Luggage or Baggage? The Power of Language.

When you go on holiday (or vacation if you’re from the USA), do you pack luggage? For a work trip, might you refer to it as baggage? Did you ever think about the subtle difference?

I remember this coming up during executive coaching training a few years back. I can’t exactly remember the discussion, the context, or who brought it up, but it was one of those moments where the power of language really hit home.

Baggage has a negative, or at best neutral, tone to it. Something you drag around. Probably a broken wheel or two or a dodgy handle. You can apply this to the everyday ‘stuff’ we carry around with us that doesn’t serve us well, like resentment, regret, disappointment, and such other clunky things that slow us down. All this can add up and drain our energy, if we choose to keep dragging it around with us all day, every day.

On the other hand, when you think luggage, there is a more optimistic and positive connotation. Luggage has that holiday vibe to it. You’re going places with luggage. No broken wheels here. Things are in order. There is a place for everything. You’re probably even leaving room in your case to bring back something new from the adventure. Parallel this to your mindset on any given day or the self-talk you have going on in your head. Luggage is upbeat, confident, and not sapping the energy from you near as much, if at all.

One of the many gifts I learned (and continue to learn) from developing my coaching skills, is how powerful words and language can be. Words by themselves are just a few letters assembled together. On the face of it, they shouldn’t hold so much power. Yet, as we’ve grown to derive meaning, leading to thoughts, and then emotions, from this language, we’re dealing with a very powerful thing. Developing a greater awareness of how this works, for myself, and when working with others, is a huge step forward, in the right direction. Once you’re more aware of it, you’re in a better place to do something about it.

What’s your default when it comes to baggage or luggage? How about other words you use in every day speak? Are there more positive versions of words you might use that could lead to a positive shift in your mindset?

My time is up. Hope this one made some sense.

Till tomorrow.

Rob is a qualified Executive Coach (ICF) and has been Mentoring and Coaching over the last decade in various roles held during his career. In 2017, Rob launched the Rob of the Green Platform which hosts the 1% Better Podcast. Rob currently is a director of Project Management and Leadership Coaching at Dell in Cork, Ireland. Rob also publishes articles on productivity, leadership, goal setting, meditation, and other topics, like this one!

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