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Today I sat at a different desk for a time so I could be near the sunshine. When I mentioned this to other people in the office they looked at me as if I’m crazy because the sky was clouded over. I explained that I consider all natural light as sunshine, be it through the clouds or not.
Then I saw this post from Sreejit on his blog The Seekers Dungeon about his name and his relationship to it, and then read the DailyPost WordPress Blog prompt: THE POWER OF NAMES.
This post is in response to their prompt.
The idea of the power of names got me thinking about my naming of the light earlier in the day, and this got me thinking about the power of words in general.
As a manager I’ve learned through anecdotal observation about the power of my words. The power to create expectation and define projects. Through my words I define the acceptability of work performance for my team. By the use of labels I apply to the outcomes from the work of others I define their level of success. I define many things by the names I give them.
This observation doesn’t come to me without some amount of awe at the level of personal power we all have. My realization is that we each and all have great power via our words. The realization comes with some desire to live up to that power.
That’s not to say I came to this realization through some epiphany. To the contrary, I’ve been learning about the personal power of our words from some pretty great people — specifically, Don Miguel Ruiz, Byron Katie, and Anthony Robbins.
As I mentioned in my post on Secrets, Don Miguel Ruiz charges us to be impeccable with our word. Ruiz’s assertion is that our words are like spells. Spells we cast with the power of our voice. His challenge therefore is far greater than just living in integrity. We must strive to not only keep from saying things that break us down, but also to use the power we have to achieve our highest and best. It’s not enough to just exist. We must celebrate and thrive through the use of our words.
Byron Katie calls upon us to look at our version of reality as our projection of our internal fears onto the world, to run our words through a process she calls The Work. She challenges us to turn our words around. By turning our negative judgments of others into positive affirmations we can look at the world through a different lens. By turning our words back on ourselves we can see how our judgments are really fueled by our own low self esteem and fear of how we might be seen in the world.
Anthony Robbins challenges us to reprogram our brains usingNeuro-linguistic programming. Tony’s recipe for our transformation starts with the words we use — to use our language to reprogram our brains.
So with this wisdom and understanding of the power of words, I look back upon my relationship to my name. You might question the use of the word “relationship”, but I think it may be a more powerful relationship than any other relationship I’ve had. You see, my name is the single representation of my entire being. Invoking it invokes all of my conscious and subconscious beliefs about myself.
The name David James Kester was given to me by my mom. Named for my father, David E. Kester, and grandfather, James McLoed. I was almost instantly seen as a replication of these men — not only a genetic prodigy, but in some ways as a surrogate for them, at times taking the anger that should have been directed at them, at other times falling short of living up to the model they represented.
The strong stoic image my grandfather presented was a high bar that as a young man I could never reach, while my father’s search for release from inner demons irritated folks and left them wondering about his capabilities, morals, and ethics. I had the demanding task of creating a new concept of self while still operating in their shadows.
From my earliest memories I can still recall my mother telling me I was just like my dad. In middle school I became bitter towards my father, focusing on his shortcomings. In my high school years I was referred to as “Little D”, which, when I was feeling down, I saw as a pejorative. As a result, I was often sarcastic about it.
As I grew into adulthood my greatest struggle was in earning my own reputation and a name for myself. For twenty years, I could not seem to throw this name off. Internally I was still “less than”.
Now I know it was because I did not understand the power I was giving to the names others gave me. In my codependence, I could not separate and create my own reality. I could not name myself.
Then in 2003 I began to transform that codependent attitude — I stopped going by “David” and started going by “Dave”. I began to define myself in my terms. For a while I would even sign my emails “Dvae”, making use of a typo to differentiate even further my internal state of myself from the names others applied to me.
As I began to define myself in my terms, the name David James Kester began to take a more complex form — a man defined not by the definitions of my family, but instead by my own definitions. A man worthy of the name. A man who strives to do his work, adhere to his principles, and to believe in himself. A creator, a father, a mentor, a guide, a way shower, a light to others.
My dad passed away years ago now. I have not been called “Little D” in almost half a decade. But I know that today, even being called that, I would no longer let that name define me. I define my own name. I am in charge of finding and determining my destiny. I am in love with the name Dave because in one syllable, I can define the very complex person I am. In those four letters, I can let anyone know the power of me. I can share my dreams with you. I can share my wisdom with you. I can share my life with you. Just through the sharing of my name, you can come to know me.
I AM DAVE! HEAR ME ROAR!