Rob: All right! Welcome back to our Becoming Your Best Podcast, listeners, friends, family, wherever you’re at in the world. We have a special guest with us today who I consider to be one of my dear, close friends: Thomas Blackwell. We’ve known each other for several years. He is our Master Trainer at Becoming Your Best. He just returned from South Africa, from Johannesburg and Durban, where he certified a bunch of other trainers for Becoming Your Best, many of whom will listen to this podcast.
Thomas is just an example, in so many ways, of someone who lives the principles, who has a big impact for good on the world. I don’t want to overstate this—we’re all human—but he’s just an amazing person. Really. He’s been married for quite some time. Thomas, how many years?
Thomas: 20 years this month.
Rob: 20 years. He’s got some beautiful children, a beautiful wife, and he’s written a book called The Liberty of our Language Revealed, for which we’re going to talk about a lot on this podcast, and why he wrote that what it’s all about, the power of our words—our language, our thoughts.
I had the chance to spend several days with Thomas in South Africa a few months back, and we just had a chance to really connect across the board. I mean, he has all the accolades. He’s delivered more than a thousand keynotes around the world, and just a vast resume of teaching tennis, of starting different businesses—an entrepreneur, but more than all of those things, it’s who he is as an example to me. I just really respect Thomas as an incredible person, as an example who’s blessed my life in a lot of different ways.
So, Thomas, grateful to have you on this podcast.
Thomas: Thanks, Rob. It’s exciting to be here and excited to see what’s happening in the world as a result of Becoming Your Best and so many people taking those action steps.
Rob: You know, the purpose is…
Thomas and I talked prior to this, as we mentioned, is to really dive into the book that he just recently released called The Liberty of Our Language Revealed, and get into why I feel like this could be such a benefit to so many people who listen to this podcast, anywhere in the world, irrespective of culture, age, gender, race, religion. You know, it doesn’t really matter what’s in this book; it’s so powerful. So, we wanted to devote an entire podcast to his book, which will be on our website. We’ll talk about how to get it at the end of the podcast and what goes along with that. But, let’s just jump right into this, Thomas.
As you think about the book, what inspired you to write The Liberty of Our Language Revealed?
Thomas: Yeah. That’s a great question, Rob.
What happened, early in my life, I realized that when I said I could, or I can—whether it was in athletics, school, a job, a task—I could. When I said I can’t, I couldn’t. So, I applied these to goals early in my life and businesses. I’ve trained organizations on it. It’s just a common theme: I always knew that someone was going to succeed. I knew if they were going to succeed or not simply by their language. It’s if they said so or not. I could tell their belief system very fast by their language. I could tell the direction they were heading very quickly. So, I knew this common theme was going to be one that I would speak about and attribute to many different successes, so I knew I wanted to get a book out there to the world, at some point, to help change their language so they can change their results, change their environment. You know, and their life. Now, Rob, I thought I was going to be—I would have it done 10 years ago. I started, because I had all these ideas and things in my mind, but it has taken 10 years to write it, and it was interesting that many of the experiences that I had inside of the book, as you read through the story, happened inside those 10 years. So, it was a lesson for me, and great that I listened to those promptings and things. But, it’s just been an amazing experience. Very humbling and inspiring, how it all came about.
Rob: Yeah. That’s a great background. So, since we’re talking about the book, there’s so many options of things to listen to—on Audible, so many books to buy and invest in. This is a big deal, and I highly recommend that anybody listening to this podcast read this book. It will transform the way you think about your words, your language, and certainly your thoughts.
From your perspective, Thomas, why should someone buy this book? I mean, what impact would it have on their lives? Why should someone read this?
Thomas: Yeah. It’s great.
So, my thought there: I’m a big advocate in investing in yourself. You know? Like you mentioned, that’s the first word that I would change. When people think about it from buying to investing, because when you invest you get a return on your investment.
Thomas: So, the reason that someone should invest in a book on the power of language is because the moment someone decides to change their language to what they actually want, it manifests itself. I found that many people are unconsciously going through life saying what they don’t want, Rob, and it’s coming to pass. So, I relate this example in the book. To put it simply, the captain and the crew example. Our mouth is the captain, our words are the captain, and even our thoughts. When you think about our thoughts, Rob, all our thoughts are, are just silent words. Either way, the words are the trigger. So, when the captain says it, the crew goes to work to accomplish that. You see, the brain’s a goal-achieving machine. The crew’s a goal-achieving machine. So, whatever the captain says. If the captain says, “Sail toward the Promised Land,” the crew goes to work to sail toward the promised land.
