Stop Shooting Yourself in the Foot

Foolish words nullify hard work and good intentions;
stop shooting yourself in the foot.

Leaders get ahead by speaking well and working hard. You need both. I’m focusing on words not work, today.


Foolish words cost. You know you’ve spoken foolishly when you’re expending time and energy correcting false impressions, wrong assumptions, and negative conclusions.

Wise words clarify and inspire. Foolish words distract, confuse, and de-motivate.

If you aren’t building-up, shut-up;
even if you’re correcting.

Foolish words:

A couple weeks ago I said, “Frank, Joe wouldn’t have asked something like that.” (Names changed)  I made a negative comparison between two leaders.

I was pressing Frank to take charge but I spoke foolishly. Frank hasn’t said anything about it but I haven’t forgotten. I’m embarrassed when I remember. The next time we’re alone, I’m apologizing.

Never make negative comparisons between people.

Negative comparisons don’t inspire they deflate. To his credit, however, Frank remains fully engaged. I’m apologizing, regardless.

Wise words:

Many struggle with change. Just hearing the term “change” sets them on alert. Say, “We’re improving,” rather than, “We’re changing.” Improving expresses change with a positive twist.

Wise words express positive intent.

Don’t imagine that shifting verbiage from “changing” to “improving” prevents all the struggles associated with change. It’s one way to establish tone, however.


Words without work are empty. On the other hand, the quality of our words establishes our quality of life. Wise words build up and give life. Foolish words tear down.


  1. Determine to enrich others with your words.
  2. Temper the need to talk with silence and listening.
  3. The benefit of others is the only reason to speak tough words.
  4. Even when you think you know, ask for counsel before speaking publicly.

How can you tell when you’ve heard wise words?

Have you seen a leader who used words wisely? What did they do?