Written by Jim Stovall
As you are reading these words in a newspaper, magazine, or online publication somewhere around the world, it's important to realize an amazing transfer of information is taking place. This weekly column is not made up of words, but instead, this weekly column is made up of thoughts. Words are the only vehicle we have to transfer our thoughts to another person whether we are speaking or writing. The words you are reading at this instant were born as a thought in my mind that I converted into words that were dictated to my able colleague Dorothy Thompson who typed them into a computer. After those words were proofed and edited, they were sent electronically to the publication you are reading this moment, but the journey doesn't stop there. As you read these words, they go into your mind where they are converted into thoughts. If I have selected the appropriate words and your understanding of those words is similar to mine, we will have achieved communication; however, if I pick the wrong word or if you understand a word in a different way than I do, our communication may be flawed or break down entirely.
Mark Twain said, "The difference between the right word and the almost right word is a large thing. It's like the difference between a lightning bug and lightning."
My late, great friend and colleague Zig Ziglar often presented several humorous and memorable examples regarding the importance of using the right words to express your thoughts. Zig could captivate an arena full of people as he recited several quotes you could use to express your love and devotion to your spouse or significant other. As Zig presented it, imagine turning to your beloved saying, "Spending time with you makes me feel like the first breath of spring," as opposed to "When I'm around you, it feels like the end of a long, hard winter." Zig always reinforced the message with a second example. Imagine telling the most important person in your world, "When I'm with you, time stands still," as opposed to "Your face could stop a clock."
In both examples, the thoughts may be the same, but the words convey entirely different messages. Using the right words in the right way becomes even more imperative as we communicate more and more via social media. Oftentimes, when I'm writing a book, one of these weekly columns, or even an email, I will ask my colleague Dorothy who types my words, "What does that phrase mean to you?" It doesn't matter what's in your mind if you can't find the words to deliver your message to someone else's mind.
As you go through your day today, select your words carefully.
Today's the day!