We all have moments when we are in a situation where a voice pops IS you; it can create an important lesson as well as make a powerful impact.

I learned this lesson a number of years ago when I was speaking at a conference for MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. No group has done more to change the laws and educate the public about the consequences of drunk driving more that the dedicated women and men of MADD.

The audience was filled with people whose lives had been forever changed by a drunk driver.  Many of the women and men in the audience wore a button with the picture of their child or a loved one who was killed by a drunk driver. During my presentation, I was retelling the story about the time my car was hit in a “Drunk driving accident.”  It was a miracle; no one got hurt.

A woman who was seated halfway back in the audience stood up and walked up to the stage.  As a professional speaker, I had never had this happen to me before.

The woman stated, “My name is Beth and my daughter, Lacey was killed by a drunk driver.  It was not an accident, it was a drunk driving crash.  These events do not happen by accident, they can be prevented.  A drunk driver crashing into our car killed Lacey.”  With that she took a sticker with the word “Crash” on it and placed it on my lapel.

As Beth left the stage, the audience rose to their feet and applauded for Beth and the action she had just taken.  I gathered my thoughts and responded with, “Thank you, Beth.  I will never use the words drunk driver accident ever again.  I will say drunk driver crash.  Plus anytime I hear someone use the words drunk driver crash, I will tell them about what just happened here.   As you did for me, I will educate them and hopefully change behaviors.”

I got it.

After I finished my statement regarding Beth’s actions, the audience once again applauded, honoring the moment that just took place.

This experience taught me that words are powerful and that they matter.  We need to understand what labels and references mean to others and how we can address an issue correctly. One of our tasks as leaders, team members, friends, and parents is to educate others and change behavior in a positive way.

I admire the action that Beth took when she marched to the front of the stage and created a powerful moment of understanding.