“To speak with impeccability is to speak from your highest self. It means that you speak with intention and with integrity. It means that your words are in alignment with what you say you want to produce—your vision and your dreams.” ~ Jack Canfield from The Success Principles
Words matter. And listening matters. It would be nice if the law of attraction was in full affect even in circumstances of disagreement. To speak one’s truth respectfully should be met with equal respect even in disagreements. Unfortunately, social media has opened a platform where one can spew vitriol without consequence or even having to listen to a rebuttal.
The past few years I have chosen to share my thoughts on a broad spectrum, mainly through social media and my book. There is definitely a sense of freedom that comes from speaking my truth with a conscious emphasis placed on choosing my words wisely and accurately.
It started with advocating for change within our elite gymnastics culture. Since then I have widened my discussion to dissect the heart of the matter. Being deliberate and choosing my words led me to a visit with some members of the House of Representatives and Senator Diane Feinstein last summer. I was asked, “How do we change the culture of gymnastics?” In that moment I saw the answer clearly. It isn’t a gymnastics issue, but a cultural issue of how we parent and coach our children. I continued and was very straight forward in answering, “This isn’t a quick fix. We need an overhaul of how we define success for our children as unique individuals . It can’t be about winning.”
Whenever I go on record, it is exceptionally daunting because one unintentional word can be misconstrued and/or taken out of context and belie my intentions. All great leaders are masters of their words. While not always exact, I do strive to become a master of my words. When I speak I am constantly checking whether what I am about to say will accurately depict and advance my vision and goals. Will my words inspire? Will my words build confidence, determination and courage to take action?
Most recently I spoke with ESPN on the decision to change Katelyn’s floor routine. Katelyn has always wanted a routine crafted with all strong female artists. In the process, we therefore removed the Michael Jackson parts, partly because we wanted a female empowerment routine and partly out of respect and support for all abuse survivors. This decision has been met with a lot of support, but also with cynicism. Knowing why we made our decision enabled us to be comfortable moving forward with the choice and to address any questions with the fact that this decision had everything to do with wanting to craft a routine that brings Joy to anyone excited to watch it.
Since then I have had many opportunities to address different issues in interviews. Not all of the issues have been joyous or comfortable. In fact, in many instances I have been asked to weigh in because the topic is uneasy. I am often told that I am brutally honest. I understand and appreciate the sentiment, but in being accurate with words here I would like to highlight a key point. Honesty doesn’t need to be brutal, but it does need to be respectful and I believe when someone is not being fully honest then they are not being respectful. I take the time to chose my words carefully not to hammer home a point by being brutal, but so that I can stand by them through any level of confrontation.
Confrontation is uncomfortable. However, when I can impeccably stand by my words I don’t fear confrontation and it is a very liberating feeling.