In Debbie Ford's last book, Courage, she talks about "becoming unrecognizable." Loving that concept from the moment she first shared it, I eagerly took on living my life from the bar of unrecognizable. Whether it's being more aware of my finances or carving out time to do nothing and relax on the weekends, I am always willing to give up who I am for who I can become and to look at how I have done things for new ways that are wanting and needing to be birthed.

In the past year, I have become unrecognizable when it comes to my level of engagement in what is happening in the world. Like many, I have gone from being more of a casual, weekend spectator to someone who feels compelled to know more of the everyday play-by-play. Lucky for me, between social media and all of the news outlets, there is never a shortage of sources I can tune into to get my fill of what is going on in the world and what people are saying as well as everyone's commentary on other people's commentaries. Yet, the self-observation that I find so fascinating is that the more involved in this conversation I become, the less I want to say. Why? Because as I listen to all of the commentary and read all of the tweets and posts, I become acutely aware of the power of words.

We all know that words can inspire or incite, cause healing or hatred, unite or divide. And just like when you hammer a nail into a piece of wood, if you decide that you want to pull out the nail, the imprint the nail makes on the wood lasts forever, such is the impact of the power of our communications. Even if after uttering a remark, you later try to retract your words, explain your statement, or jest your way out of a judgment, just like the nail in wood, the imprint of words can last a lifetime and the impact is beyond repair. Even if they are eventually forgiven, they may not be forgotten.

Now more than ever, when there seems to be an endless war of words, we need to strive to take greater responsibility for our words before they are uttered. Instead of relying on "fact checking" after a communication is made, we need to shift our attention to our intention and let that be the mandate from which our communications are birthed.

As Debbie writes in The Best Year of Your Life, "Intent is to humans what software is to a computer…An intent is a commitment to yourself to bring into existence a particular result. It is the driving force, the hidden compass that directs your daily behaviors. A conscious intent acts as an organizing principle, guiding you to make empowering choices."

It is crucial to take time to think before we speak, tweet, post, make an eye roll, or some sort of body or facial expression, and ask ourselves questions like:

1. Who do I want to be inside of this conversation?

2. What is my purpose and intent for my communication?

3. What will the ripple effect of my communication be? What imprint might it have on others?

When we consciously define who we want to be inside of a conversation and the position we want to take, knowing that like throwing a rock across the top of a lake, there will be a ripple effect, then we consciously create an intention that can serve as a mandate for our communications. And of course it is often our shadows - the fears, negative thoughts and beliefs, and shame that lives inside of our wounded ego - that drive our automatic, unconscious communications and sabotages our ability to be conscious communicators. Our need to be liked, validated, appear cool, tough, wise, and popular, can influence our conversations and determine the impact and imprint of our messaging.

We are blessed with the liberty of free speech yet it is up each of us to bring our attention to our intention when it comes to our communications. Others don't necessarily need to agree with or like what you say, but when you take on being a conscious communicator at least they might respect that you mean what you say and say what you mean. More importantly your sense of self-trust and integrity will rise as you consciously create who you are being in the world and the legacy of your message.

Transformational Action Steps

(1) Before you enter any conversation, bring your attention to your intention and ask yourself:

- Who do I want to be inside of this conversation?

- What is my purpose and intent for my communication?

(2) See your communication as a rock being thrown across a lake. Think about: What will the ripple effect of my communication be? What imprint might it have on others and the world?

(3) When you get clear on these answers and your intention, breathe what you find into every cell of you body and use it as the mandate or organizing principle that sources your communications.

Author's Bio: 

Kelley Kosow is a Master Integrative Life Coach, CEO & Program Leader of The Ford Institute. She is a leader and teacher of emotional education, shadow work, and personal mastery.

In 2007, Kelley joined The Ford Institute staff. She was hand-picked and personally trained by the late Debbie Ford to lead her programs and continue the legacy of her life-changing work. Known as a “coach’s coach,” Kelley works with individuals, groups and corporations world-wide.

Kelley is a graduate of Brown University and University of Miami Law School. Kelley has been featured in local and national media. Oprah Magazine named Kelley as someone who could “Dream it, Do it.” She has been featured in In Style, People, NY and LA Times, and Conde Nast Traveler.

Kelley is working on her first book on Integrity.