Powerful Words and Actions: They Really Do Matter!

Powerful Words and Actions: They Really Do Matter!

The Five Practices

Madden Humphreys gained a lot of attention a few summers ago after he made a video encouraging people to be nice to each other. Madden was then a spunky 7-year old. Born with a cleft palate as well as heterochromia irdum—a rare eye condition that causes the iris to be multicolored—he was bullied by his classmates because of those differences. In response, Madden created this anti-bullying video that offers all of us an opportunity to learn more about using powerful words to encourage each other.



“You are something magical,” Madden says to viewers. ”You are one of a kind.”

 At times, children say things that are so full of wisdom, and sometimes in words only a kid would say (reminiscent of the long-running TV show, “Kids Say the Darndest Things”). For example, one of my favorite messages in Madden’s video is when he suggests that, “You’re missing out on a lot of awesome people if you’re being a poophead to them.” So….”Don’t be a poophead!” Good advice…right?

Madden and his family live by their belief in showing everyone (and everything) kindness, as their story has continued to demonstrate. Recently Madden’s mother, Christina, became aware of a tiny kitten that had been taken in by a rescue group in Minnesota. Like Madden, the kitty was born with a cleft pallet and heterochromia irdum. And, the kitty’s eyes were the same different colors as Madden’s.


“We’re usually not spontaneous people, but we knew that we were meant to love this kitty,” Christina commented on her blog. So, with money raised by friends, family, and strangers, Madden and his family traveled from their home in Oklahoma to Minnesota to adopt this special kitty that Madden named Moon.

“Moon, the kitty, and Madden are the perfect companions for each other,” Christina wrote. “In a word full of bullies and hateful words, we will choose to chase love. I think it’s safe to say that this kitty is love, and was certainly meant to be part of our journey and Madden’s journey.”

Some of you may wonder what this has to do with leadership. I believe that each of us can learn from Madden and his life of practicing kindness. Harmful words, whether they are said on the playground or in the boardroom, are not beneficial to anyone. They are hurtful and cause more harm than good. Instead, when we choose to use powerful words and actions, we encourage each other. We provide positive energy to Enable Others to Act and help them reach their greatest heights. This is a fundamental leadership principle—that leadership is a relationship.

As acknowledged by Madden’s mom, “In a world full of bullies and hateful words, chase love.” At the very least…don’t be a ‘poophead’!


Lawandra Smith
, a Certified Master of The Leadership Challenge®, has worked in public sector organizations for over 27 years. She is currently an Advance Leadership Specialist with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS), delivering The Leadership Challenge® Workshop to middle and executive management across the state, and can be reached at Lawandra.smith@dfps.state.tx.us

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