Discovering Your Purpose Through the Power of Words

by Kevin Hall

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Table of Contents


Growing up with fantasy stories like Harry Potter and The Kane Chronicles, I have always believed that there is magic in words. For example, in the Kane Chronicles, ren, the secret name, is the true name of the entity's soul. If someone were to gain access to one's secret name, the holder could gain power over the owner, so it is only revealed as a gesture of deep trust.

In the real world, there is also something magical about how words or language are constructed. For instance, Chinese characters are logograms that resemble the objects that the character represent. In the English language, a good amount of words are influenced by Latin and other languages. An example is the word, opportunity. The root of opportunity is port, which refers to the entrance by water into a city or place of business. When the tide and winds were right and the port opened, it allowed entry to do business, visit, or invade and conquer in the early days. However, only those who recognized the opening could take advantage of the open port, or opportunity. As we learn the stories of how certain words are constructed, we may gain deeper insights and affinities with the words that resonate with our character.

As Stephen R. Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People put it in the foreword of this book,

"There is a language of success and a language of distress. There is a language of progress and a language of regress. Words sell, and words repel. Words lead, and words impede. Words heal, and words kill. By truly understanding what words mean in their purest sense, we are able to unlock their importance and divine value and put ourselves in position to develop a new leadership vocabulary that looks up, not down, and inspires, motivates, uplifts, excites, and propels."

In this book, Kevin Hall has curated 11 words that he believes are core principles for personal development, constant improvement, and leading others.

If I have to pick a word out of the list, it will be Sapere Vedere.

11 Words

Self-Discovery and Personal Development

The first five chapters are about personal development, specifically how to use the secret power of words to help you find your path and purpose.

1. Genshai

Origin: Hindi

"The way I treat myself reflects the way I treat others.

When I treat myself with dignity and respect, it will be reflected in the way I treat others. If I treat myself with disdain and contempt, that will be reflected in the way I treat others.

I don’t see the world as it is. I see the world as I see myself."

Sometimes referred to as charity in English, it means that you should never treat another person in a manner that would make them feel small. Think of The Magic of Thinking Big.

One exemplar of Genshai is Dr. Viktor Frank, the author of Man's Search for Meaning and Holocaust survivor. Despite the circumstances he have been through in WWII, he chose meaning, responsibility, and contribution. He chose to be “worthy of his suffering,” he proved that we can rise above our fate by walking the noble path. He found hope amid a vast sea of hopelessness. In the face of overwhelming resistance, he refused to treat himself, or others, small.

2. Leader

Leaders are pathfinders. “lea”— means path, and the second part—“der”—means finder.

Leaders are interpreters of signs and clues. They see and show the path. Think Sapere Vedere. Before helping others find their path, they must know their path and purpose.

Hall recommends four things to recognize daily to stay on the path towards your purpose.

  1. People who appear on my Path to help me fulfill my Purpose.

  2. Actions taken on Opportunities. Be an activationist.

  3. Thoughts that help me create a life of Meaning and Significance.

  4. Moments of Happiness and Bliss.

People. Actions. Thoughts. Happiness. These spell PATH.

3. Namasté

Origin: Sanskrit

"I salute the Divine within you. I salute what you do best. I salute your natural gifts. I honor your uniqueness and your specialness."

Every person is an unrepeatable miracle. It is easy to forget our uniqueness in a cookie-cutter world.

"The world can and will hide our identity if we are not careful. Conformity, pigeonholing, focusing on flaws instead of greatness, conspires to disguise our God-given gifts, our Namasté, and distract and take us away from our true path and purpose. Instead of “To thine own self be true,” we become a character playing a part prescribed by others."

The key message is to recognize your talents and gifts. Don't bury your authenticity for the world. Dare to aspire, to stretch, and go higher in life. Share your unique talents and gifts with the world; they increase ripples from a pebble when dropped in still water.

4. Passion

"Passion is suffering for what you love most."

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every wall has a door.” In its purest form, passion, or the willingness to suffer for what we love, is often the door that leads us to our path and purpose.

Viktor Frankl said, “A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the ‘why’ for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any ‘how.’”

Knowing your 'why' can withstand all the 'hows'.

Hall said, "There are a lot of starters in the world. Starting is the easy part. The hard part is finishing. It is finishing that separates those with passion from those without it.

What meaningful quest have I left undone because I wasn’t willing to suffer and sacrifice for what I desired most?""

"Those with passion do; those without passion try."

5. Sapere Vedere

Origin: Latin

Sapere Vedere is about knowing how to see

Sapere Vedere is Leonardo da Vinci's motto. He attributed it as the secret of his genius.

Hall further describes, "Sapere vedere is three dimensional, a combination of hindsight, foresight, and insight."

