Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble

- Yehuda Berg

Leveraging language is powerful because it improves meaning in your life and in your interactions with others; increasing focus on what’s most important to you. By leveraging language, you increase your level of awareness of other people and of yourself. By understanding what language is and how it represents meaning by using words you will develop refined communication skills. You will better understand, and be understood by others.

You will better understand, and be understood by others

Psychologically, it is beneficial to have an acute awareness of what your environment means to you and what it means to others. You increase your knowledge and understanding of yourself, of others, and of your environment, so your psychology emphasises and increases in knowledge by learning new things specifically related to how you understand language and the system of language; helping you begin to increase your understanding of other people and their behaviours; why they do what they do, and the meaning surrounding it, with respect to language, by increasing knowledge. Therefore, beginning to understand and increasing understanding leads to wisdom.

Your mind will be sharper, quicker and with more agility. Your mind will be more effective, and your thinking skills will improve. You can start to utilise the system of language. For example, Chomsky’s L.A.D (Language Acquisition Device) How do we absorb language and knowledge?

A language is not just words. It’s a culture, a tradition, a unification of acommunity, a whole history that creates what a community is. It’s all embodied in a language.

- Noam Chomsky

5 Ways to leverage language

1. Look up words you don’t know. If you see a word in a sentence, simply google it. Look it up. Read the definitions and then google the synonyms of it.

2. Look up at least three similar words because you’ll increase your understanding of words and how they’re a part of language. It will improve how you understand meaning.

3. Focus on body language. Did you know 80 percent of communication is non-verbal? So focusing on body language will improve your skills, with respect to leveraging language psychologically.

4. Focus on what people are doing with their arms. Are their arms crossed Are their arms open? People talk with their bodies. Really start to listen to what other people’s body language is saying.

5. Practise mirroring. When you mirror somebody, you gently copy what they’re doing. So if they’re crossing their arms, gently cross your arms too. If they’re leaning against the wall, gently lean against the wall too. It creates a sense of unity and similarity, which will improve your connection with them and your understanding of others.

By increasing your awareness of the ubiquity of language you’ll begin to become stronger at leveraging its power. With practice you’ll better understand and be understood by others. How much of an impact would this have to our world?

Thank you for reading,

Adam Bowcutt

Adapted from:

Confide: The New Psychology of Confidence. How to Power Up after Experiencing Depression (2019)

For updates on: Work Is Mental: Rethinking Future Workplace Mental Health (Out May 2021)

Without relationships, you could die of loneliness — literally.

A study concluded, ‘Actual and perceived social isolation are both associated with increased risk for early mortality.’

'Loneliness — both its objective state and feelings of loneliness — is also the psychological state most associated with suicide, to the point where it’s safe to say that while not all lonely people are suicidal, all suicidal people are lonely’ [1]

Building your connections is important because human relationships make up the fabric of your life, along with everyone else connected to you in some way, now and in the future.

I have a small network of snowboarder friends I’m still in touch with. They are rad! Since moving to Australia, I have proactively built up my network

deep and wide. It’s amazing.

You will build confidence by building your network. It’s a mutually reinforcing cycle; this means you will become more confident as your network grows, and as your network grows, you will, in turn, become yet more confident. It’s exponential, where one plus one doesn’t equal two, but one plus one equals three. Two minds connecting and collaborating create more than the sum of their parts.

Psychologically, humans are social creatures. Without a society to belong to, it’s all too easy to become isolated from the group and become a lone wolf. What do you think ultimately happens to a lone wolf? By building connections, you are creating and maintaining a valuable support system. If you need to reach out, there are friends, colleagues, business associates, and family to help you in times of need. Mentally and psychologically, this is a great boost of confidence, because you know people have your back. Likewise, I’m sure you’d have theirs too. At university, I entered the university halls alone, shy and nervous. I plucked up the courage to introduce myself to my roommates.

‘Hello, my name’s Adam. Can I come to dinner with you, please?’

