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The following is an excerpt from the book Success Built To Last
by Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson
Published by Wharton School Publishing; September 2006;$
$22.99US/$29.99CAN; 978-0-13-228751-7
Copyright © 2006 Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson

Success Built to Last
Meaning, Thought, Action

The Power of Language

"I watch my language because words hit people hard," Joe Nichols, Jr., cautioned. "When I catch myself saying the wrong thing or more often, when (his wife) Bonnie does, we try to get back on track. What you say really matters. Your words have to match where you're heading," he said. Joe is always watching whether his words and actions match his intentions, and are aligned with what he is trying to do. He might not feel strong or courageous today -- in fact, "I often don't. But if I do those three things -- if my words, action, and intentions match -- without fail, it all works out."

Highly accomplished people use language in an instinctive or intuitive way -- and it's focused on what they're trying to accomplish. Human beings use words to "get things done" or "mess things up," Joe said, so he pays close attention to how he treats people with his words and how he is treating himself with the chatter inside his head. If you're wondering what we mean by that, we're talking about the voice you just heard in your brain that asked that question. As you've noticed all your life, that voice in your head can be as toxic as it is supportive in helping you reach your goals.

But don't let it hijack or subtly and insidiously undermine your long-term objectives.

What you focus on in your words and actions impact your effectiveness and, as studies now confirm, your health. "Surprisingly, stress disability claims often increase after people take stress management workshops. Those classes can teach people to see more stress in their lives," said author Al Siebert. 

Your words and actions can make you feel better too, helping you manage your attitude and keep on track, not the other way around. Enduringly successful people the world over tell us it's no accident that, when you commit to progress with a strong narrative and matching deeds, you chip away and eventually overwhelm toxic thoughts and feelings.

"Sometimes, it feels as though you have to take back your feelings by force, like they've been kidnapped by a terrorist in your head," said leadership author, Terry Pearce. "But you can avoid the fight by neutralizing the enemy with words and actions that support your purpose -- to rise above the fray."

When Builders pay close attention to what they say and do -- and make sure both those things are focused on their long-term aspirations rather than the emotion of the moment, then they discover, miraculously, they've developed a better attitude! This in turn shapes their "ecosystem" for success.

Copyright © 2006 Jerry Porras, Stewart Emery and Mark Thompson