Thomas: If the captain says, “Sink this ship,” the crew goes to work to sink the ship. There’s no filter where the captain says, “Okay, sink this ship,” and the crew doesn’t say, “Secretly, we’re going to sail toward the Promised Land.” They only know to obey. So, that’s the power, and I talk about the science behind it, and the proof behind how that all works out in our manifestations of who we are.
So, we’ve adopted the sayings throughout our life and throughout our history, where people just say things unconsciously—sort of numb—and what they don’t realize is, it’s happening. It comes into play because of that.
We were on a trip not that long ago in the Caribbean. Someone said, “Oh, the weather’s changing. I would get sick when the weather changes.”
I said, “You want to get sick when the weather changes?”
“Well, no, but that’s just what always happens.” So, what happens is his crew goes to work to make his body sick because the weather changes.
Doctors love this. There are 6 seasons. Oh, it’s flu season. It’s this season. Like, sickness has a season. So, people say, “Oh, it’s time to get sick.” You know? That’s the stuff that’s been unconsciously going, where you and I have talked about health a lot. We don’t get sick. We don’t have time to get sick, you know? Especially when running our businesses. We stay healthy because we need to, and we tell our crews that we’re healthy, and that’s exactly what happened.
So, back to your point is, when someone wants to change immediately their results, their environment, change their language. That’s the power of it. So, that’s what I why I would ask them to invest in themselves in this way.
Rob: Really, you just summarized it right there in those two statements. Change your language, change your results. “What we talk about is what we bring about,” is this tagline that you often use. That’s the perfect case and point. How many times do we know someone who’s either said that, or we’ve been the one who said it. You know, “I always get sick this time of year.” Indeed, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and the person gets sick. It’s amazing, Thomas, as soon as we really start looking at our words carefully, how often we use words that are setting ourselves up for a desired outcome or an undesired outcome, and the power of how those words will fulfill themselves.
So, here’s a different little bit of spin on this question. We just talked about why someone would invest in the book, not buy it. Why would someone invest in the book? Well, investing in a book is only step one. Step two is to actually read it!
Rob: We oftentimes have this big shelf of books. All of our readers know, this is a big deal. There’s a very strong correlation to how much we read and our success. You probably heard us share this statistic in the past, that 43% of college graduates will never read another book for the rest of their lives. This habit of reading is a very strong predictor in correlation to success. So, it’s not just investing in the book. It’s reading it. So, why should someone not only invest in it, which is a great example that you used there of the captain and the ship. Why should someone read it? What are they going to get when they actually read it?
Thomas: Great point. I’m glad you said that, Rob. It’s something that we talked about, especially in Becoming Your Best and helping people become their best for the world. We talk about this temple phrase of greatness sending greatness out; changing it from, “garbage in, garbage out,” to “greatness in, greatness out.” So, look. Rob, if people want things to get better, then they have to get better. If you want your value to increase in your bank account, then your personal value has to increase. The only way I know how to do that is to put greatness in. Reading has been proven—and we can see many, many examples of people that have been successful in many facets of their life: they’re constantly putting in great things. So, yeah. Not just getting it, but reading it.
Jim Rohn, a great philosopher, said it this way. He said, “If you want to make a living, work at a job. If you want to make a fortune, work on yourself.”
Warren Buffett even said, “The best investment you could ever make is in yourself.”
So, getting these books and actually reading them will make you better. Now, on language is the fastest, I’ve found, indicator to change something immediately, by just changing your language. So, I will tell you that it’s been a very inspiring thing to see because I wrote it in a story-form, the most common feedback I get, Rob, is, “I couldn’t put it down.” If you’ve looked at the reviews on different review sites, the number one thing is, “I couldn’t put it down,” because it keeps you intrigued. It’s a story. It keeps you all the way to the end while the principles are teaching you.
So, only if you want things to get better, read the book.
Rob: Yeah. I mean, I read the book. I would say the exact same thing. I couldn’t put it down until I finished. Even at the end, it will leave you hanging because I know there’s more to come in another book. But it was…
Thomas: By design.
