The Glossary Exercise: Words that mean too many different things to different people.
Take a second and ask – what do these words mean to you?
I find these words to be some of the most significant words, concepts and ideas in our culture, but equally, that people all have a very different idea of what each term means and refers to.
This becomes a problem when we are having a conversation and assume that our conversation partner uses the same definition we do.
It makes sense to 1) write your own glossary of these words, as well as 2) figure out the glossary of someone else you are in dialogue with.
Take note of the following glossary. Remember, it doesn’t matter what the dictionary says — it matters what the person you’re talking to associates with these words.
That’s the conversation they’re having.
When we get this wrong, we harm our chances to have the conversations that matter.
Is charity the process of giving to people? Is it the process of helping people? Is it an entity structure?
Is wealth having a lot of money? Is it having a lot of freedom? Is it having a lot of the thing you want most?
Is success making a successful business? Is success making lots of money? Is success achieving your dreams? Is success more generic; achieving the thing you set out to accomplish?
Is your career the time you spend working? Is your career the period of time you spend doing interesting work? Is your career the journey to dominate a certain discipline or field?
Is work something that can be enjoyed? Is work simply what you do for cash? Is work whatever your meaningful contribution is? Is work labour? Is work vocational?
Is happiness the fleeting sensation of pleasure? Is happiness the long-term sense of fulfilment? Is happiness waking up everyday skipping on the street and singing with the birds? Is happiness contentment? Is it equated with comfort?
Is depression a medical condition alone? Is depression a state we all experience sometimes?
Is comfort happiness? Is comfort just survival?
Is freedom having lots of money? Is freedom having lots of spare time? Is freedom being the boss?
Is God real? Is God the Christian God? Is God just any spiritual being? Is God all of nature, the whole universe and everything in it? Is God a man on a cloud? Is God a woman? Is God a being we just don’t understand?
Is investing buying shares? Is investing buying properties? Is investing only for sophisticated, smart and fancy people? What is investing?
Who do you think of when you read this? Would this piece ‘open a door’ for someone you know? Why wouldn’t you share it with them?