In the world we process improvement experts live in, specifically when our focus is on “leaning” processes, we spend a large portion of our time helping people remove waste to achieve the goals of doing what they do better and faster. When we do so the costs typically decrease and the profits go up. In a way it’s how we justify our existence, and why we are worth the money we get paid to do what we do.
Taking a look at our personal lives from a lean perspective, there is a lot of waste that, when removed, leads to a better life. Most of this waste comes from what we say. The tongue has the power to provide value and / or waste to yourself and others. The great thing is you can decide to control your tongue if you want to.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. Proverbs 18:21
I recently read a book called The Forty-Day Word Fast by Tim Cameron that takes readers on a 40 day journey to remove toxic words from your vocabulary. In a way this 40 day word fast is an exercise in leaning the waste coming from our tongues. Similar to removing the eight forms of waste from a process, Cameron identifies six forms of verbal waste he guides readers through to remove from their lives. The six forms of verbal waste include:
I took the 40 day journey and it was incredibly difficult to eliminate these six wastes from coming out of my mouth, but what may have been more important to this first of many “fasts” to come is that for the first time in my life I realized just how much these six wastes consume my verbiage both orally and written.
In some ways the 40 day journey was a starting point, or baseline if you want to look at it from a process improvement perspective, to measure future progress against. The bad news is I have a lot of work to do to improve; the good news is I can only go up from the low point I’m currently at!
What I realized is that when I spent a lot of time speaking the six wastes my view of the world and those around me plummeted. I was in a foul mood; always focused on the negative; and just ticked off at the world for being so messed up. I was a hard person, and still am on occasion, to be around when these words and thoughts were consuming me.
Those who guard their mouths and their tongues keep themselves from calamity.
My point in writing this post is that in the world we live and work in it is easy to find yourself being consumed by these six wastes that lead to nowhere, but a depressed state of mind. What would this world be like if there were no judgement, criticism, sarcasm, negativity, complaining, or gossip. Think about that for a minute.
My challenge to you is to help create that world one tongue at a time. Instead of working on all six wastes at the same time, which is incredibly difficult to do as I found out, pick one each of the next six months and focus on reducing that verbal waste, and hopefully over the course of six months you’ll see, and probably more important, those around you will see and hear, a change in what you speak.