People with sapere vedere look both forward and inward; they can believe and see what others cannot. Da Vinci understood that we truly see with our brain first, our heart second, and our eyes third.

The most crucial component of sapere vedere is purpose. We become pathfinders once we understand our purpose. Knowing what we want to do directs where we go and where we focus our attention. Our path is the way we travel. Our vision is where we travel. Our purpose is why we travel.

Constantly visualize the desired result and connect with your inner emotion to help you stay focused on your path. The ability to see with your mind, eyes and feel deeply with your heart is invaluable. The Law of Attraction applies.

As Aristotle taught, “The soul never thinks without a picture.” As I model to the universe that I know how to see, the universe will see to it that my dreams are fulfilled.

Mother of All Virtues

Hall considers humility, the central theme of this book, which he regards as the "Mother of All Virtues.” It is the key to growth and constant improvement.

6. Humility

The term "humility" derives from the Latin word "humus," which means "soil," specifically "rich, dark, organic soil." When a seed is planted in rich soil, it grows into something much larger. The acorn grows into the oak tree. The tiniest of seeds, carefully planted in the spring, yield a bountiful harvest in the fall. It all starts with the soil's nurturing quality—humus.

Humility is not about being passive and submissive. It is about living life in crescendo, with shoulders back and heads held high as we reach and stretch to become our best selves, then extend ourselves to assist others in doing the same.

Hall considers humility as the hub of the wheel, the solid core between self-mastery and leadership. We plant the seeds of success by getting grounded and rooted in humility.

Mastery is a lifelong pursuit. In earlier times, one would choose a trade and become an apprentice to a master to teach him the necessary skills. After learning everything he could, the apprentice becomes a journeyman and travels out to learn from other masters. Eventually, he becomes a master, and the cycle starts over again. However, a master never stops learning. A true master, no matter how many journeymen he may teach, continues to enlarge and expand his craft until the day he dies. The trait to learn from others as a beginner and the virtue to continue learning and grow by unlearning obsolete skills when you are already a master is humility.

Always have a beginner's mindset.

Leading Others

The remaining five words speak the language of leadership: it's not about you, it's about them. Think Outward Mindset / Empathetic Mindset.

7. Inspire

The word, inspire, comes from the Latin “inspirare.” “Spirare,” means to breathe, and “in” implies into. To inspire is to breathe into.

When we inspire others with their hopes, goals and dreams, we breathe life into them.

Words are the currency in our human exchanges. The skill we can develop with the appropriate use of words can provide us great power and influence. Instead of “What can I get?” our mentality shifts to “What can I give?”

Always seek to inspire, encourage and leave other better off for having met you.

8. Empathy

“Pathy” comes from path, and “em” is in. Empathy is walking the path of another.

If you don’t get on another’s path, if you don’t go where they have gone, you can’t truly understand what that person is experiencing.

In this chapter, Hall offered some tips for better communication.

  1. Never assume anything.
  2. Communicate with the Commander's Intent; By communicating the purpose behind a plan, others can act toward that goal without the need of constant communication.
  3. Be an empathetic listener

9. Coach

Someone or something who carries a valued person from where they are to where they want to be.

Coaches point out sharp turns, potholes, hazards, and pitfalls on the road. They avoid dead ends and unnecessary detours while safely navigating us to our desired destinations. And they are crucial in assisting us in determining our path and purpose.

With the aid of good coaching, we can accomplish a lot. To go to someone who is at the very top of the learning curve and be tutored by them is an invaluable experience.

Effective coaching emphasizes strengths and abilities, not weaknesses and disabilities. When you give people validation, it gives them power; it enables them to do remarkable things.

Coaching is reciprocal. To teach is to show. When you teach a skill to another, you learn it twice. Sharing knowledge and experience with others reap exponentially more benefits. You will gain a sense of contribution and contentment that cannot be achieved in any other way.

10. Ollin

“Ollin” is derived from “yollotl,” meaning heart, and “yolistli,” meaning life. “Ollin” means to move and act now with all your heart. It means to follow your path in life wholeheartedly.

To experience Ollin, we have to get “All in.”

The Aztecs believed that wearing your heart on your face would allow your eyes to open and allow you to see more clearly. When we see our path clearly, we move with greater purpose and intent. We proceed with an open and committed heart. The Aztecs referred to it as an Ollin heart.

"Those who practice Ollin and expand their comfort zone don’t approach life as spectators. They get off the sideline and start playing the game. They take control of their life. Instead of seeing themselves as thermometers, at the whim of the external environment, they see themselves as thermostats, capable of regulating and controlling the environment that surrounds them."

Jump into purposeful action wholeheartedly to accomplish your Magnum Opus.