Rob: By design. It’s exactly right. You can’t put this one down. The reason I asked this question specifically is, I believe that this is such a life-changing book, just like Becoming Your Best and The Transformation Challenge, but this is not a book to just simply go on Amazon and order, or from our website, or his website. This is a book to actually read. So, I would invite all of the people listening to this podcast to invest in the book and commit to read it within the next 30 days, because this can have such a substantial impact in your life, like it did with mine, and with our family. We have been so conscious with our children, of not only changing their language but changing out language as a family. It’s had a big impact in our family. So, this isn’t just about getting the book. That’s only step one. Reading it is step two. I would invite all of us to do that within the next 30 days.
To tie this back to the listeners, Thomas, and to all of us, and you and I in private conversations have had so many conversations and discussions around different stories and the impacts of language. For someone who’s not familiar with all of this, and this is brand new to them, what proof or experiences could you share that, by reading the book, the person will have a transformation?
Thomas: Yeah. That’s a good, deep question. I’m actually quite amazed. It’s only been out a year, but the stories that are getting sent—and these are just the ones that I know about. The first one that comes to mind is a gentleman, actually has a very successful business in South Africa, and when he read the book, he, for years and years, he’s had a very rocky, tough relationship with his father-in-law. After he read the book on language—one of the chapters is you tend to act how you speak to them. Another chapter is on the liberating language of forgiveness. Another chapter on the language of gratitude, appreciation, thankfulness. He said, “I’m going to change. I’m only going to speak love to him, and I’m going to forgive him upfront, and he might not even know that he’s offended me, but we couldn’t even sit in the same room,” he would say, “for a long period of time.” Since he’s done that, he said, “It’s like this little trick. It’s like this little secret. All of a sudden, I said, ‘How about we go to lunch?’ And he said, ‘Okay.’ Now we’re going to lunch, and now we talk every week. My wife says, ‘What have you done? What happened?’” He said, “’Well, it’s this book.’” He wrote me a long, kind email saying, “This has totally changed my relationship with my father-in-law that, for years, was unsavable-type-thing.” He says, “I just know that I can just speak to them with love, and they act with love,” and he got that from the principles of the book. That’s one example.
Another one is a close family member of mine. He gave me a call one day and, in his 21 years of life, has never called me in his life, Rob. I get this call and he says, “I love you. I miss you. Can you call me?” Well, it turns out that he received the book from my brother, and he said, “I work construction, and I would race home and binge on Netflix every night, and that was my pattern. I’d binge on Netflix, and then I’d go to work. I got your book,” and he said, “Uncle Thomas, I don’t even like books. You know what I mean? I was forced to read in school. I didn’t like them. But, I got your book. I said, ‘You know, he’s my uncle, I’m going to read the book,’ and I found myself racing home to read your book. I finished it, and now I have notes all over my mirror saying what I want my day to be, and commanding my crew, and I just changed the words of the captain.” Now, his relationship is so much better with his fiancé, and “everything’s changed for me,” he said. “It’s changed my world, literally.” I knew, if it was just for him, it was worth it, but then I knew that there was something to this, Rob. It was so much bigger than me, that people are getting this. It’s just been amazing.
One gal, just the other day, she got a book. This is the review she put on one of the sites: “This is a book you should pass down through your family. After purchasing, I shared with my mom. My mom, after reading, immediately ordered 25 copies for each one of her kids and her grandchildren.” So, that’s what she did, but this is common.
I mean, a gentleman who read it. He owns several car dealerships. He read it, and he bought over a hundred of them for an entire car dealership’s staff because it changed his environment so fast.
So, these are things that are happening.
One gal, she read it, and she said, “I’m terrified of planes and I’m terrified of family reunions.” I don’t know how those two things got in the same sentence, but nonetheless, she said, every year—her family has 10 siblings, and it was causing anxiety, panic. They’d have to get on a plane to do it. She read my book and she changed her language, and now she’s shown gratitude for planes, Rob. She said, “I’m so grateful I can get on a plane and go from one point in the country to another, and not have to drive. What a blessing that my family is getting together every year, all 10 of us, whereas many families may not.” So, they’re driving to the airport and she’s just this calm, peaceful lady. Her husband turned and said, “What is going on? At this point, typically, you are in a severe panic and anxiety attack.” She says, “No. I just changed my language and it changed my results. It changed my pattern.” So, her whole family noticed it. Her dad noticed it. He said, “What have you done? What’s going on here?” Gave him my book, and the dad bought a book for all 10 children.
