The Power of Words

Jun 11, 2019

I had a vocalist come to me who was told by their speech pathologist/voice teacher that she would never sing again based upon some finding on a stroboscopic evaluation. Nothing was further from the truth, but the person was devastated and completely gave up all hope and stopped singing.

About 20 years ago, I took a 12 year old boy into the operating room with me to observe surgery (that was in the day before privacy requirements were established and it was possible to do such a thing). His mother told me that he had been wanting to be a surgeon for as long as she could remember, but his teachers were not always supportive of this dream. He went to a Rudolf Steiner School where children learn to knit as part of their developmental curriculum. When he told his teacher that he wanted to be a surgeon, his teacher told him, ”You will never be able to do that, you can’t even knit.” Fast forward 20 years later – I got a call a few days ago from him telling me that he had just passed his vascular surgery boards.

Fortunately, my friend followed his heart and his dream and he didn’t listen to the critical words of his teacher. Such was not the case with the singer. But all too often, teachers, doctors, and even parents dash the dreams and hopes of others by shaming statements and predictions that are based upon nothing more than their own bias and opinion.

Words can be powerful, especially when spoken by someone we love, respect, admire, or who we are paying for expert advise. Words can be spoken in the service of personal growth, supporting life and hope. But if they are chosen poorly, they can also have the opposite effect. In my opinion, no one has the right to do that, no matter how many degrees you have after your name or how expert you are in your respective field. The absolute truth is that no one knows what the future holds.