What you’re about to read could be the most important business coach training you receive this year… Ready?
Words are like currency. Your success as a business coach depends heavily on how you manage your word-currency.
Throughout human history, cultures and governments have struggled to find a suitable means for storing excess labor for future investment. In primitive cultures, the economic buying power of labor-in-excess-of-requisite-expenditures is stored in tangible goods such as livestock. A mainstay of wealth preservation over the centuries has been precious metals and gemstones. A more “recent” innovation has been the printed bill note. New digital currencies such as the bitcoin are early iterations of future methods of wealth transfer and storage.
One universal and important trait of all forms of wealth storage throughout human history is confidence. When a populace has confidence in their currency all is well. When a currency is debauched, confidence dissipates with catastrophic economic results.
In a similar way, our words are just like currency.
They can be highly valued and trusted. Or they can be debauched and devalued until they’ve become virtually worthless. Debauched paper currencies tend to multiply on printers. Debauched words tend to do the same. The more debauched currencies multiply, the more nervous we become. The same seems true of words.
Whenever we use our words to make promises to family, friends, and colleagues, we issue obligations that must be fulfilled. We initiate sacred transactions of mutual trust. If I give you the currency of my words, I make a promise to act. In exchange, you give me your trust and confidence. You expect me to make good on my words.
Here’s a fascinating take on the subject from the ancient wisdom literature: “A good reputation and respect are worth much more than silver and gold.” (Proverbs 22:1)
So, how can I know to what extent my word-currency is highly-valued in my network of relationships, family, social, business otherwise?
More importantly, how can I know to what extent I’ve debauched this precious means of trust value exchange?
I can ask those people who will love me enough to tell me the truth.
And I can listen reflectively, without defense. Then, I can amend my ways.
Here’s a survey I’ve been testing informally with some of my customers…
What Is the Value of My Word-Currency to YOU?
A short reply is all I need. I.e. “You’re a ___.” Please tell me the truth. If it’s okay with you, I may come back and ask you to share clarifying examples, but I promise to do so without being defensive, even in the slightest.
|Diamond – I know with great certainty that when you say “it” will get done, it will get done and almost instantly. In fact, I don’t know how you manage to fit everything into your day, much less get “my” things done so quickly without fail. You are 1 in a million. I know that I’m not your only customer, but you sure make me feel like I am.|
|Platinum – I know that when you say “it” will get done, it will get done. But, honestly, I sometimes become concerned about the length of time it will take you to complete it and I worry about the timeline creep that you will add to my project. I wish you would be more sensitive to my needs and negotiate more proactively and honestly on your fulfillment timelines so that I’m not put in harm’s way by your issues. I’d rather have you negotiate honestly on the timeline than disappoint me.|
|Gold -The value of your word-currency tends to fluctuate from time to time based on external conditions. I’ve learned that to be sure that I get what I want, when I need it, I need to ask you regularly for status updates to make sure you haven’t forgotten or that my needs haven’t slipped through the cracks in favor of other more pressing projects or (gasp!) more important people or customers. I respect your technical talent immensely which is why I’m doing business with you, but I don’t love how much management bandwidth you require. I believe you have my best interests at heart, but you’re self-management skills need improvement.|
|Silver – The value of your word-currency has become very low in my eyes. If a competitor began courting me, it wouldn’t be hard to take my business elsewhere. You’re technically great at what you do, but the amount of effort I must expend to keep my project timelines on track when you’re involved have become a real liability in my business. Your relationship with me is tenuous at best.|
|Zinc – Your words have almost no value to me at this point. The only reason I even deal with you is because I haven’t had the time or effort to find a better replacement, though I intend to do so as soon as I possibly can. The only way I can get anything from you is to multiply the spend of my energy in hounding, reminding, and hassling you to get what you’ve promised me and what I still need.|
|Fiat Paper – I have come to believe that you will deliberately lie to me in order to make me go away and leave you alone. I believe that you have absolutely no intention of doing what I’ve asked you to do and what you’ve repeatedly agreed to do for me.|
One of the most important disciplines of any business leader or business coach is to monitor the value of our word-currency on the figurative currency exchange that exists in the increasingly socially connected and hyper-competitive environment of global commerce.
I want my words to have more value. Do you?
I’m going to ask more of my customers to rate the strength of my currency.
What will you do?