Today, the core of my business is built on the power of words, but it didn’t happen overnight. After years of gaining wisdom from others, I was finally able to put words at the center of my professional philosophy.
A Word About Education
It all started in college, when I was an English major at The Virginia Military Institute. There, I studied under 2 professors who taught me invaluable lessons, making my entire education life-changing.
Colonel John G. Barrett was my history teacher and the essence of a Southern gentleman. He taught a course in the Civil War as one of the world’s foremost experts on the topic. A masterful teacher, storyteller, and mentor, he taught me not only to be a gentleman, but also about the significance of knowing history as context for the future.
Colonel Herbert Nash Dillard, who had a great love affair with words, taught me Shakespeare and romantic poetry. He showed me that words, when used properly, inspire us, call us, and incite us, and that our selection of words isn’t a small thing. Through him, I witnessed the dissection of words, learned their origins, determined their impact on me, and reveled in and contemplated their significance in etymology–and life.
Words of Wisdom
I left school with those many lessons in my pocket and used them throughout my career. Now, my company, Delta Point, Inc., consults some of the most impressive companies in the world, helping them find the right words to make their brands more successful.
Never did I dream that my career would be so impacted by these 2 powerhouses from my past. Their influence ignited a flame in which I decided to impact others–any way I could. Whether it’s been through mentorship, training, or friendship, I have aimed to spread the words needed to succeed and find the leader within.
My virtual training program, Jerry Acuff VT, has become one of those platforms, as it teaches how to use words to create engagement and instill a desire to listen to what you have to say. This doesn’t mean speaking in manipulation, but rather in a way that keeps the other person’s mind open. Too often we unintentionally use language that causes people to close their minds, and that’s because we aren’t using language correctly. It’s called miscommunication.
We see this happen in selling, politics, boardrooms, locker rooms in sports, conversations with our spouses, and many others. In Mark Twain’s words, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.”
Words for Every Occasion
Words are powerful not just in connecting with others, but for connecting with the self. Use them. They can create the right mood for when you’re down or take you to a calm place that resurrects wonderful memories. Even recalling famous words can motivate and inspire, like “The Gettysburg Address,” Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, or even Yoda’s phrase, “There is no try; there is only do.”
There are a lot of inspiring words to choose from, but it’s important that we can grab hold of the right ones when times are bleak.
I leave you with the first 4 lines of Thomas Gray’s, “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard,” which I say to myself at dusk, or when I want to be reminded of how strong and hopeful I felt at 21, having just learned them from Colonel Dillard. After 40 years, the words ring fresh in my ears.
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
The world is yours, and the difference you make in this world is up to you and the words you choose.
Speak incredibly. #BeIncredible.
Want to change the world with your words and need some help choosing the right ones? Click here to learn more about Jerry’s online course on how to harness the power of words.