Following is the full transcript of public intellectual Andrew Bennett’s TEDx Talk: The Magic of Words – What We Speak is What We Create at TEDxTowsonU conference. To learn more about the speaker, read the bio here.
I am a magician for over 45 years. When I was 23 years old, I met former US presidential candidate Ross Perot, and I ended up working for him for 10 years. Ross made me promise that I’d figure out a way to integrate magic and business, and I’ve been working at that for the last 30 years.
So tonight, I’m here to share with you, one of the greatest secrets that I discovered on that 30-year journey. Tonight we’re going to pull back the curtain and I’m going share with you one of magic’s greatest secrets. This is so secret that most magicians don’t know it. This is a real treasure to me. When I first discovered it, I didn’t want to share it with anyone. Seriously, I wanted to keep it for myself, but it had such a big impact on my life, and as I started to share it with other people, people were telling me how it was impacting them. So, It’s clearly one of those ideas worth sharing, and that’s why I’m here tonight.
The secret is a magic word, that has transformational power. In fact, it’s the universal magic word, you all know it. What’s the universal magic word? Abracadabra. “Please” is the very good magic word. And “thank you”. So, I never used the word “abracadabra” in my magic performances. I thought it was goofy, some nonsense word.
But one day I was sitting and reflecting, and I thought, “Where does abracadabra come from? What does it mean?” So I started to do some research which led me to the department of linguistics at MIT. I sent an email, and I had a follow-up phone conversation a couple days later. One of the faculty called and said, “You aren’t going to believe this. ‘Abracadabra’ is an Aramaic word.”
I said, “What’s Aramaic?”
He said Aramaic is an ancient sacred language that predates Hebrew. Some people say Aramaic is the language that Jesus spoke. He said, “Hold on because you’re never going to believe what abracadabra means.” It means: “What I speak is what I create.” What I speak is what I create.
Let me give you an example of abracadabra in action. We’re going to start, “What I speak is what I create”. We have to begin with words. So we’re going to take a simple word. The word “ball”. And let’s just add another word. The word “bowling”. Abracadabra! (Sound of bowling ball dropping)
Truly, what I speak is what I create. Words are one of our most powerful sources of creative power. Words can ignite a movement. Words can inspire us to rise above adversity. Words can connect our hearts.
On the other hand, words can destroy creativity. Words can take us down a rathole with self-doubt, and words can destroy relationships. We all know how powerful words are, and yet it’s scary how little attention we pay to our words. We don’t realize how powerful our words are, in terms of influencing the results that we are getting in life. Words are so powerful.
So, tonight, I’m going to equip you by using this idea of abracadabra, to use your words more consciously, so that you can move toward what you want to create, so that you can become more collaborative, more innovative, more creative, you can look at obstacles in different ways, and so that you can transform your life, your relationship, your teams, your workplace. Abracadabra is a powerful tool for doing this.
I want you to think about your words in two ways. Creative or limiting. Are your words creative? Are they uplifting? Are they inspiring? Are they generative? Or are they negative? Are they destructive? Are they demoralizing?
Now, just understanding this distinction between being creative and limiting can be a really powerful tool for you. It may sound really elementary. But just being conscious. Are my words that I am using right now moving me towards what I want? Or are they moving me towards what I don’t want? And just by being conscious, you can do kind of an abracadabra on yourself and say, “Wait a minute. What I speak is what I create,” “I want to be using words that are moving me towards what I want to create.”
So, let’s look at this idea of abracadabra on three levels: On a personal level, on an interpersonal level, and from a leadership perspective.
First, the personal level. Raise your hand if you talk to yourself. Now, you hesitated for a moment. I kind of saw you look up and that leads me to believe that you were thinking, “Do I talk to myself?” Of course you do. We all do. We all talk to ourselves. We have this constant churning, constant stream of thought going. If you don’t believe me, just try meditating. You get quiet, you close your eyes, and immediately it starts. (Snap) “Did I leave the coffee maker on?” It starts. And we just have that constant stream going on.