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I HAVE TO tell you about the power of the word

September 21st, 2010
Recently I was watching a teen news program while doing Saturday morning chores with the kids and got to see an interview with Lee Unkrich, the director/producer of Toy Story 3.

He was asked what his role was as the director and he said something like “I have to nurture the story along,” or something like that.

Two things caught me from that response…

My first thought was that his entire team of storywriters might have thought “well that’s kind of pompous, sounding like he was the one who really evolved the story to what it was.  What are we, chopped liver?

I think it’s important to communicate your role on a team without sounding like you did all the great, important stuff.

Really, though, this was minor compared to my second thought:

He said he “had to…”

My heavens… how many thousands of aspiring movie people would have loved the opportunity to be involved with Toy Story 3, especially at that level!

It made me think about what I do, and my obligations:

Do I describe things that I do, or have done, with the words “had to” or “have to?”

I have to write two articles a week for AOL.

I have to direct my JibberJobber team with the design and creation of new features.

I have to go to the mail, see if I got any checks, and then take them to the bank to deposit them.

I have to do more video recordings so my users can get training for their job search.

I have to revise my LinkedIn book.

I have to finish my third book, which is a peek into the life of two entrepreneurs.

These are all things that I “have to” do… but let’s change one word and get a totally different feeling about my work, my pride, my ownership:

I get to write two articles a week for AOL. I know plenty of people who would like the exposure I can get from being a writer for AOL.

I get to direct my JibberJobber team with the design and creation of new features. I have been blessed to have a team to work with, and to have the responsibility to create stuff that helps so many people while developing a sustainable business.

I get to go to the mail, see if I got any checks, and then take them to the bank to deposit them. It wasn’t too long ago that there weren’t checks to deposit.  As a business owner it’s a delight to deposit a check.

I get to do more video recordings so my users can get training for their job search. I am fortunate to be a recognized subject matter expert and thought leader in this space, and feel lucky that people care about what I have to say.

I get to revise my LinkedIn book. How many people get to revise a published book they’ve written?  How lucky am I that it has sold well enough that it needs a third edition?

I get to finish my third book, which is a peek into the life of two entrepreneurs. Not only is this exciting because it’s my third book, but I’ve gotten enough experience that I can actually write a book like this.  This is something I never would have dreamed about years ago!

See the different between HAVE TO and GET TO? Did Tom Hanks have to be involved in the Toy Story movies, or did he GET TO?

I don’t fault the Unkrich for his choice of words – it is common to say what we have to do.  But the next time someone asks you about what you’ve done, try explaining what you got to do, instead of what you had to do.  It changes the spirit of your message!

5 Comments »

5 responses to “I HAVE TO tell you about the power of the word”

  1. A great post with an important reminder Jason. You’re absolutely right. The power of just one word can change everything. I often forget just how blessed/fortunate I am doing what I really enjoy and find purpose in. Keep up the great work! James, Sydney, Australia.

  2. stephen q shannon says:

    I get it that I get to get up in the morning see and comment or not comment in response to Jason’s thinking knowing he gets to read and appreciate every one. Nice!

  3. Hmm. I get what you’re saying by changing “I have to” to “I get to”. I didn’t hear the interview, so I don’t know exactly how he said it, but from reading the text, I perceived “I had to” to mean a compulsion, something driven by passion. If meant in that sense, I don’t think it’s as bad.

  4. Excellent post! Loved it! I love that we get to enjoy life and living and we are blessed to impact people’s lives on a daily basis. We get to……
    Enjoy your day!

  5. Mary Lou Hely says:

    Great post. It reinforces a sense of gratitude about how lucky we are, even just to enjoy a new day. Thanks, Jason.