The Power of Words


Despite having bought them a number of years ago, I only recently began reading a series of books by best selling author Don Miguel Ruiz.  The first in the series and perhaps Don’s most acclaimed is ‘The Four Agreements’ in which he presents a path to happiness and success in life by:

1.  Being impeccable with your word

2.  Not taking things personally

3.  Not making assumptions                                                                                       don ruiz

4.  Always doing your best

Like so many other pearls of wisdom, the power in Don Miguel Ruiz’s work is in its simplicity.   While what he shares is far from complicated putting Don’s advice into practices can be challenging.   Through a series of blogs I will share how I believe each of these four agreements impact upon the success or otherwise of people in business; beginning with ‘be impeccable with your word’.

Don argues “The word is the most powerful tool you have as a human; it is the tool of magic. But like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you”.  In the opening of the book the following useful summary is provided:

 “Speak with integrity.  Say only what you mean.  Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.  Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love”. 

Contemplate for a moment your own experiences of when words have served you well and when they have undermined your success.  Reflect on the quality of your relationships; how well do you express how you feel while having a positive impact on the people around you?  When have you experienced the power of honesty delivered with compassion?
How have the words other people have used impacted what you believe and how you feel?

Both what we say about ourselves and what other people choose to say about us will energise or drain our spirit. Sometimes even the words we allow to run through our minds can influence what we think, how we feel ultimately the choices we make about how to behave.   It concerns me greatly when I hear people say things like ‘I’m hopeless at XYZ’ or ‘I’m so stupid’.  These destructive words can cement negative beliefs we and other people hold about us.

ImageAll too often I observe people being careless with the words they use.  Its particularly concerning when I hear influential people using destructive words. A harsh or unkind word from a leader, mentor, admired colleague or respected advisor can reverberate through the lives of people for many years to come.  Thankfully kind, compassionate, encouraging, complimentary words are equally powerful and also play an important role in influencing the success and happiness of people in all areas of their life.

Many years ago a wise and kind leader said to me “Karen you can achieve anything you set out to, so long as you believe you can”.  To this day I hear those words in my mind when I find myself questioning my ability to succeed.  Not so long ago my team created a poster for me that reads “What would Richard do?” – a reference to Richard Branson and his courageous approach to life.  When I feel doubtful or hesitant these words make a big difference to my mindset and actions.


Perhaps the most powerful words I have ever heard were spoken by Jordan my eldest son, who at the time was only 5 or 6 years old.   While I sat on the couch crying about something no doubt far less dramatic than it felt like at the time he said “Mummy, you choose how you feel.  Choose to be happy”.

Choose your words carefully!   They can and will have a profound impact on you and the people around you, sometimes in ways you may not even realise.  I’d love to hear words that have uplifted your spirit and enabled your success.  What words have you heard from yourself or other people that have had a positive impact on your success and happiness at work or in life?


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