#020—Do your words control you?

Hi everyone, hope this week is going well for you! Before we dive in, I have a quick ask for feedback. 

From what I’ve heard so far, many of you find the “Final Thoughts” / my take on different topics most valuable in this weekly email. So, if I were to focus this newsletter whole-heartedly on shifts in my mindset + highlighting alternative ways to see things in your life/career, how happy would you be?

Just reply with:

1 - Super happy!

2 - No, I find everything valuable as is!

3 - I have a different idea - what about...

Thank you so much always for supporting me to serve this community as best I can.

So, this week, I want to talk about how the words we choose—and their connotations—program certain beliefs in our minds. And how those beliefs can lead to misalignment and ignorance if we do not pause to question them. 

Generally, when we have a conversation, we’re using all sorts of words without pausing to verify if the other person defines each word in the same way as we do. But sometimes, one person can understand a word to mean something completely different than the other person’s definition. Each person can attach a completely different connotation to a word. If we don’t recognize the power in words and how much they can dictate our understanding of each other, and of our world, we can be missing out on opportunities to improve our beliefs. I’ll have more on the power of words in Final Thoughts.

But for now, on to more good stuff 🎉


💼  CAREERS AND MEANINGFUL WORK

“Nothing good comes easy.” That’s a saying I’m sure you all have heard before. And while I believe there’s truth to it, I also read a post recently that really changed the way I look at this phrase.

The gist of the post was that “nothing good comes easy” is actually a really negative way of thinking about the good things in our life. It makes us think of good things as something we have to work really hard to have. So instead, by saying something like, “Good things have depth and much for us to gain from,”we can reprogram how we look at difficult work.  Basically, when you see something as a difficult slog you have to get through, then obviously you’ll struggle to feel motivated. But when you see something as an opportunity to learn and grow, you’ll be more grateful and it won’t feel like a burden. And many good things will come your way because you’ll be open to all the learning opportunities. ;) 

Our perspectives on these things matter because they can change the way we approach situations in life and work. A shift in perspective can change how you experience something difficult—and what you gain from it.

  • Speaking of learning opportunities, I just joined OnDeck’s fellowship (cohort #6!).  If you’ve been thinking about applying to OnDeck and want to pick my brain, feel free to reach out.

  • A community member shared Speakeasy with me recently, a new app that offers interactive workshops and talks from popular professors.

  • Looking to give back? Jeremy shares wonderful virtual micro-volunteer opportunities in his Wonder Tools newsletter here.

  • Launch a new product or idea and looking for feedback (or just want to get the word out)? Email me and I can share with the community if it aligns!


👋 SOCIAL AND PROFESSIONAL HANGOUTS

  • Balancing Meaning and Financial Security

October 12th, 6:00 p.m. PDT

Hitting your mid-career crisis? Want more meaning in life but also don’t want to give up your financial security? Wondering what to do next? In this short workshop, we will show you that meaning and financial security aren’t mutually exclusive by introducing you to a framework to think about the next stage of your career that enables you to have both and leave a legacy that you are proud of.  More details here.

  • How to Get Hired at a Startup

October 13th, 2:30 p.m. PDT

Are you a recent graduate looking to break into the tech scene? Or a seasoned professional ready for your next adventure? No matter where you are in your career journey, if you want to work at a startup, this is everything you need to know. We’re partnering with Planted to bring together a panel of industry experts from some of the hottest companies in New York City — they’ll give you the inside scoop on how to get your foot in the door at the startup of your dreams. More details here.

  • Becoming a Changemaker / Creating Impact

October 15th, 10:00 a.m. PDT

If you’ve become more activated and fired up over the past few years, it’s time to build a road map to making advocacy and changemaking a more sustainable, consistent, and fulfilling lifelong pursuit.  More details here.

  • Mental Health Week: Get Moving

October 15th, 6:00 p.m. PDT

Finish off the week with an hour of movement to get your blood flowing, endorphins pumping and energy levels rising ahead of the weekend! More details here.


⭐ FINAL THOUGHTS

Last week my brother in law told me he was collecting tennis rackets. And when I heard the word “collecting,” I immediately jumped to the conclusion that this would be some sort of investment. That’s the connotation that a “collectors item” has in my mind. 

But when I started asking him how he would take care of the rackets and protect their worth, he looked really confused and overwhelmed. I could tell he felt judged by me, and regretted that he told me about his hobby.

My husband immediately jumped in and said, “A collector’s item is just something you collect. Why are you imposing this whole definition on a simple word?” 

It really got me thinking about how the words we use and how the meanings we attach to them shape the way we see the world. Why did I just impose my definition on my brother-in-law? What if I had been more open to understanding his point of view instead of immediately letting my understanding dictate the conversation?

I spent the rest of the week being mindful of words and was able to identify another meaningful example of how our words can dictate (and limit) our beliefs.

For example, I just had a really great conversation with my mom about how each of us views spending money. My mom kept bringing up advice from a leader we both respect who said, “Use your money prudently.” She had heard this advice decades ago, and ever since, she had taken it to mean, “Spend your money frugally and live below your means.”

But when you look up the word “prudent” in the dictionary, it’s defined as “showing care for your future. So, my argument was that another interpretation of that advice could be, “Use your money to invest in your future. Spend now while keeping in mind what you’re building for yourself later on.” And that is the way I interpret that advice. 

My mom and I then went on to have a great conversation because she realized she had been looking at this piece of advice in a very one-dimensional way.

That’s the power of words. Two different definitions can lead people in two different directions. 

That’s also why my husband and I use a mental model we call intention-based communication to ensure we’re always on the same page when we’re having a serious discussion. It’s one of the many mental models I cover in the 10-Day Think Better Challenge. Sign up here if you want to explore them all!

And as you go about the rest of your week, pay special attention to how you use words and how you interpret other people’s words.  You might recognize a couple examples of beliefs that have been shaped by your understanding of different words, like I was able to when I started paying more attention. 😀

Let me know how it goes! And please don’t forget to share your feedback.  If I were to change up the format of my weekly emails and focus whole-heartedly on shifts in my mindset + highlighting alternative ways to see things in your life/career, how happy would you be?

Just reply with:

1 - Super happy!

2 - No, I find everything valuable as is!

3 - I have a different idea - what about...

I appreciate ya,

Shireen