One Thing I Learned Listening To 40 Life Stories

Over the last 8 months, I have had the privilege and the pleasure of providing a global audience with incredible, uncut life stories. I have seen and absorbed every tear, triumph, tribulation and terror that these individuals endured. Here is one intricate yet invitingly intriguing plot-twist that I have taken away.

Words, especially the spoken variety, have a curious knack of either whizzing over someone’s consciousness or deeply penetrating their soul to the point where action is taken by the resonated recipient. Every Sunday, I invite a different entrepreneurial person from around the world to share their life story with all the guts and gory left in. I have been a sponge to these real dramas and a spectator with the best seat in the house to many a soliloquy. I listened to the heart wrenching tales of people who had suffered tremendous adversities and were trapped in an addictive but harmful cycle of drugs, depression, criminality, abusive relationships and more. Here is the one key pattern that I noticed:

In the majority of the stories, the transition from bad to good was sparked by the words of somebody else.

As a self-advocated ambassador for the literary and the linguistic, I found this revelation extremely uplifting and luring. I love the fact that so many words, phrases and sentences are thrown at people everyday but just a few ‘make the cut’ to resonate deep enough to make an actioned impact. There is a degree of randomness at play here and a healthy helping of the universe conspiring at that moment to change a life. The timing, the tone, the choice of diction— all of these things combine to create (and here’s the magical part) a plot-twist in the story of somebody’s life.

Example:

One of the deepest stories I had ever heard was told on December 27th. The man’s life was riddled with abuse, crime, drugs, gangs and everything of that ilk under the sun. What was the catalyst for change? What coerced him to shed the life he was so swarmed in? Words.

“So what’s the set up for tonight then?” said one of his friends, innocently asking about the arrangements for the evening’s social rendezvous.

He froze. ‘Set up?’.

The phrase resonated so resolutely with the raconteur of this true tale that from that point onwards; his life completely changed for the better.

Here is the point I am trying to make. Be vigilant and be empowered by the vernacular and the language you deliver through spoken word or typed message. Be vigilant because you should observe how what you say affects someone’s mood or psychology — this is a powerful tool. I use this all the time and deliberately craft conversations to have the impact that I so desire. Be empowered because what you say could change somebody’s life. Reach out to 3 people you haven’t spoken to in a while and have a real chat with them today about life. Think about what you can do with your words in that conversation to spark some light or revolution in their minds. We, as intellectuals, are the torch bearers for mankind — we must keep the flame lit through tongue or ink.