Sapere Aude: Dare To Be Wise

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to break down communications barriers. Reading time: 4:35

      “Respice adspice, prospice. See you on the 24th at 9 am.” Potius sero quad numquam.”

      Latin_plaque_7_Jul_1883That’s the entire note that a vice president e-mailed to each member of his staff under the subject line: Your Annual Review. Only the specific time changed on each personalized e-mail.

     The vice president clearly got his staff engaged—if only to force them to look up the translation of the Latin phrases.

       He knew he was late again in conducting annual reviews. He also knew his tardiness last year and the year before that rubbed off on the staff so much that annual reviews had become perfunctory minimum salary increases. They no longer bought into the management notion that the annual review served as a strategic assessment tool that would turbo-charge their personal careers and enhance the overall viability of the company.

       The vice president knew he had to change that mindset. His own leadership viability depended on it.

       His mea culpa (my fault)  rekindled new vitality in the annual review process with an e-mail note that invited his staff to really examine where they are and where that want to go in their career. The English translation: “Look and examine your past, present and future.” Then after inviting each to a specific meeting date and time, he wrote “Better late than never.”

      Chances are you can still see his staff smiling right now as they learned the translation.  The vice president was finally admitting his guilt in delaying annual reviews.  Was he being facetious? Or could he really be serious this time?  He had his staff intrigued.  At any rate he opened the door to a different experience this year with a very different way of announcing the annual review meeting. This annual  review would be anything but perfunctory.

       The vice president used a powerful leadership tactic to regain the attention of those who no longer hear or read what you say with the same sense of integrity they once had. He broke that cycle. He forced them to –discover the meaning –more than simply dismiss the hearing of his words.

     latin How do you help others discover what you really MEAN TO SAY? Say it with distinction. In Latin.

      Some leaders even turn their signature line in an e-mail or snail mail letter into a portal that helps their readers get a meaningful last look at you.

      When you add a Latin phrase to your signature line you add even more capability to your personal brand well beyond your personality or conventional platitudes. For example, Tony Buzan, the memory expert reinforces his brainy brand with this signature line  Floreant Dendritae -May Your Brain Cells Flourish.

     Compare that signature line to George Washington who always signed his letters,  Your Most Humble Servant.   Indeed others could claim the same appellation albeit not as honorably.  They too could think of themselves as humble. But few –if anyone else—could link and ink his name to brain cells that flourish and leverage that Latin phrase to reinforce his value to others. And of course that’s the key leadership skill in building your brand: making your value to others memorable and meaningful.

   Here are a few other Latin phrases you might include just before signing your name

Operibus Anteire:        “Leading the way with deeds.”

Sapere Aude:                    “Dare to be wise.”

Vincit Qui Se Vincit :      “He who conquers, conquers himself.”

Semper Ad Meliora:         “Always toward better things.”

Ut Sementem Feceris It a Metesa:    “As you sow so shall you reap”

   Effective leaders can also get enhanced buy-in when they use a Latin phrase as if it were a proverb offering increased insight toward a successful outcome.

   For example, one leader wanted to preach the importance of paying attention to the details by writing: Etiam capilius unus habet umbram “Even one hair has a shadow.”

   Select your Latin signature line carefully. Your goal is to intrigue others not confuse them.  Or harm them.  Primum Non Nocere (First do no harm.) Then you’re on your way Semper Ad Meliora!

Today’s ImproveMINT

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