The Language of an Upside Leader

What you say and how you say it matters more than you may think. 

Words carry enormous weight, and impact your direction, perception, and connection – and sometimes for a lifetime, giving you reason to pause and give up or the courage to move forward with something you want. 

In 8th grade my art teacher had us pair up and draw each other’s facial profile. 

While I don’t remember the purpose for the exercise, I do remember its outcome. 

Maria, the girl who drew me said, “Wow, I didn’t realize how pointy your nose was!” 

Well, for a girl at the blossoming age of 13, this felt like the end of the world. 

I was mortified and wanted to cry. I’m pretty sensitive and one of my mentors calls me “powder puff”. Back then, I was the biggest powder puff. 

Yet, I shrugged it off and pretended it didn’t bother me. 

For over 30 years I carried that statement with me, staring in the mirror at my nose that seemed to overshadow every other feature on my face. 

I looked at it, poked and prodded, and dreamt about plastic surgery. No matter at what angle I looked, it seemed to stand out like a flashing light, detracting from everything else that made me beautiful. 

Oh, how I wanted one of those cute button noses that all of the “pretty” girls had! 

Having a business is one of the greatest self-development experiences I’ve ever encountered. 

After opening my business, I realized that liking who I am was incredibly important for me to care deeply for others. 

So, I worked on liking myself and dare I say, loving myself. 

While I’m still a little self-conscious about my nose, I’ve learned to love who I am – nose and all. 

This is how powerful words can be. 

Words can shape perception and connection which is why I do my best to only speak from the Upside perspective, seeking to build others up. 

Today, this is even more important. 

As a leader, you have the ability and duty to build people up. It applies to everyone you meet – even those that may not deserve your good words. Everyone, even the rudest, most stressed-out colleague, stranger, or family member has the potential to be changed by your words. 

Choose to develop the people around you by what you say and how you say it. 

I’ve learned that the right words at the wrong time can be just as damaging as the wrong words, as there’ve been times in my life when I’ve dismissed the seriousness of a friend or family member’s pain. 

Sharing with them that they could have done “x” differently or to find the Upside hasn’t often been helpful. 

Understanding if or when to speak can make all the difference. 

Today, I do my best to come from a place of love first – and leave the advice giving, no matter how helpful I’m seeking to be, for another time. 

One of the qualities that has served me well in business is my ability to see what’s wrong in a situation, quickly assess it, and come up with a solution. 

While that has served me well in business, I’ve also learned that when you only see what’s wrong – and don’t look for the good too, people are hurt in the process. 

Everyone wants to be valued, appreciated, and loved. The words I use through acknowledgement are a verbal recognition/reflection that allow someone to experience all of those feelings. They get that they are “seen”. 

Finally, when encountering failure, words give the strength to move past the pain and continue on. 

After a series of business losses that felt like the end of the world, I was ready to close down Upside Thinking, Inc.. 

One of my business mentors gave me just the advice I needed to build my confidence, encouraging me to continue honoring the work I was called to do. 

His words gave me the peace of mind to trust that it would all work out in Divine Right Timing. 

Every day you get to influence the people around you by what you say and how you say it. 

Courageous, servant leaders getting the right words can make all the difference. 

ACTION: The Upside Challenge of the week is to examine how your words impact others. 

The world needs you and your brilliance.

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