Not just for Dads

Intentional Influence – Thoughts for Leaders and Fathers…and anyone who knows some!

Sticks and Stones…

One of the secrets of affirmation is the positive power words can have. But words can also be very destructive.

A known proverb goes: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

What a great response that is when someone is bullying you or insulting you with their words. The only problem is: it’s not true!

Just think for a moment how many people sue someone else because they were insulted by them. By one or two silly little words. Or consider how many fights and arguments start because of what was said by one side or both. By nothing but a different opinion expressed with a few words. Or look at how many relationships fail because of the wounds created by words. By deliberate or in some cases even unintentional words.


Recenty I heard the story of a woman in her 50s. She was struggling with insecurity and self-worth and it affected every area of her life. And the reason for that was one simple sentence that she heard from her dad over three decades (!!!) earlier. She was standing in front of her mirror and doing her hair when her dad came by and said: “You are so vain!”

“You are so vain!” A simple sentence that changed the life of one person forever. A simple sentence, maybe even spoken without much thought, that has such a lasting impact.

Sticks and stones may break my bones…but my bones will heal again. Words on the other hand can go much deeper inside, and create wounds that often don’t heal. Wounds that are so far down and so painful that we don’t let them heal, because healing would require revealing. And with that: facing the pain.

Sticks and stones may break my bones…but broken bones will only cause me to limb for a couple of weeks. Words on the other hand have the potential to knock me right off my feet. And to make sure that I never take a step again. No step towards a dream I once had. No step towards the people that I love. No step out of my cave in which I have been hiding…for fear of the next word that might hit me if I do step out.

Each of us has a choice. We can decide how much we let the words that are spoken to us affect us. But that isn’t always easy. Much more than that each of us has a responsibility. A responsibility to choose the words we speak to others wisely. “With great power comes great responsibility!”

This is not just for leaders or dad’s. This is for teachers. This is for supervisors. This is for employees. This is for spouses. This is for children. This is for you…and this is certainly for me!

The words we speak on a daily basis to the people around us have the power to change lives. Even when we are not aware of it. We have a choice to make! Will we criticize and hurt and insult and belittle….or will we encourage and build up and affirm and love?

What will your choice be today?

I would love to hear the stories you have about words. Words that you spoke to others, or things that were said to you that had an impact on your lives. Leave a comment and share with others about the power of words!

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