It was later revealed that they thought I was a random stranger. Fast-forward ten plus years and we are the best of friends to this day. We have a WhatsApp group chat, all seven of us. It’s a melting pot of British banter. It’s like we are still at university!

Once you start to truly connect with others in the moment, you will begin to build valuable connections that will help you now, one year from now, or ten years from now. It doesn’t matter when. The most important thing is to start.

Do it. Now.

When you truly, authentically, and deeply connect with people, a foundation of trust is built. A lifetime of solid friendships and strategic partnerships, in life and business, is the outcome. Friendships are built on trust. You need friends to get you out of tight situations and vice versa. You will be a force to reckon with alongside your powerful alliances.

I used to think the friends you grow up with are the most important people you build connections with. I found out this is not the case, because once you become an adult — and even before that, in some cases — you can choose your friends.

Building Connections

Show up to events you’re invited to, or even better, go to events you pick that you’re interested in. For example, if you like fishing, go to a fishing event or meetup. You’ll be glad you did, because the benefit of meeting like-minded people will lift your spirits. Once you’re over your initial fear of meeting a stranger for the first time, reveal something honest and true about yourself in pleasant conversation. For example, I love the peace and quiet of sitting at the local river because it’s relaxing. Or if you’re feeling a bit more daring, perhaps share that you once kissed a fish and felt more connected with it than with your partner! See what happens.

If you’re vulnerable with other people, their defences will begin to lower. This will build trust. Trust is ultimately what connections and deep friendships are based on.

Get out of your comfort zone. Show up! Force yourself to go to an event where there will definitely be other people in the same situation as you. Set a challenge where the goal is to introduce yourself to at least one person in the first fifteen minutes.

Trust is ultimately what connections and deep friendships are based on.

You have the power to choose each day who you will connect with.

Start today!

Who will you connect with and why?

Send a quick message via email, messenger, instagram etc

“Hey, I am ….. and I like how you ….”

Go on.

Building connections is massively important to your quality of life, especially your bank balance, because it is said that ‘your network is your net worth’. What does this mean? Well, it means the value of your connections are inextricably linked to who you know. People do business with people they trust. Your network is strength in numbers. The deeper and larger a person’s network, the higher their net worth.

You’ve heard the phrase ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know’, yes? There’s certainly a grain of truth there. Let’s not disregard the hunger for knowledge, because your authentic connections with people in your network afford you valuable knowledge, in context. It is not just book smarts. It’s great to read and absorb knowledge. Gaining knowledge from others, in context, offers a rich source of knowledge, leading to wisdom. Knowledge is knowing information. Wisdom is the ability to use relevant knowledge effectively to improve your life and the lives of others.

A support network is invaluable to your mental health if you’re feeling low or had a crappy day, or if symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression begin to rear their ugly head. With a strong and deep network of people that know your background, they’ll be there for you, to help you through challenging times. Likewise, I’m sure you’d do the same for them. Wouldn’t you?

Did you know networking is one of the most important skills in business?

As my mental health started to strengthen, I knew of the importance of networking. I got out of my comfort zone and went to a networking event. I felt so awkward. What should I do? How should I introduce myself? I thought. An array of limiting beliefs started to flood my mind. What will they think of me? Am I good enough? What if I make a fool of myself? I used my own mantra of ‘What is the worst that can happen?’

Just as I was about to pluck up the courage to say ‘Hello, my name’s Adam. What’s yours?’ a friendly gentleman in a smart suit beat me to it! He took the words right out of my mouth, except he said his name first. It was absolutely fine. What on earth had I been worrying about? We had a pleasant chat. What I noticed was how much he focused on how he could help me. It was a welcome change to meeting people who only talked about themselves.

I was inspired to get better at networking, do it regularly, offer to help people, and make sure I focused on them. It felt good. LinkedIn is a great resource too. I met an amazing leader and was invited to do a presentation. I felt the fear and did it anyway. Beyond fear is growth.

