I've always loved languages. Born in Belgium, I grew up speaking Flemish, which is spoken by only six million people. The challenge—and beauty—of belonging to a linguistic minority is that you have to adopt other languages if you want to have an impact in the world.
Granted, for Belgians it's much easier to learn a foreign language than for Americans, because we hear the sounds from before we are born. Foreign movies, for example, aren't dubbed in Flemish: the cost is prohibitive for such a small market. So we read subtitles and learn to enjoy the music of the foreign language.
There is an old Slovak proverb, "As many languages you know, as many times you are human."
This is true: when you speak another language, you think like a different person.
For instance, in French, "to be bored" is s'ennuyer, a reflexive verb that makes boredom a condition you inflict upon yourself, instead of something that happens to you.
Speaking different languages also gives you unexpected insights into the deeper meaning of words.
One day I was sitting on our deck with John Milton Fogg, founding editor of Networking Times and author of the bestseller, The Greatest Networker in the World, which has been translated in more than fifteen languages. We were contemplating the origin of the word "belief." I pictured the word in different languages, then all of the sudden made a connection: in Flemish the verb "to believe" is geloven, which has the word "love" in it. Conversely, the word "love" in Flemish is lief, the very root of the word "belief." Eureka! To believe is to infuse with love.
John went on to write an inspiring article about this in the late Upline® journal, and I've never thought about the power of belief the same way since that Aha! moment.
My love of words led me to become a linguist, a language teacher and a writer.
But what do words mean to networkers and entrepreneurs? How can harnessing the power of words help you build your business and your dreams?
We all agree we create our reality with our thoughts. Yet how are thoughts formed? The answer is complex, but has something to do with the words we use.
"Whereof one cannot speak, one cannot think," said the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.
Words form bridges between our inner and outer worlds. Wouldn't it make sense that the better bridges we build between those worlds, the more we facilitate the process of manifestation?
Enrich your vocabulary every day by scheduling time to read. Be curious about the words you don't understand. Become aware of the words that live inside your head by journaling. Use the power of words by adopting a mantra—a word or phrase that keeps you focused and on purpose.
Our language shapes our thinking. Our words ultimately define us. Who do you want to be?
JOSEPHINE GROSS, PH.D. is cofounder and editor of Networking Times.