So, these are just some things that I’ve heard back, and it’s just been very humbling and inspiring, but it is amazing what the principles are doing for people when they apply them and read it.
Rob: Well, and that’s why I asked you to share some of those experiences because we’ve seen the same in our own house. Anyone listening to this podcast is probably familiar with our quote that we use all the time, which is “good, better, best, never let it rest until the good is better, and the better is best.” This is one of those areas where it’s a thing of constant improvement.
I’ll just give you an example. I was with Thomas in South Africa. It was so funny. Let me see if I can get the exact words right. Here, Thomas. I’m sure you’ll remember this: “Hey, can you help me so I don’t forget this?” We both laughed, because look at the language there! That was said in the negative, versus, “Hey, can you help me remember this?” It’s not so I don’t forget, it’s so I can remember it. Just subtle little things.
You know, the daughter’s sitting on the table. “Get off so you don’t fall,” or, “Why don’t we get down so that you stay safe?” You know? It’s just these subtle little things. As soon as we start to recognize and pay attention to our language, this is where that spirit of good-better-best comes in. Any of us can take this, I’m confident, and improve our language which will improve our results.
I’ll just share one quick story of how much of a believer I am in our language dictating our results. I mean, I’ve been really focused on this for seven or eight years, and Thomas’ book has helped give me clarification that I haven’t seen from any other book.
So, about two years ago, we had no intention of moving. One afternoon, I came back from a trip doing a seminar. We went out and looked at a home in the east side of the valley where we lived, just for fun, just to look at the home. We walked in and said, “This isn’t it. There’s nothing to this. We’re wasting our time.”
We came back home, and I told our realtor—who I’d just called out of the blue, I said, “We’re not even looking for a home, but if you have anything that kind of fits this criteria, let me know.” To her credit, by the time I was upstairs in my office, she had sent 17 homes on instant messenger. I looked through them, and one of them caught my eye. I said, “Hm.”
So, my wife went and looked with me. My wife and I went and looked at it on Saturday, and we said, “I think this is it. We need to move.”
She said, “Well, let’s think about it.”
I said, “Well, we have tomorrow, so let’s think about it until tomorrow.” Monday, we went back, and we made an offer that day, on Monday, non-contingent on the sale of our other home. We just simply made the offer. Here’s the closing date, and it’s going to work out.
Our realtor was asking us, “Hey, don’t you want to make this contingent on the sale of your other home?” and some other questions.
I said, “No. Things will always work out in our favor. They’ll work out exactly how they’re supposed to.”
You know, I got the skeptical eye there. I said, “Just watch. Things will work out in exactly how they’re supposed to, and they’ll always work out in our favor.”
Sure enough, even though there were a couple bumps long the way, we closed on the date we planned to close on and sold our other home. It was sold within a couple days of listing it, and by the time it was all said and done, our realtor said, “I’ve never seen anything like this. The entire time you kept talking about how it’s always going to work out in our favor. To be honest, I couldn’t believe it until I saw it happen.” She was at the next breakthrough leadership conference, because she said, “This has so intrigued me, the words that had been used along the way.”
To Thomas’ point, the reason I share that is because it came exactly as we had talked about it would, and it did. In the spirit of good-better-best, even though it’s something we’ve been focused on for years, after reading the book I’ve realized that there are so many things I could say in a different way to even take what’s good and make it better. So, I’m very thankful to Thomas for that.
So, maybe in our remaining time, Thomas, just a couple more questions that I have personally, and probably a lot of our listeners have, too. I think you’ve done a great job describing how this book would benefit so many people. Who specifically would benefit from reading this? I certainly had my answer to this, you know, just like other people said they bought it for their children, for their employees. I did the same for my children. I bought a book for each one of them, as you know, and I paid each one $50 if they’ll read it and write a report on what they learned from it, and how it applies to their life. I want to them to read the book. It’s going to change their lives.
