The Power of Words

Power of Words coverEarlier this year, our FLVS Teacher of the Year, Shawn Wigg, shared his thoughts on the power of negativity in a blog post for The Virtual Voice. His comments were inspired by a presentation given by Jon Acuff, one of the keynote speakers at the Florida Virtual School 2013 Professional Learning Conference.

Jon explored the five stages every life goes through on the path to awesome and looked at what it takes to punch fear in the face, escape average, and do work that matters. As you can imagine, Jon’s words resonated with FLVS employees on several levels. He spoke to us about our influence on others and how often people don’t realize how their actions and words affect those around them. Jon left us with an equation to consider: “1 Insult + 1,000 Compliments = 1 Insult.”

Shawn shared how this equation connected with him as a math teacher and gave us the following analogy. “As a Math teacher, it’s always an interesting analogy to think about how any positive number, no matter how big, when multiplied by a negative number will always yield a negative answer. It helps me realize the power of negativity.” Shawn related this to his students, and how this will affect every interaction he has with his students going forward.

As I read Shawn’s blog post, my mind immediately jumped to the adults I interact with each day.

Words are powerful! Words can either lift our spirit or tear us down in one fail swoop. Depending on our position, we also may not realize the impact of our own presence. A person in a leadership position has an even greater responsibility to understand his or her impact on others. How many of us have either heard the story from a friend or have had the experience ourselves, where a teacher has told a parent that his or her child is “not college material?” Those people can remember exactly where they were that day and all of the details of their surroundings. The words cut so deep and are so powerful that there is an indelible scar ingrained in their memory.

FLVS CultureJust as likely, you’ve experienced a time when a boss’ or a colleague’s words have cut sharply. Research clearly indicates that the majority of people don’t leave jobs, they leave bosses. Likewise, work environments can be toxic or pleasant, and it is likely that most of us have experienced both at some point in our lives. The culture of an organization is all about the people: how they speak to each other, how they help each other, how they interact after the work day is done, and how they care about one another in a crisis. I have always told my children and my staff that you can disagree without being disagreeable. Unfortunately, so often the message gets lost in the messenger.

Just as Shawn has challenged us to think about every interaction we have with our students, I am challenging you to think carefully about each interaction you have with the adults you interface with and to be one or more of the 1,000-compliments part of the equation!

Post by Julie Young, Former FLVS President & Chief Executive Officer

julieyoungIn 1997, Julie Young pioneered the launch of Florida Virtual School with the goal of providing high quality, online courses to students throughout the State of Florida. That vision has resulted in Florida Virtual School becoming the largest provider of Internet-based courseware and instruction for middle and high school students in Florida and around the globe.

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