Sometimes It Is Just Semantics, And It Really Matters

I love words: reading them, writing them, speaking them, coaching with them, trying to find the right ones that say what I want to say and fit into 140 characters or less. So clearly I get that words have meaning, or they wouldn’t matter so much. But sometimes, still, I get surprised by just how much things can change by choosing different words.

An amazing coach, organizational consultant and friend, Manya Arond-Thomas* is getting certified in a new assessment tool that helps you identify and quantify those tasks and activities that are “mission critical” for your success. I volunteered to do a practice assessment with her. (Duh, me, me! I’m a sucker for I love these kinds of things. If you ever need a volunteer for a quiz, test or assessment, you know where to find me.)

You come up with a list of things, rate them according to a few different criteria and the results are put on a grid. Manya helped me understand what the placement on the grid means, and how to shift things around so that the things that really do need to take priority do. Hint: it’s based on a combination of your perceived ability and perceived challenge.

One of the things on my list was: Be physically active 5 times per week. This was something that, until the broken toe incident, had been a regular part of my life. Now, I’m finding it difficult to get back into the routine. And this phrase, Be physically active, was how I had worded that desire in the past. It worked well before, but now, it just seemed boring and irrelevant.

Through talking with Manya, I discovered that if I changed the language to: Train to Climb Mt. Hood, the whole thing shifted in a really cool and magical way. I get excited and really connected to it. And the irony of it, and this is where the importance of semantics becomes really clear, the actual things that I’ll be doing to Train to Climb Mt. Hood are the exact same things I’d be doing if I was just being physically active.

  • Just a quick PS! While Manya’s niche is working with Physicians and Healthcare executives, she also works with others outside the healthcare field. And, she’ll soon have a free assessment tool, similar to the one I took, available on her website. Check back later if you’re interested!

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