I have put audiobooks to rest for the past couple months to focus on a podcast binge.
Most of it has been spent listening to interviews on Fresh Air, The Tim Ferriss Show, Brian Koppelman’s The Moment, and others. I’ve always been liked the one on one interview format to learn about “what makes a person who they are.” It doesn’t have to always focus on some outrageously successful person but it needs to dig into what makes people tick to do what they do. Podcasts are able to successfully do this because tv shows typically have to serve the short attention span of its audience while succumbing to pressure from advertisers. On broadcast television, Charlie Rose is probably one of the few to still do this and the Larry King one on one talk show format simply doesn’t work anymore, which is sad.
Enter podcasts, the hope for the future.
In all of the interviews that I’ve listened to, there is something special that keeps rising to the surface. Good interviewers are able to dig into what makes that person special or discovers moments that helped the person break through in life.
It is simple and it affects us everyday.
As I listened to so many of these people interviewed, each shared a story of how words changed their lives. Whether positively or negatively, words often changed the course of their lives. Here are three examples.
General Stanley McChrystal
On one of the podcasts, General Stanley McChrystal shared an important story about his time as a cadet at West Point. McChrystal is one of the most successful military leaders of our age and as a young West Point cadet, he was graded often in the middle of his class. He couldn’t seem to break ahead and several commanders repeatedly told him he did not have a chance to become a true leader in the army. It wasn’t until a senior officer at West Point pulled him aside and pointed out one very important thing. He told McChrystal that his peers repeatedly gave him high marks and believed in him as a leader. The senior officer explained to McChrystal that he had what it took because his fellow cadets believed in him and would follow him. Whereas other senior officers overlooked this characteristic, that moment changed his life. These words became a cornerstone of his leadership as servant leader and he repeats this lesson to others.
Next, it may not be a big surprise for an actor to be self-conscious but Kevin Costner shared a story on Tim Ferriss’ Show about when he was in 3rd grade. He was walking in the hallway at school when he was called into a 5th grade classroom. The teacher for some reason wanted to show off and asked the young Costner to complete a complex math problem on the board when he clearly was years away from being able to complete. Costner couldn’t do the math and the teacher began to laugh at him in front of the whole class. Over fifty years later, Costner could recall that moment in such detail as it affected him today. He still seemed bothered by it. In an opposite way, those words motivated him to evaluate how he would treat others, especially working in an entertainment industry focused on “me.” It has served him well as Costner is one of the most well liked and successful artists of the past thirty years. Most people know of his success in sports movies like Bull Durham, Field of Dreams, and Tin Cup but he is also an Oscar-winning screenwriter, director, producer, and now an author.
A Rowdy 6th Grader
Our life is full of scenes of words to build us up and words to break us down. We can choose to be crushed by these words or we can use them to lift us up.
Paul reminds us in 2 Timothy 1:7,
“For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.”
In fact, this is a mere sprinkling of encouragement you can find from Paul and others in the Bible. It is a reminder that encouragement is needed more than ever in our lives today.
God whispers to us encouragement everyday through his Word and through others.
But, just as the serpent spoke nonsense to Adam and Eve, we also must pray for discernment. In those moments, remind yourself that you are not alone and that encouragement is still there.
Instead of sharing words to break others down, share words that matter and can change hearts.
You never really know the power of these words at the time but they can change the direction of a person’s life.