Mind Your Words: aka Make Sure to use Your Mind When Using Your Words.

Words have power.


I’ve heard that term before and I’ve started looking a lot more carefully about what that means to me and what that means to those around me.


A few days ago, my two toddlers, age 1.88 and 3.68, were being read “What do you do with an Idea?” (GREAT book, by the way) along with a few of their other compatriots at daycare. When the book was finished, they were asked,
“So, what is an idea?”.


They literally had no idea…


Now, this is a story that was told to me by the daycare provider so it is secondhand, I wasn’t there when it happened but I can totally imagine myself there, looking into the big eyes (they all have big eyes) of these lovely toddlers all sitting there, happily mesmerized by the enchanting book. Then I see the glazed eyes pondering the question, “What is an idea?” And looking somewhat dazed and about to run off and play with that train that just caught their eye. So, to keep their focus and engage them in the conversation, the daycare provider said,


“Well, you know, there was a time when planes, trains and even medicine did not exist. Then someone had an idea to make those and they did!”


My 3.68 year old daughter turns to her and says.


“Oh… you mean like an ‘innovator’?”


My job here is done…


So, there you have it. My 3.68 year old daughter doesn’t know what the word idea means but does know what the word innovator means. And I’ve never told her. She’s hear me talk about Innovation: that’s the group I belong to at my school, it’s in my title and I just spent the summer immersed with 36 other Innovators from around North America though the Google for Education Certified Innovator program.


So, I’ve been talking about Innovation and being an Innovator for most of her little life.


I mean, she’s got ears.
She listens.
She hears.
AND she understands.


A lot more than many give her credit for.


I for one am going to talk even more around her about things that really matter to me right now:
and connection.


Those are the three things I’m focusing on right now, for myself, and for those around me, including the littlest people that are in my life.


The one other way that these words are having an effect on me are really around how to be equitable and just about the way we use words to engage those around us. I’ve been very cautious about the way I address others, especially saying the word “guys” which inherently addresses just one gender. Now we have at the minimum two genders and in reality a lot more than most of us care to really think about on a daily basis. I find it intriguing and exciting at the same time not to be caught in the binary trap of being male or female. This image represents the notion of gender spectrum pretty well:



And to top it off, I’ve heard some people, when addressing a mixed gender group say “hey guys… and girls” – really? These are women you are talking to. Addressing them as “girls” is not only a sign of disrespect but totally demeaning. At least in my eyes… People, come on, watch your words. Especially when in a school setting and talking to a group of teachers and students. Finding ways to address a mixed gender group is not that hard. I used the googles and found a few words to use instead of “guys”.
party people
Open Web Crusaders
Denizens of the Living Room
all those low on drinkables
Singers of songs
you lot
dearly beloved


Feel free to tweet more to me so that I can expand this list!


Let’s start using words more intentionally and create a more just and accepting environment for all.

Adnan Iftekhar