Focus on how you will offer to help other people. Listen closely to what they’re about by asking open questions enthusiastically — what, when, where, how, who, and my favourite, why. When you meet someone new for the first time, check their eye colour, because that moment of focus will create a great first impression; you’ll connect on a deeper level purely by using great eye contact and body language. The halo effect will come into play. For example, they will think ‘Wow, this person is confident and is really focused on me and wants to connect’. Try it. Seriously, it works!

Building connections is a sure-fire way to build a powerful network that will serve you and, most importantly, help you be of service to others now and in the future. Start networking now!

You can start online via LinkedIn too.

Three Challenges for you:

1 Approach a colleague at work that you don’t know and introduce yourself. Hi my name is… Then ask them how their day is going and really listen.

2 Approach a person you don’t know that you find attractive and introduce yourself. Hi my name is… Then ask them how their day is going and really listen. (This challenge is limited to those of you that are single)

3 Approach a person you are inspired by, it could be a manager, business leader, celebrity. Introduce yourself and ask them how their day is going and really listen.

Pick one and commit to completing the challenge. Make yourself accountable by telling a friend or relative what your challenge is and when you’ll do it.This way you’re more likely to take action.

‘The measure of intelligence is the ability to change’ — Einstein

Thank you for reading! Adam Bowcutt

Adapted from Confide: The New Psychology of Confidence. How to Power Up after Experiencing Depression

[1] Loneliness Might Be A Bigger Health Risk Than Smoking Or Obesity, Scott Mendelson

Mental wealth is a strong combination of growth mindset, mental fortitude and abundance mentality. Applying knowledge gleaned from action, awareness and focus, brings greater skill. Discipline is the bridge helping close the gap between your specific goal and its attainment. Mental wealth, with respect to work and life, affords a solid foundation from which we can build an intelligent future. Understanding that 95% of our recurring thoughts are subconscious and 5% are conscious it's important to pause and think deeply about the source of your current behaviours and present situation.

“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” – Horace

3 Daily Disciplines to Build Mental Wealth

1 Time Transitioning

Important because: applying time-transitioning strategies to your day makes sure you are most effectively spending your finite time. Mindlessly shifting from one perceived priority to the next detrimentally affects intelligent productivity because it depletes vital energy and mental resources, and it's avoidable. A study by Carnegie Mellon University psychologist Eyal Peer and Information Technology professor Alessandro Acquisti measured brain power lost due to expected phone call or email interruptions. They discovered that test subjects 'marshaled extra brain power to steel themselves against interruption, or perhaps the potential for interruptions served as a kind of deadline that helped them focus even better.' [1] Mental agility improves because practicing disciplined time-transitioning skills enables your mind and body to adapt more efficiently to change. The way you adjust to change, with respect to your behaviours, will become more acute and you'll grow richer in mental wealth. It's worth noting that 'a typical office worker gets only 11 minutes between each interruption, while it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption'.[2] This highlights the significant impact of disruption to our workdays.

Solution: Schedule your highest priorities with daily built-in time-transitions.*

It's important to be strict with scheduling, but flexible to any changes outside of your control.

For example:

8:30am-9:30am [Lead weekly team meeting]

9:30am-9:35am* ::: time-transition ::: Do 3 x focused inhales & exhales

9:35am-10:35am [Finalise management report]

10:35am-10:50am* ::: time-transition ::: Walk mindfully to the nearest coffee or tea place then drink slowly enjoying and thinking of your 'why'

• Accept that you'll likely get some level of distraction. Be mentally prepared for possible future distractions AND focus on sticking to your schedule.

• Use a Pomodoro-timer and technique [3] for focused and intelligent productivity (Ideal for INTJ personalities) [4]

• Do your best to enjoy your scheduled time-transitions; practice physical and environmental awareness so that you 'get out of your head', so to speak.