11. Integrity

The term "integrity" is derived from the Latin word "integer," which refers to a whole number. The integrity of one’s word means our word is whole and complete. Being whole and complete with our word means living one hundred percent of our word all of the time.

A life of integrity also means taking in, accepting, and embracing help, psychological support, and advice. In technology, an integrated circuit combines all the necessary components into one whole. When we connect with others and share each other’s strengths, we have an integrated circuit running through our lives.

Surround yoursevles with like-mined people who are growing, improving, learning, and making a difference and always live true to your word.

Other Words

Hall also included the etymology of other words.


The Germanic root of the word "believe" means "to hold dear" or "to love". When I believe in myself, I love myself. When I love myself, I treat myself with respect.


“Spect” is to look at. “ Re” is back. “ Respect” is to look back at.


"Autos" means self. "hentes", means being. "Authentic" means being yourself.


"Re” is again, and “cognize” is a derivative of “cognizant,” which means to know. Recognize means to know again. Recognizing your natural gifts is like meeting an old friend. It feels like coming home. And you are coming home; you are coming home to your authentic, genuine self.


“Nature” comes from the Latin “natura,” which means to be born or to give birth.


“Abundance” originated from the undulation and bounty of the sea. Each wave carries the anticipation of another succession of waves, attesting that nature gives all and loses nothing.


“Fulfillment” also comes from water. A vessel cannot overflow until it is filled first.


The Romans believed that everyone had a guiding spirit with them throughout their lives. Because this spirit was born alongside the person, it was called a "genius."

Genius, in other words, refers to the "genie within you."


The word "sacrifice" comes from the Latin "sacra,"" which means sacred, and "fice," which means to perform. To sacrifice is to perform the sacred.


Compassion combines “com,” or with, and “passion,” or suffer. “Compassion” is to suffer with another.


“Wisdom” comes from “wissen,” which means I know what I saw.


"Vision” comes from “vissen,” which means I know what I see.


The original word for fireplace was "hearth," which means "heart." Previously, the hearth was the location of all important events. The heat from the home came out of the hearth. The hearth was where meals were prepared. Around the hearth, meaningful conversations took place. It served as the home's focal point or heart.


“Resilience” is derived from the Latin word “resilire.” “Re” means back, and “salire” is to leap. When we are resilient, we leap back up after getting knocked down.


Cresendo is a derivative of “crescere,” an Italian word that originated in the eighteenth century, which means to increase or grow.


“Success” comes from the Latin “succeder” and means to come up through. The middle part of the word, “cede,” is an offshoot of “seed.” When a seed pushes through the dirt, or humus, into the daylight, it follows a path of success and succession.


A Latin word that stands for unconquered, unsubdued, invincible.


The word “praise” comes from the Old French “preiser” which means price or value. When we praise others, we add value to them, to their lives, to their dreams.


“Communication” comes from the Latin “communicare,” which means to share in common. To share in common requires coming together on common ground.


“understand” means to stand among. It doesn’t mean to stand beneath or below. It means to stand with.


In Japan, a “sensei” is one who has gone farther down the path. In martial arts, it is the designation for master.


In Sanskrit, a “guru” is one with great knowledge and wisdom. “Gu” means darkness, and “ru” means light—a guru takes someone from the darkness into the light.


In Tibet, a “lama” is one with the spirituality and authority to teach. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the highest-ranking teacher.


In Italy, a “maestro” is a master teacher of music. It is short for “maestro di cappella,” meaning master of the chapel.


In France, a “tutor” is a private teacher. The term dates to the fourteenth century and refers to one who served as a watchman.


In England, a “guide” is one who knows and shows the way. It denotes the ability to see and point out the better course.


In Greece, a “mentor” is a wise and trusted advisor.


“Validate” comes from the Latin “valere,” which means to be strong. In the eyes of the law, “valid” means to be legally acceptable. When you are validated, you are given strength, power, and authority.


The Hungarian word for one-weighted focus. It calls for putting all your weight behind what you are doing, and if you don’t, you run the risk of falling into the pitfalls associated with indecision and inaction.


“Resolve” comes from the Latin “resolvere,” and means to loosen.


“Procrastination” comes from the Latin “pro,” meaning forward, and “crastinus,” signifying tomorrow. This corrosive form of inactivity deceives many into believing that they will somehow move forward tomorrow.


Progress is made one step at a time. “Pro” means forward, and “gress” is to move. When we make “progress” in life, we move forward on our journey.

Magnum Opus

Great work. “Magnum” is a Latin word for great. “Opus” means work.

Other Ideas

Abundance Thinking

"Abundance is my birthright. I need to think abundantly. It’s time to release the potential within. It’s time to begin my own heroic journey.

As I reflect Genshai to myself, the world will reflect it back."

Think Abundance Mindset


"Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded."

It makes my day when I see it.
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