Humanities Information

The Power of Words

I freely confess that I have had a life-long love affair with words. I fell in love with words by the flickering light of a pine-knot fire. I watched my story-telling father use words to hold the neighbors captive. I learned how to use them from anybody who could teach me.

Words have been used to support and praise me. They have also been used to attack and wound me. But I have never lost faith in their power or their durability.

Words can reveal thoughts, conceal pain, paint dreams, correct errors, and pass along dearly bought lessons to the latest generation. Words can transport knowledge from the past, interpret the present, and speak to the future. Words can build walls between people, or bridges. Words can tear down or build up, wound or heal, tarnish or cleanse.

The ability to use words can endear you to your fellows, win them to your side, and enable you to rise to heights you may now only dream of. That happened to my father's son.

Pursuing the mastery of words is worth all the time, money, and energy that you can muster. And what you invest will be repaid with interest compounded.

Build up your knowledge so that your words are true. Nurture your spirit so that your words are kind, strong, and wise.

The world may little note nor long remember what you say here. And yet it may. For words, once they are released, take on a life of their own, and find lodging in places and hearts you may never know. But after many days, they may return to haunt you, or bless you.

Think carefully before you let them go.

Below is a short piece from the April 2005 issue of The Achievement Digest (TAD):

LINCOLN'S LOG: "Effective Communication"

Lincoln's law partner William Herndon wrote: "He loved the study of grammar, which some think the most arid of subjects."

Actually Lincoln was following the advice of Hugh Blair, whom Lincoln had read, who had written: "He that is learning to arrange his sentences with accuracy and order is learning, at the same time, to think with accuracy and order."

Lincoln read aloud to himself in order to get a feel for the sound and logic of his words, and he wrote out his ideas as a way of arranging his thoughts.

Lincoln was not a good speller, but he took great pains in choosing his words. In one of his debates with Douglas, Lincoln accused his opponent of being sloppy about this. As Lincoln put it, a horse chestnut is not the same as a chestnut horse.

Here again, Lincoln was following Hugh Blair, who wrote: "Hardly in any language are there two words that convey precisely the same idea; a person thoroughly conversant in the propriety of language will always be able to observe something that distinguishes them...The bulk of writers are very apt to confuse them with each other, and to employ them carelessly...Hence a certain mist, and indistinctness, is unwarily thrown over style."

If you are interested in Lincoln's communication techniques, check out the DVD and CD "LINCOLN ON COMMUNICATION." This resource is widely used as a training film for leadership and communication

Gene Griessman, 1995

Gene Griessman, Ph.D. is editor-in-chief of The Achievement is an executive coach and a much-sought after public speaker for conventions, conferences, and retreats. He has interviewed some of the most famous people in the world asking the question: "What makes people great?"

His list includes Ronald Reagan, Ray Charles, David Rockefeller, Sandra Day O'Connor, Jack Nicklaus, Hank Aaron, Ted Turner, Julie Andrews, Aaron Copland, Jack Lemmon, Billy Joel, and Tennessee Williams and many others.

Griessman often appears on television and radio, and his award-winning programs have aired on WCNN and TBS. For years he was host of "Up Close" on TBS, the SuperStation founded by Ted Turner.

He has written and co-authored seven books, plus a one-man play on Abraham Lincoln. He has performed twice at historic Ford's Theatre and at the Lincoln Memorial. His book "Time Tactics of Very Successful People" was featured in Reader's Digest and is now in its 24th printing. He is also author of "The Words Lincoln Lived By" and "The Inspirational Words of Abraham Lincoln." His latest CD is entitled "99 Ways to Get More Out Of Every Day" and his latest DVD is "Abraham Lincoln on Communication." He has taught at the College of William and Mary, North Carolina State University, Auburn University, and Georgia Tech. He has served as a Fulbright professor at the national graduate university of Pakistan and as a visiting researcher at the National Agrarian University of Peru and the University of New South Wales in Australia. He's a voting member of the Television Academy. For years he has been listed in Who's Who in America and Who's Who in the World.

Other free articles on Lincoln 's communication and leadership techniques can be found at To receive a complimentary subscription, send an email to achieve@achievementdigest and type "Subscribe."


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