When I was in graduate school, I got a funny call that ended up being very meaningful. It taught me a lot about the power of our words.
“Hello?” I answered the phone. “Vaughn,” the voice on the other line said. “This is Mike. We’re having a huge pickup game of football on Saturday.” “Oh, cool,” I said. “I’ll have to come watch it.” “No, man,” he said. “We want you to be our quarterback. We heard you had a rocket arm.” I almost laughed out loud. Rocket arm? Not so much. More like pipe cleaner arm. I could barely throw a decent spiral. “Um, what’s that?” “Yeah,” he said. “Word around campus is that you’re the rocket in the pocket.” I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. So I went along with it. “Uh, yeah.” I said. “I can pitch the rock.” “Cool!” he said. “Then you’ll be on our team? See you Saturday morning.” I have zero idea how such a rumor spread on campus. But at least once a day until Saturday, somebody said, “Hey, It’s Elway!” or “What up, Montana?” or something like that. It was truly bizarre.
But here’s what was amazing: I started to believe my press. I started thinking, “Well, maybe I can really throw the ball well and never thought I could. Maybe I missed my calling as a D1 and #NFL quarterback!” Ridiculous? Yes. You know what’s even more ridiculous? I played like a MAN ON FIRE during that pickup game. Dropping back. Then scrambling. Short pass. Then long bomb. Tight spirals. Laser-precise accuracy.
It. Was. Crazy. And it made total sense.
Look it up and you’ll discover there’s a #psychological principle called #Labeling. Simply put, if you continue to “label” someone, and if enough people do it, there’s a strong compulsion for that person to believe it. As you expect, it has potentially tragic consequences, as when a person is labeled by another as a LOSER. BUM. UNDERACHIEVER. ETC.
But think of the power for good! How could you influence someone if you labeled them VALUED, PROMISING, or LOVED?
Guess who else you can label? The person who looks back at you in the mirror. How are you labeling yourself? LAZY? UNFOCUSED? Why not label yourself DISCIPLINED, DARING, and DOMINATING?
Call yourself what you want to become!