“I know what I mean, but I just don’t know how to say it?”

“I know what I mean, but I just don’t know how to say it?”

Are people right when they say, “I know what I mean, but I just don’t know how to say it?”

Frankly, I’m going to have to say, “NO, with a maybe.”

Here’s what I’m getting at— First, when talking about emotions, then YES, one can definitely not know how to say it. Love is like a red, red, rose is about the best we can do. Emotions are given to the vagaries of feelings, not the specifics of language. Love is not a thought, therefore it can’t be described in words.

Thoughts, in fact any thought, can absolutely be conveyed with words.

Here’s a little Your Brain 101:

* We have two basic processing systems in our cerebral cortex:

1.  We process or think in pictures.

2.  We process or think in words.

It is helpful to know this because we can use our brains properly. If you are trying to understand anything structurally (or something given to being pictured in any way), then using the canvas of your mind is huge. In fact, in recalling information nothing is more helpful. A picture is indeed worth a thousand (or ten thousand) words.

Thoughts themselves, however, are really for the domain of words.  Verba Sunt Indices Animi, which means “words are the indicators of the mind or thought.”  This points out that we basically think in words…and that…words tell us what we are thinking.

Words are the stuff thoughts are made of.  The common chatter is that we think in pictures…but the chatter is a myth because it is clearly half false.

All you need to do to appreciate this point is to speak to someone who has been blind since birth.  I’m sure they can picture something, somehow; but, really it is words they use to form their thoughts and communicate their understanding and insights.


What this comes down to is that it is really not possible to have clear thoughts and poor communication.  Since the thoughts themselves are dependent on words, the thoughts must be clear enough (in words) in our own heads.  I know this sounds mildly complex, but consider it this way—

When someone communicates and doesn’t make sense, you are most likely seeing a very clear communication of muddle thoughts, rather than a muddle communication of clear thoughts.

I mean really—How can someone have crystal clear thoughts, but have no ability to share outwardly the same words she thinks these thoughts with?


If you grasp this distinction in a deeper way, you will see the clear implication that you need only clear up your thoughts to become a far more effective communicator.  If people aren’t quickly grasping what you are saying, the FIRST place to look is your own mind.  It’s easy enough just to ask a couple of questions:

1.  Is my audience (or the other person) getting what I’m saying?

2.  Can I explain it to myself in a way that is crystal clear?

That get’s you a long way down the road as a communicator.


Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Mental Models and Creativity

Mental Models and Creativity

“I discovered that the best innovation is sometimes the company, the way you organize a company. The whole notion of how you build a company is fascinating.  When I got the chance to come back to Apple, I realized that I would be useless without the company, and that’s why I decided to stay and rebuild it.”

-Steve Jobs  (from Walter Isaacson, Steve Jobs)


Can You Really Think Crooked and Walk Straight?

The above question is about the most fundamental and transformational tool we humans have discovered for creating results—Knowledge + Communication…often seen in the Mental Models we use in our creating.  Too often we make the great mistake of attempting to deal with behavior before we sort out the thinking.  Frankly, if we still thought the earth was the center of the solar system, we wouldn’t have made it to the moon.

I’m confident your challenges are just a clear thought or two away from a fresh step towards a solution.

I am Dr. Fred Lybrand, a co-founder of TrimTab Solutions (a Coaching and Consulting firm, especially in the Energy Leadership sector www.trimtabsolutions.com) and have been speaking publicly since I was 14 years old…stumping for my dad who was a State Senator in Alabama during the George Wallace era.
My background in law, business, education, systems dynamics, and non-profit organizational leadership uniquely qualifies me to address the challenges and opportunities most organizations and individuals in the midst of change consistently face.

I’ve lived in Texas since 1983, and as an entrepreneur, private school co-founder, author, and a father of five (still married after 29 years :-), I am pretty sure I can address the audience with Southern humor, values, and vision.

In Coaching I have three forte’s that seem to consistently help others:

1.  Getting Unstuck (unraveling your mis-beliefs)

2.  Becoming Clear & Confident about an Important Decision

3.  Fresh Solutions to Stale Problems

…BUT…Fundamentally these issues are about Communication.  They are about communication with yourself.  It is quite a curiousity to see people admit that they are not great talking with others, or are worse talking with audiences…but they assume talking to themselves is easy!

THE SOLUTION: Play the game of looking at your problem / challenge as someone else.  How would Rocky Balboa solve your problem?  What about Steve Jobs?  What would Madonna suggest?  How about Einstein?  I find that the most powerful thing to do for someone else is to simply share my thoughts from where our sit…it’s like it shakes up the world and allows a new way to think.  Seriously, a quick path to the mental models we use in creating is to ask and answer the following:

What’s Your Problem?

What would your hero when you were growing up tell you about it?

My recent focus is in unravelling the challenges related to implementing a High Performance Management System (see Richard Palermo, HPMS, Do the Right Things Right, Strategic Triangle).  I’m also convinced that we have consistently missed the ball in dividing Managers from Leaders.  Please accept this gift of an interview my partner (Hermann Eben) and I just completed (Click):

How to Grow a Manager into a Leader

Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. This video below isn’t perfect quality, but it does underscore our challenge with how we think about things.  This was at a large high school assembly talking to kids about what makes real relationships work.  Relationships are not much different than anything else… they are all about how we think and the systems we employ.

Wake Up Leroy

Communication as Water in the Aquarium

Communication as Water in the Aquarium

In learning to be effective as a communicator, no matter if it is with others or yourself, it is vital to understand the essence behind this saying.

What do I mean by, “Communication is the Water in the Aquarium?”

Well, think about an aquarium.  It’s loaded with life.  The more exotic ones have corals and sponges and starfish and crabs, not to mention the great variety of neon-colored fish.  In fact, just adding clean water can help the whole tank get healthy:


Change 20% of the water daily for a week. Make this part of your weekly routine, don’t skip weeks. Your fishes health depends on it. Most tap water is safe to use. If you have a marine tank, obviously this doesn’t apply to you. Continually adding new water and removing water will improve your water quality and in turn your fish’s health. http://www.savemysickfish.com/diseases/

Communication is like the water in the aquarium is a way to realized that we often look at ‘sick fish’ and want to treat them directly…when it is the water that is making them sick.

Healthy water usually means healthy fish.  It is really the same with communication.  Adding a little improved communication every ‘week’ can change everything!

Healthy communication means healthy relationships and more productivity.  But, here’s the rub — you are IMMERSED in the water communication!  It is all around you and constantly affecting everything.

Immersion means that you are unaware, which means you have very little control.

Can you see it?  Isn’t this exactly what communication is about? We are immersed in it & it creates significant harm or health.  The difference is that we aren’t fish, we can do something about the water.

This is the power of communication and why we can be so helpful.  Just like a decent counselor or psychologist, a decent communication catalyst can make all the difference in the world.

We will help you, just stay in touch.

Fred Ray Lybrand

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