Words are what change the world. Nothing is communicated without words. Nothing happens without words. Some would say ideas change the world, but it’s the words used to express them that make change happen.
Words encourage and inspire, provoke and challenge. They comfort and disturb, connect and divide. Creating images and impressions, they shape how the world is experienced, how it’s known and recalled—think over the phrases “It’s a boy” or “I do” or “I regret to inform you . . . ” to see—to feel—the indelible mark they leave, life-changing moments branded forever on the mind, in words.
In principio erat Verbum, St. John wrote. “In the beginning was the Word.” They’re the start of everything. More than lines and smears on paper, more than air blown past vocal cords and molded by tongue, words are the form that thinking and emotion take. They shape memory and re-shape reality as thoughts transform into action, changing not only outcome, but more importantly, how outcome is perceived.
Chosen poorly, words create indifference—or worse, despair—repelling some or discouraging others. Chosen well, words engage, encourage, and inspire. The right words matched to the right voice can become a call. Jefferson, Ghandi, King—their words rallied thousands and transformed nations.
And it’s by their words each is still remembered.
Words present us to the world, so choose your words carefully. And when you need help, make sure you turn to someone who understands the importance of the right words, someone with the skill and experience to help you craft the message that will best share your vision and achieve your results.
Because words alone change minds and hearts.
© 2009 Patrick Dorsey. All rights reserved.
Mightier Than The Sword Consulting owner and principal consultant Patrick Dorsey applies his twenty years of skill and experience as a business and technical communicator to every project he takes on. As a contributor and manager, he has produced materials for large and small companies across a range of diverse industries that include IT, utilities, manufacturing, and government.
Whether training, reference, quality assurance, or marketing materials, he has designed print and online products for technical and non-technical audiences, internal and external users, and prospects. In addition to writing, he also handles graphics, layout, and design. He’s proficient with a variety of tools, including Word, Visio, PowerPoint, Acrobat, RoboHelp, Dreamweaver, Fusion, Corel Draw, and Corel Photo-Paint, and he picks up new tools quickly.
Pat’s available for part-time and full-time telecommuting consulting work, as well as on-site work in the St. Louis area. You can view his professional profile on LinkedIn or follow him on Facebook or Twitter. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Listen to Mightier Than The Sword Consulting’s Pat Dorsey discuss how words and communication help define us in the world in his radio interview with with Dr. Joyce Knudsen on her program The Image Maker Presents.
It’s an adage most everyone has heard since grade school:
“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
Coined by author Edward Bulwer-Lytton in his 1839 play Richelieu; Or, The Conspiracy, it’s been repeated and appropriated and parodied to the point of cliché. Though not original to Bulwer-Lytton, it’s a truth that’s been expressed at least as far back as Euripides (“The tongue is mightier than the blade.") and the New Testament (“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword . . . ”) on through Shakespeare (“ . . . many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills.”) and Napoleon (“Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.”) and even reflected in my own motto, Words alone change minds and hearts. Its essential truth is simple: communication is far more effective than aggression in generating results.
So, why Mightier Than The Sword Consulting?
Given the truth Bulwer-Lytton expressed, it’s certainly a great phrase for a writer/communicator to go by. But it runs deeper for me. One summer in college, I signed up for a Fencing class. Growing up on The Mark of Zorro, The Three Musketeers, Star Wars, and the films of Errol Flynn, learning how to actually, really use a sword drew me the way no other sport had before and sent me on a path I’m still on, over the years training and teaching in arts that have included not just Fencing but Kendo, Iaido, and others.
So the point where I learned the sword coincided with the point where I understood I wanted to write. Conversations with words and blades, phrases and reactions, ripostes verbal and physical—all came together for me as I studied writing and swordwork at the same time.
As much as my sword training has polished me, between the two, I do believe words are stronger. They can shape the world more elegantly and effectively than the sword. Words form ideas and initiate change in a way that’s impossible for the weapon.
But of course, the good part for me is that when backed into a corner, if words don’t work, I still have the sword thing going for me.
All website content © 2009-2011 Patrick Dorsey. All rights reserved.