Why Messaging Matters

Messaging is top of mind for me these days, and not just because I write for a living. When I hear the word ‘messaging’, I automatically think ‘marketing’ or ‘storytelling’: two related (and sometimes synonymous) concepts. “What’s the message?” is the question that every ad, bio, email, and bit of microcopy on a website is working to answer: every word is carefully chosen to get that message across and inspire action in the reader.

My clients’ messaging is vital to their success. The specific words they share with the world become the words they themselves are associated with: their values (and their value), their mission, and their “why” are communicated via deliberate, purposeful copy. As professionals, we thoughtfully choose the words that we share with the world, but what about the messaging we share with ourselves?

The words we use for and about ourselves are critical to our success and happiness, yet it’s so easy (at least for me) to fall into a self-defeating pattern of negativity with our own internal messaging. Constant connectivity via the internet is a great thing for maintaining friendships and exchanging information, but it’s often a slippery slope into comparison and isolation when we live out our lives online.

Affirmations and being mindful of the media and entertainment we consume can help us rewire self-oppressive thoughts of “I’m not good enough/don’t deserve happiness/never get it right” that crop up when we scroll through the online highlight reel of others’ lives. How can we override the automatic thoughts of comparison that arise when we’re constantly exposed to messaging that’s designed to make us feel inadequate?

Years ago, in one of my first corporate jobs, I learned about a phenomenon called the Pygmalion Effect, which posits that higher expectations leads to higher outcomes. This concept was introduced in the context of managing people (believe your employees are capable, communicate this belief, and they will perform better) but as a now self-employed person, it got me thinking: as my own manager, what if I applied this idea to myself?

“Believe you can, and you will.”
”You can be anything you want to be when you grown up!”
”Don’t give up on your dreams.”

The things we tell children to encourage them to learn, grow, and achieve are things that we stop telling ourselves at some point, and thus we stop believing them. Why are these messages that we reflexively tell to children, but not to each other (and to ourselves) as adults? We need to actively encourage each other to chase our dreams and become the best version of who we are, and it starts with the things we tell ourselves and share with others.

Messaging matters, and the most important messaging is the dialog we have with ourselves. So don’t forget: you are enough, you are capable, and you are worthy, in case you needed to hear that message today.

(The image for this post is me circa 1987, roller skating through my family’s southwest Houston neighborhood. I remember loving that Team Spirit message sweatshirt with all my ‘child-of-the-’80s’ heart — an early indicator of my fashion-loving future!)