it – two words (yet and enough) that will enhance your choices, awareness, effectiveness and impact in every aspect of your life and leadership—one word at a time.

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