Mark Twain Was Right

I miss album covers (and vinyl too).


“I can live for two months on a good compliment.” –Mark Twain

It’s amazing the impact that a few kind words can have.

A well placed sentence delivered at just the right time can change your life.

It has happened to me—a time or two.

I’ll get to that in a moment,  but first I want to share how a few words changed two friends lives.
I’ll bet if you give it some thought you’ll find that a sentence or two changed yours.

Last week, I was at the gym when a really great song came on.
I’m a music fan and I can guess many songs if they were released between 1964 and the late 80s. After that, my ear gets fuzzy.

Anyway, I didn’t know this particular song so I asked who was singing and my friend said it was Dave Mason, a classic rock artist who once played Delray Beach’s Old School Square pavilion.

The song led my friend to share his Dave Mason story.

My buddy was writing  a music column for the school paper when a very pretty young woman suggested he write about Dave Mason. Of course, he agreed. But he didn’t know who Dave Mason was so after school he made a beeline to the local record store (remember record stores?) and picked up the new Dave Mason album.

He loved it.

And a lifelong appreciation of Mason’s music followed. He wrote about the album–made a new friend in the popular young lady–and enlarged his fan base at school.

But more than that, the brief but very positive interaction with one of the most popular girls in school gave my buddy the confidence to transform just about everything from his appearance to his outlook on the future.

Sounds like an exaggeration?
Guess again.

He showed me before and after pictures. It was dramatic…from shy and unsure to big man on campus.

Pretty powerful wouldn’t you say?

That’s the power of a well placed sentence delivered by someone you respect or in this case fancy.

I saw a similar experience play out with an old friend in junior high school. This particular friend struggled with a nerdy reputation which wasn’t helped by his “bowl” haircut and “flood water”  pants. He was relentlessly teased.
Then one day everything changed.

A few of us were there when one of the most popular girls in school complimented my old friend on his new haircut—no more bowl, but parted in the middle and feathered back which was the style at the time. That one compliment fueled my friend for a decade or more. I kid you not.

He hit the gym, changed his appearance and outlook and the rest is history.

But it’s not just the opposite sex that can work magic with a sentence.

It can be a favorite teacher who tells you that you are good at math, a favorite coach who tells you that yes you have potential or a business mentor who tells you that you have something special.

We have these opportunities to uplift every day, if we choose to look for them. Leaders look for opportunities to uplift.

Consequently, we also have the power to hurt people with a few careless words. A callous sentence can leave a lasting mark.

So what about my own experience?
Well, I’ve written a few times that a lunch and a few words with former Delray Mayor Tom Lynch two decades ago inspired me to run for public office. (So blame Tom when you see him).

I know another former mayor who was inspired to get involved when he stopped by the Chamber of Commerce when he came to town and was urged to get involved by former Chamber President Ken Ellingsworth.
And I’m pretty sure that a few words were the reason that a friend of mine decided to become an entrepreneur instead of going the safer route to corporate America.

Words matter.
Think about their impact on your own life.
And just as important think how your words can encourage, inspire and motivate someone else.