“Always make time for things that make you feel happy to be alive.” Anonymous

2 Psychological Safety

Important because: psychological

safety enables calculated risk-taking within groups of people. Creating a space where you feel safe and open to being vulnerable encourages positive benefits. Within progressive organisations this applies to both individuals and teams. For example, 'in Google’s fast-paced, highly demanding environment, our success hinges on the ability to take risks and be vulnerable in front of peers.' says Paul Santagata, Head of Industry at Google[5]. As a result, individual and collective mental wealth is built. Furthermore,'Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina has found that positive emotions like trust, curiosity, confidence, and inspiration broaden the mind and help us build psychological, social, and physical resources. We become more open-minded, resilient, motivated, and persistent when we feel safe. Humour increases, as does solution-finding and divergent thinking — the cognitive process underlying creativity.'[6]

Additionally, a welcome benefit of psychological safety is that it promotes net positive businesses. Here, an environment is created where bold leaders can develop future leaders with impact so that wider communities benefit positively in addition to the business; profit becomes more than simply financial. It's a good thing.

Solution: If you're an organisational leader (in your own words) consistently ask your team something along the lines of: "What consequences do you think or feel you'll receive if you make a mistake or share any errors?" This way you're opening the conversation allowing space to measure current levels of psychological safety.

• If you're a team member on a project or an individual contributor, challenge yourself to ask the aforementioned question if it hasn't already been asked. For example: "What consequences will I receive if I make a mistake or share any errors?" You may be pleasantly surprised at the answer.

• With permission, openly share actual human errors and mistakes because it will develop a culture of psychological safety among peers and throughout the organisation. Make sure the focus is on knowledge-sharing with a goal of collective learning and progress.

“We are deeply sensitive to one another's presence”― Bonnie Badenoch

3 Rewarding Relationships

Important because: rewarding relationships incentivises bringing people together like social glue and keeping them in a good space. Humans can connect authentically, in the present, with presence. 'The benefits of social connections and good mental health are numerous. Proven links include lower rates of anxiety and depression, higher self-esteem, greater empathy, and more trusting and cooperative relationships. Strong, healthy relationships can also help to strengthen your immune system, help you recover from disease, and may even lengthen your life.'[7] Once we start prioritising human relationships, organisations will start to experience a multitude of benefits; cohesive team-working, stronger networking, better health, commercial growth and increased energy.

Solution: Schedule regular lunch dates with colleagues and friends that you would not usually connect with. With repetition you'll start to reinforce socially positive behaviours and visually inspire others to do the same; leadership starts with you.

• Within organisations adopt an incentive system that rewards people for getting out of their comfort zone with respect to initiating social relationships. For example, offer say 15-20 minutes extra free time to encourage social bonding

• For individuals: reward yourself with a coffee or small gift if you assertively introduce yourself to a new person.

• Offer to buy someone new a coffee with a simple goal of initiating a reciprocal and friendly social relationship. See what happens in future.

“There’s only one thing more precious than our time and that’s who we spend it on.” Leo Christopher

With a strong focus on the following daily disciplines of Time Transitioning, Psychological Safety and Rewarding relationships you will start to build mental wealth for the long-term. It's important to be consistent in your actions because behaviours become habitual and seamless by nature. The rewards to organisations, individuals and wider communities are unbounded.

Thank you for your valuable time.

Written by Adam Bowcutt

References / Sources

[1] New York Times, Brain, Interrupted by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson

[2] New York Times, Brain, Interrupted by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson

[3] Xnforce, Stronger Mental Health & Powerful Productivity: Pomodoro Technique Vs. Deep Work by Adam Bowcutt

[4] NERIS Analytics, 16 Personalities

[5] Harvard Business Review, High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It, by Laura Delizonna

[6] Harvard Business Review, High-Performing Teams Need Psychological Safety. Here’s How to Create It, by Laura Delizonna

[7] Better health Victoria, Strong relationships, strong health: Department of Health & Human Services, State Government of Victoria, Australia