Language is the apparel in which your thoughts parade before the public”. Spoiler Alert: This is not exactly cutting edge content here. Indeed, everyone has heard the phrase: ” If you don’t have anything good to say………….”. That said, this is sage counsel for those of us who use Twitter, Facebook, etc. More than ever, with the connectivity available today across so many internet platforms, our thoughts, written or spoken, are available for scrutiny. Time and again we’ve seen the very public disasters, some individuals have personally brought on themselves via the social media. Posts containing fewer than 40 characters have demolished some people’s entire lives/livelyhoods. “Finch”, the quirky genius/team leader in the TV series “Persons of Interest” said “we have all reached a point of immortality whereby automation and social media have made our written and spoken word eternal…… in The Cloud for anyone to be able to retrieve” (not an exact quote). When posted publicly anyone can see them at anytime. And if you think they are stored privately or in limited distibution (friends, friends not acquaintances, etc) I’m convinced that anyone with enough tech savvy can retrieve it.
Remember, every one of us is somebody’s hero, somebody that someone (or several people) look up to and/or aspire to be like. For countless reasons, and particularly now with our virtual immortality, the age-old adage “Do as I say, not as I do” has never been good advice and “Don’t do as I say, Don’t do as I do” is certainly not a standard to be measured against. So what remains is the stalwart credo for all of us to epitomize, particularly leaders, mentors and role-models: “Do as I say and Do as I do”.
HOW DOES IMPULSIVITY TIE INTO THIS?
Whenever I hear the word “impulse” it takes me back to the episodes in the original Star Trek series when the Starship Enterprise has been severely damaged and Scotty the engineer has to announce “we’ve only got impulse engines now Captain!”. That’s not a good thing right? Limping along at a relative snail’s pace when you’re under attack by an alien life force!? In that setting impulse is a lowered state of energy; they are at the mercy of all that is dangerous to them. In a different context the Impulsive emotional state can be an elevated condition; one characterized by high reactivity and responsiveness. This impulsive state, which fosters spontaneity, can at times be as dangerous to us as being on impulse engines, leaving us utterly exposed and defenseless. The spoken and written word is perhaps the strongest weapon in our possession. Used properly it can bring great things to bear. But used with disregard to it’s possible impact that weapon can also backfire. Used indiscriminately, you can literally lose everything you possess as a result of an unrestrained outburst, and not just material matters such as one’s job. Even more importantly your character, your credibility, or your marriage may all come to ruin as a result of your unbridled emotions.
We need to be careful how we use our words and we need to appreciate the precarious positions we can place ourselves into when we admonish or even extoll in an impulsive condition. Admittedly, I speak from experience having personally created poor outcomes out of otherwise normal circumstances because I responded impulsively. In the days and years to come all of us will be presented with a circumstance(s) where we need to put our emotions in check, being careful not to make posts on social media, reply negatively and hurtfully in the heat of argument, or judge your child, friend or colleague based simply on what we’ve seen in their post or heard over the span of just a few minutes or hours. In those circumstances one needs to stay calm, count to 10, take some deep breaths. In those instances there may not be a better time to heed the advice of Stephen Covey : “First Seek to Understand”. Do whatever works for you to remove yourself temporarily from the situation, examine it, and be thoughtful. Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. How much do you really know about the other person’s situation? Only after you’ve taken the appropriate time to think about the situation should you share your comment and reconsider if you should respond to it at all.
Is “Do as I say, Do as I do” already incorporated into your daily goals and convictions? I’ve been fortunate enough to be around some friends and relatives who have showed me there can be great value to not saying anything and just leave it at “Do as I do “. I’m not as good as I’d like to be at it, but I’m moving forward one step at a time, one mistake at a time, but moving forward all the same.
Long before social media, people have been watching, listening, responding and advising us on what we say and how we say it.
” I could strengthen you with my mouth. And the solace of my lips could lessen your pain” [Job 16:5 (NASB)}]