After 33 years of teaching, I have learned the hard way about the power of words. What you say and how you say it has a greater impact on the audience than you may ever know.
I am always interested in the topic of Resilience and so I was excited to be able to attend a session on Building Your Own Resilience at an Emergency Services conference where I was presenting. The instructor was highly credentialed and held a senior leadership position with an emergency services agency. At one point in the presentation, he was talking about resilience building strategies covered during a Master Resilience Instructor course he attended. He then proceeded to blow off the first four strategies – yoga, meditation, exercise, and healthy eating – because “they were not his thing”.
As a trainer, especially on critical topics such as wellness and resilience, it does not matter what “your thing” is. It is not about you. There are large bodies of evidence supporting the value of yoga, meditation, exercise, and healthy nutritional habits as stress management tools. There is a growing number of people in emergency services and the military who have regular meditation and yoga practices. The experts on health, longevity, Type 2 diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease all talk about the importance of exercise (cardio and strength training) for life span, health span and the treatment and prevention of disease.
While I was disappointed in the way he addressed those core elements of wellness and resilience, I was stunned later in the presentation when he referred to suicide as a cowardly act. I am not an expert on suicide, but my understanding is that when people get to the point where they are seriously thinking of taking their own life, they see it as the only way to end the pain and they believe their loved ones will be better off without them. Our mission as a profession is to help the heroic men and women of the profession understand that they are not alone with their struggles, that there is help and there is hope. They also need to understand that their loved ones will not be better off without them. As a spouse of an officer who took his own life explained to me, suicide simply shifts the pain and suffering onto the family and loved ones. There are enough challenges for families of emergency personnel who have committed suicide without adding the additional shame and burden of referring to their loved one as a coward.
As a trainer you are in one of the most influential leadership positions in the profession. With that influence comes a huge responsibility to understand the impact of your words. What you say and how you say it has the potential to change the life of someone in the audience, possibly even save his or her life. Choose your words carefully. Craft your message intentionally.
And remember, “It is not about you.”
Winning Mind Training – Providing practical training to law enforcement professionals in the areas of instructor development, Performance Enhancement Imagery, leadership, and mindset.