So, from my perspective, this has a pretty wide swath. Anyone can read this book. What are your thoughts on this? Who specifically would really benefit from reading and applying the principles from The Liberty of Our Language Revealed?
Thomas: Yeah, great question. Thanks for sharing that story, too, Rob. I love that, love that. I’m going to get that question, but we shared so much common theme there. If you recall my voiced message, we have this common thing in our family that everything always works out for our good, and that’s what my voice message would say—that everything works out for our good. We say that every single morning, as a family, after we have our tradition of family prayer. Together, we always say, “Everything always works out for our good.” You know? Because we love God, and it’s a scriptural thing. It’s a biblical thing. Romans 8:28. It does. It truly does.
Who, specifically, you mentioned, would benefit from this?
I would say anyone who uses words on a daily basis and wants to see an immediate shift in the results and environment. That’s who it’s for, and it’s been phenomenal to see the wide range in people, from very, very successful business owners in one category, to a teenager, to a person younger than a teenager, to a mother, a grandma. Really, if you want to change your results immediately, and want to shift them fast in their environment, then you’re using words on a daily basis. So, that could be everybody, but I wanted to give a specific answer that we all could use a shift, even a person like yourself, Rob, that was pretty keen on being conscious of what you’re saying. This fine-tunes, at whatever level that you’re at.
I think of a gentleman. He’s a successful guy. He’s traveled for over 25 years, business, around the world. One day, he wakes up with severe depression. He gets dressed to get on a plane, in a suit, and he can’t leave his room. He says, “I don’t know what happened, but I just got hit by a mac truck with depression.” They tried all sorts of things, for four, five months. Different psychiatrists. He just couldn’t get out. He just couldn’t shake it.
A friend of ours had a thought, an impression, to send him my book—not knowing what he was dealing with, but just as a Christmas gift sent him my book. His wife gave him my book, and within two days he came out dressed in his suit, and he said, “Okay. I’m good to go again.”
Rob: Amazing, isn’t it?
Thomas: I can’t make that stuff up. That’s what’s amazing. When a person recommands the crew and shifts those things in the different chapters it touches on, I’m just constantly amazed by those sorts of things. So, really, again, anyone who’s using words on a daily basis and wants a shift in their results and environment should absolutely read The Liberty of our Language Revealed.
Rob: Yeah, totally agree. I mean, if someone is in a leadership capacity where they have a supervisory role with someone else on their team, this is a book that everybody on the team should read. It’s just that simple. It’s so powerful. It can go so far in helping people change their attitude, improve their attitude, improve their demeanor, be more pleasant and fun to be around. Certainly, for your children or family members. If you have grandchildren, nieces, nephews.
Like I said, the proof is in the pudding. I did this exact same thing for my kids, and it’s had an awesome impact on our family. I don’t know if everyone listening to this just caught that, but I certainly just took a note, and I’m going to do this with our children. You know, after we finish our family prayer in the morning, we’re going to say the exact same thing, because what a great way to start the day.
We have a little bit of a different song. Can I share this with you, Thomas?
Thomas: Sure. I love when you sing, Rob.
Rob: Yeah, well that’s the problem right here. We don’t alienate everyone and have them turn off the podcast.
We sing this. It’s what we call—it’s a song that sales reps used to go out and say right before they go out and knock on the doors in the selling business I was a part of 20 years ago. We say this: [singing] “It’s a great day to be a Shallenberger. Best thing I know! Great day to be a Shallenberger, everywhere I go-go-go-go. Goodbye to no, never! Goodbye doubt and fear. It’s a great day to be a Shallenberger and be a good cheer. I feel healthy! I feel happy! I feel terrific!” You know?
Thomas: I love it.
Rob: We used to have some fun with that. I just realized we’ve gotten away from that. Our daughters were somewhat participatory. They’re like, “Oh, here we go again.” But, it’s funny, every time we finished they would smile. So, I’ve just taken something away from this podcast, and I hope that we’re all really looking at our own language.
One thing that I can say about this book because I’ve said it many times already on this podcast, is that it will help you see the way that you talk and think in a whole new light. Guaranteed. No matter what position you’re starting from, it will do that for you.
So, Thomas, before we get ready to wrap up. Can you believe it’s been 26 minutes already?
