The statements we make to people during critical times can either support or hinder their potential. That’s why I call these statements “Power Messages.”
The event is crystal clear in my memory. I was fifteen years old and a sophomore in high school. I was being driven home after a church youth activity by my youth minister, Ben. He was not only my youth leader he was also my mentor.
As we drove west on 15th street in Del City, we began talking about the future. Ben asked me what I dreamed about doing when I get older. I can’t remember what I said, but the statement he made following my answer still rings in my head.
As I stared out of the window at the Community Center, he said “Jason, you are gifted and can do anything you set your heart to do. I know you will not only succeed, but you’ll help many people while you’re doing it.”
Ben’s message was genuine and came at a time in my life that I really needed to hear it. The message boosted my confidence. It made me feel valued. It opened my eyes to new possibilities. It reduced my fear.
His message sparked something deep inside of me that put me on a different path in life. I let go of activities and friends that weren’t leading me in the right direction and even began thinking beyond myself, which is pretty rare for a fifteen-year-old. This conversation is crystal clear in my memory because it activated something inside me.
One of the most powerful tools you have as a person, and as a leader, is your words. In a past blog article, I wrote about Power Words, I share the research on how certain words create more positive emotions and outcomes and how negative words create negative results. Words can become even more powerful when they are put into statements and used to give a message to others.
You can use intentional messages to activate a person’s natural energy, motivation, confidence, and unleash a person to be and do their best in all areas of life.
A message isn’t a motivational speech or a generic statement or cliche that falls empty. Rather, it’s a genuine message of care, value, confidence, and empowerment.
If you truly want to begin to activate the best in the people around you, start using power messages. Here are several types of power messages you can use.
Feed-forward. Feedback is when someone tells you what you did in the past. Feedforward is a message that tells someone what you believe the person will do or achieve in the future. Examples:
“I have full confidence that you will reach that goal.”
“That’s tough, but I know you will achieve it.”
“I can see you succeeding and becoming a superstar in this company.”
“I know it won’t be easy, but your determination and resilience will carry you through to completion.”
Inspire action. People hold themselves back from taking action because of fear, overwhelm, or a lack of confidence. When you see this, encourage action by using statements similar to the following.
“There’s never a perfect time, but the sooner you start the quicker you will finish and achieve.”
“Fear holds us all back. That’s natural. Always remember that failure is a teacher and I’m here for you no matter the outcome.”
“You underestimate your ability. As soon as you take action, you will see in yourself, what others see in you.”
Challenge. When you know a person’s motives and needs well, you can begin to use challenge messages to jumpstart motivation and focus. The purpose of a challenge statement is to bring a person out of apathy, complacency, and their comfort zone and into the zone of challenge where energy is sparked, learning occurs, and achievement is exhilarating. Examples:
“I know you can achieve that by the end of the month rather than 3 months from now.”
“That’s nowhere near your limits. If you choose to expect more of yourself, the outcome will be amazing.”
“With hard work, you have the capability to take this to the next level.”
Care and concern. These are perhaps the most powerful messages of all. People need to know that the connection they have with you is not just about performance and success. They need to know that you genuinely care about them and have concern for their lives as a whole. Examples:
“I appreciate you.”
“I care about you and want the best for you and your family.”
“You are more valuable than the results you create. I want you to make taking care of yourself a priority.”
“I appreciate your character and the way you go about doing things.”
If you want to become a person that sparks motivation and activates movement, action, and achievement, start using power messages with people around you. At first, it might feel a little awkward, but the more you do it the more it will become a part of who you are. An Activator!