Heidegger, the seminal existentialist philosopher, believed that language was the house of being. In his famous letter on humanism, he wrote:
In this home of language, man dwells. Those who create with words are the guardians of this home. Their guardianship accomplishes the manifestation of being insofar as they bring the manifestation to language and maintain it in language through their speech.
Insanely dense and abstract and difficult to read, ain’t it?
My college professor once told me that reading his philosophy was like trying to swim through wet sand.
And so, instead of breaking our brans trying to dissect and decipher his every word, let us be inspired by the spirit of his message. Because what the great philosopher was trying to tell us was, language is the lever we have for changing ourselves, and the world around us.
Here’s an example from my own experience.
For the last twenty years of my life, friends, family, peers, clients and total strangers from around the world, have come to know me as Nametag Scott. Now, it was never my intention to create this brand for myself. But when you start doing anything twenty four hours a day, whether you like it or not, it’s going to identify you. It might even define you.
And that brings us back to language. The house of being.
Thanks to my little experiment, people know me not as Scott, but as Nametag Scott. There is now a prefix before my first name, for better or for worse, for the rest of my life.
And what is a prefix, exactly? A prefix is any word or letter or number placed before another. It’s something that adds an introduction. It’s a preformative piece of language, because it alters the form of the words to which it is affixed. Placed in front of another term, the prefix literally modifies the meaning of whatever comes after it.
Scott, for example, is a name. Nametagscott is a story.
The prefix, the power of language, invites people into my home to dwell.
What’s your prefix? What’s the story that introduces your name? And what trademark have you trained the world to associate with you?
Answer those questions, and you will use the lever of language to change the world around you.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
Are you living your life as an expression of your values that invites people to belong to the neighborhood of your being?
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That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Inventor. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.
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