Rob: Any parting thoughts, lessons learned, and then we can share with the listeners where they can get the book, and anything else that would be valuable? Any parting thoughts, lessons learned?
Thomas: Sure. Yeah. What I’ve seen majorly with this is we want our people—whatever organization we’re in. Whether it’s a family, whether it’s an organization, whether I’m a leader in a capacity, we want change to happen within them. What I’ve found is companies that have invested in this for their whole organization, and they’re giving them this book, and they’re reading it, and the key measure is to have a follow-up session and talk about it. Lessons learned from the book. It’s changing them—culture, people, attitudes, behavior—from the inside out. That’s what they want. Instead of saying, “Change your behavior. Do this better.” Instead of barking from the outside in¸ because I put it in this form, people are having internal changes and they’re coming better, showing up as a family member, a husband, a father, wife, a sister, brother, whatever it might be. As an employee. As a leader. As a manager.
So, that’s what’s happening. The book is having an effect internally, and they’re becoming better so things are becoming better for them. It’s so humbling and inspiring, as I’ve mentioned before, that this all came about and just am so excited to see what the future holds with so many more stories. It’s certainly the payoff that I see from people’s stories as they apply these principles. People want an internal change without you having to do all the work. Look, I’ve done all the work over the last 10 years. Give them the book and let those principles happen, and key measures. We talk about Becoming Your Best, is there needs to be a set time of, “Let’s debrief.” Let’s talk about certain chapters. Let’s take these pieces and how we can apply them this week or this month as an individual or organization. So, that’s what came to mind for me.
Rob: Yeah. Great thoughts. Well, you know, a couple things. We’re going to wrap this up.
Number one, we need to be bold and clear on this. This is going to be a new workshop and course with Becoming Your Best, The Liberty of Our Language. In other words, the power of our words, transforming our words, change our language, change our results. There is now an entire workshop that we’re adding to the Becoming Your Best options, along with the planning and execution, the 12 principles, the time management. There is an entire workshop that is devoted to this: the power of our language and the impact that it can have on our team. Half-day-full-day format, but this is going to be another one of the Becoming Your Best seminars. Thomas will teach that many times. He’ll be the one that leads that discussion often, when he’s available and not doing other seminars. But, this is something that can actually be done within the team and complement to getting the book.
So, as we get ready to wrap this up, Thomas, again, thanks for being on here today.
What’s the best way for the listeners to order multiple copies of the book for themselves and their spheres of influence?
Thomas: Yeah, I’m excited about this, Rob. If people just go to our website—becomingyourbest.com—they can just click on the Store, go into the Becoming Your Best Library, and they can get as many as they want.
Look, I tell people, “At least get five, because there’s you, but then you have at least a five-person sphere of influence, and as it’s larger, get them by the boxes because that’s just going to happen.” I have realtors that hand these things out as gifts, and they’re creating a whole environment.
So, go to becomingyourbest.com, click on Store. It’s right there in Becoming Your Best Library. As you mentioned, we’re also doing workshops around this, for organizations and individuals become their best by changing their language and changing their results. So, yeah. I’m excited to hear more stories and results from people.
Rob: It will be. You know, I’m excited for the people that do this workshop with their organizations and with their teams, because it’s mind-blowing. It really is. By the end of the day, people just walk out of there transformed and so introspective, just like that nephew that you described who’s a construction worker, came back and binge-watched Netflix. I mean, that was his life until he saw this thing differently. So, I’m excited about this. This is going to be a great addition to Becoming Your Best.
Thomas, again, thank you for being on here. You’re just an amazing person, and I think people get a sense for that already just after the short 30 minutes that we’ve had on this podcast. This is really the beginning of the journey. We’re going to do more podcasts with Thomas on some of these, and other things that are coming around this way, but I think the invitation from here is, go invest in the book for yourself, your team, and your family. Let’s hear some of your comments. We’d love to hear your feedback on some of your stories, just like Thomas mentioned, because—man—this stuff is a game-changer. I’ve seen it first-hand in my life and in the lives of my children, and certainly our team.
So, Thomas, thanks so much for being on the podcast, buddy. Great having you here. To all of our listeners, wherever you’re at in the world, remember that one person can make a difference—and that’s you. That’s the person. You’re the one who creates that ripple effect.
So, we wish you a great day and a fabulous week.