Language is such a dominant part of our lives but few of us stop to consider language. During January CreativeMornings asked host cities to take some time to ponder language. Kansas City’s Creative Mornings on Language was presented by John January, co-CEO of Sullivan Higdon & Sink, someone whose day and craft is dedicated to the art of language.
January began by exploring the definition of language. Language, a relatively new addition to humanity, has only been existent for approximately 30,000 years. Aristotle defined language as a sound with meaning but in those 30,000 years it has become much more than that. Language is such a central part of humanity that from our earliest moments we begin to emote with sound, grasp communication from around us, and begin to compute that language. We store these snippets of sound and learn to connect them in meaningful ways. Noam Choamsky explains language is an instrument of thought, not the thought itself. January combines these to present language as a way to package thought.
The ability to use sounds to package thoughts is what makes us unique creatures. However, with our habitual use of language in both meaningful and mundane ways we take for granted its power. Language, according to January, is the heart, the essence of creativity. We are able to take a finite set of words and create infinite thoughts. We can craft language to create reality. Language is so ingrained in every part of our day that we tend to overlook its ability to shape us and the events around us.
Knowing the power language possesses to create how to we use it to define ourselves and the world around us? January points us to Don Miguel Ruiz’ Four Agreements:
- Be impeccable with your word – Speak with integrity, say only what you mean, avoid using words to speak ill of others and yourself
- Don’t take anything personally – things others say and do is a projection of their own reality, it has nothing to do with you
- Don’t make assumptions – ask questions, express what it is you really want, communicate with others clearly and concisely
- Always do your best – recognize that ‘best’ fluctuates, some days are harder than others just do your best in that moment and cut yourself some slack.
The power of language is immense. We use language to express our most basic needs, our deepest fears, our biggest big ideas. January left us with one thought, “language is magic, it can create anything. Use it for good or evil, but the choice is up to you.’
You can view John January’s entire presentation on Language HERE.