Know The Rules
I gave a TRINSPIRATION™ themed speech at a recent Toastmasters Club meeting entitled “Know the Rules.” In that speech, I told the audience what the rules are for a 3-word phrase to qualify to be a TRINSPIRATION™.
Rule #1: First and foremost, it is a complete sentence in which the subject “You” is understood. Mrs. Lucia Orr, my 6th grade English teacher, taught me this is an “imperative” sentence, when the subject of the sentence is implied to be “You” even though it is not written out. And an imperative sentence is also a command. That’s what a TRINSPIRATION™ is—a mini-command or exhortation to get us to take some positive step on a daily basis.
Rule #2 is that a TRINSPIRATION™ phrase preferably starts with an active verb. It may start with an adverb like the ubiquitous Nike slogan “Just Do It®” or former First Lady Nancy Reagan’s drug abuse resistance phrase, “Just Say ‘No.’” But my preference is for the first word to be a BIG action verb.
Rule #3 is that the remaining two words will be either a direct object of the verb like the title of the first TRINSPIRATION™ book, Recognize Your Significance, a prepositional phrase like “Believe in yourself,” or an infinitive phrase like “Lose to Win.”
Enough with the English lesson.
Here’s Rule #4: A TRINSPIRATION™ phrase is positive and is definitely NOT negative. It’s meant to inspire millions of people to take some sort of positive direction in their lives on a daily basis.
Rule #5: as a result of Rule #4 we NEVER begin a TRINSPIRATION™ phrase with the word, “Don’t.” Why? Well first off, it’s a contraction of two words—DO and NOT, thereby making the phrase a four word phrase. Somehow QUADSPIRATION is not very “inspiring” to me. How about you? More importantly, though, is that when we begin a phrase with “Don’t” our subconscious mind tends to ignore that word. Thus a mother’s admonishment to her kids as they rush around in the morning getting off to school to “Don’t forget your homework” becomes a command heard in the child’s subconscious as “Forget Your Homework.” Hey, that IS a TRINSPIRATION™ phrase but not very inspiring if you ask me. So I’m going to “Break the Rules”—another TRINSPIRATION™ phrase and say, “Don’t Say Don’t.” Otherwise, you will have your listener only hearing the words after the word, “Don’t” and doing just the opposite of what you want them to do. So that harried mother would be more successful if she would employ the TRINSPIRATION™ lifestyle and say, “Remember Your Homework” or “Take Your Lunch” instead of “Don’t forget your lunch.”
I learned about the wisdom of not using the word “Don’t” at the beginning of an imperative sentence approximately seven years ago and it made sense to me. So being a good father, I wanted my youngest daughter, Kelly, to grasp this concept as she was heading off to play soccer in Gothia, Sweden in the Youth World Cup. On the way to the Los Angeles International Airport, I told her to refrain from giving herself a command that starts with the word “don’t.” As an example, I suggested that instead of telling yourself, “Don’t forget your ticket,” to say “Remember your ticket.” Or instead of saying, “Don’t forget your passport,” say “Remember your passport.” My wife, Valerie, who was travelling as the team chaperone, heard me tell Kelly this newfound piece of wisdom. During a layover in Chicago, Valerie decided to visit the restroom right before boarding was to commence for their flight to Germany. As she walked into the stall in the women’s restroom, she told herself, “Don’t forget your fanny pack.” It was important to have that fanny pack with her because it had $500 in cash, credit cards, and her green card. (She’s a Canadian citizen). Well, you guessed it, she “Forgot her fanny pack” when she heard the last call for boarding. Yep, she zipped out of the restroom and didn’t remember that she had left her fanny pack sitting on the shelf in the stall until the plane was backing out. And bless the airline’s heart, they wouldn’t let her go back and get it. Hey the story gets better. After winning the Youth World Cup, and flying from Sweden back to Germany, the Germans wouldn’t let Valerie back into the USA because she didn’t have her green card with her. I wonder what would have happened if she had told herself “Remember Your Fanny Pack?” Oh by the way, the airline found her fanny pack but the $500 was missing.
So the moral to the story and Rule #5 is “Don’t Say Don’t” if you want to inspire yourself to take some sort of positive action on a daily basis.
As of this writing, I have collected over 700 of these positive, pithy aphorisms. How’s that for alliteration? But I’m sure there are hundreds more that I haven’t written down. So I want to encourage you to submit a TRINSPIRATION™ phrase that has inspired you to take some sort of positive action and what the outcome was. I’ll pick the most inspiring one each month and send you a copy of Recognize Your Significance. Here’s Rule #6 for submitting: “Keep it Clean.” Remember that these are to influence us to take some kind of positive action.
Recognizing Your Significance,