“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” - William Shakespeare
Actually, I disagree, dear Sir William Shakespeare. Humans do create words, but these words we create, create worlds. And this world we’ve created, well it needs some very carefully chosen words to describe it. I implore you dear readers- please do not call this world just evil or destroyed or doomed. Because whatever you have called it, it already is, and whatever you will call it, it will become.
Think about it. Call a “rose” a “flower with thorns” and its sales will surely drop. Call a child stupid and he will learn to think he is. Call a neighborhood poor and you’ll never see wealth come its way. Call out what is wrong and you will never see what is right. Words matter. It’s what we teach kids on the playground so they don’t become bullies. It’s what we teach (or try to teach) the politicians and the leaders as they learn to craft the message of their platforms for change. And it’s what we need to teach adults- especially the journalists and the culture-makers and the influencers- because words matter a lot.
Science too demonstrates the power of words. Dr. Masuru Emoto’s work found that the molecular structure of water can literally be altered by the words spoken to it (Emoto, 2005). Words of love and gratitude spoken to a glass of water yielded beautiful geometric shapes of the crystals within the water when it was later frozen, whereas harsh and evil words spoken to a glass of water yielded deformed shapes of the crystals within the water when it was later frozen. So beauty begets beauty, and likewise, ugliness begets ugliness.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about The Great Resignation- the mass exodus of people from their traditional day jobs to early retirement, or gig work, or starting their own thing. Over 500,000 people in the US alone have become self-employed workers since the start of the pandemic (Christian, 2021). Including me. I reshuffled my career- actually right before the pandemic officially hit California. On Feb 5, 2020, I started OPM Collective. Why? Well because I really wanted to. I wasn’t so much resigning from my previous job (working for a school district) because I was burned out or overworked or, as I love when people say, “just over it”. Ok, I was a bit of all those things. But that wasn’t all.
I was also uncovering a very deep and very fiery and very positive passion within me- bringing connection and community to those who both need and desire it most. To Creative Solopreneurs- those who, like me, venture out on their own to bring their creativity into this world. To make the world more positive than negative. For us Creative Solopreneurs- we do our work on our own, but unfortunately, we often feel like we have to do it alone.
(Hence, why I have spent the better half of this first quarter of this year writing a guide for those very Creative Solopreneurs, of which I am one. Please read this guide here and pass it along to other Creative Solopreneurs who could use these words as well.)
But back to my own Creative Solopreneur journey…To say I resigned from a school district job back in early 2020 doesn’t even tell half the story. It just gives attention (too much attention) to something that already has a bad rap- our public school system and its burnout rate. When you put it that way, I was just a statistic. To say I reconfigured my career so that I was free to let my gifts shine the way they need to shine is a much more affirming and accurate statement. When you put it that way, I was an artist and my craft was my piece of artwork.
So what if we, as a society, agreed to intentionally rename a few things? So that they were more affirming and accurate, and so that they could have a more positive influence on the state of this world.
What if New York Times didn’t just write articles about The Great Resignation, but wrote more articles on The Even Greater Reconfiguration of People and Their Work?
What if cancel culture was renamed support culture and instead of just demoting people who do or say the wrong thing, we more heavily promoted people who do or say the right thing?
What if instead of just calling people out for their anti-gay, anti-black, anti-Asian, anti-trans remarks, we more heavily called people in for their curiosity and bravery in having peaceful conversations about lines of difference?
What if instead of pointing out the rampant rise in mental illness, we more heavily pointed out the greater attention and resources put toward mental strengths? (Thank you to the field of positive psychology for starting this movement.)
What if instead of being told what you needed to improve, you were also told what you should keep on doing?
What if instead of making more shows about famous con-artists (the Jeffrey Epsteins, the Tinder Swindlers, the Anna Delveys), we made even more shows about ordinary people who are extraordinary? (Aka, we need more Ted Lasso shows.)
What if instead of just reading 5 articles about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, you also read 10 stories about why CODA won best picture?
It’s easy to call something bad. It’s easy to find bad people and bad places and bad stories. Not because there is so much evil in this world, but because our brain is primed to do so. Thank you/no thank you to our brain’s negativity bias. It requires much more effort to call something good and to find the good stuff to call out. Hunt for the good stuff. Find the positive words to describe it. Exercise your positivity muscle. I promise it’s a muscle that never wears out.
Christian, A. (2021). How the great resignation is turning into the great reshuffle. BBC Worklife. https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20211214-great-resignation-into-great-reshuffle
Emoto, M. (2005). The hidden messages in water. Atria Books.