There is a boy on the 7th-grade football team I coach named Josh. He’s a good athlete. He can run the ball well, he’s a strong receiver, and he’s a great defender. He plays both running back and linebacker. And he is one of the most energetic and enthusiastic kids on the team. And I have a special affinity for energetic and enthusiastic types.
While Josh has a broad range of valuable football-related skills, one thing he doesn’t do very well is ride a bike. And unfortunately at the beginning of the season, Josh fell off his bike and broke his arm. Boo. He has been in a light blue cast, that extends to his upper arm since the second week of the season. I expect he inherited this biking inability from his father, Mike, whom I have known since we were athletes at the University of Wisconsin.
Despite the broken wing, Josh and his positive attitude come to practice every day. He helps the coaches run drills. He plays practice quarterback and hands off the ball for running back drills with his good arm. He cheers. He encourages. He laughs at my jokes. He has all the valuable intangibles.
On Saturdays during our games, Josh is in charge of the water. On most teams, this role is called the waterboy. But I never liked that term. It has always felt diminutive, even before Adam Sandler and Fonzy’s hilarious hit movie Waterboy. ( You can do it!)
The role of keeping our players hydrated during games is extremely important. And Josh approaches the role with such enthusiasm that I felt we needed to rename the position.
So on game days, we don’t call Josh the waterboy. We call him Aquaman.
The name is fun. It feels as important as the job really is. Just like the superhero Aquaman, Josh and his bottles of magic liquid have special powers that are used for good. Those bottles of water that Josh brings to his teammates on the field and on the sideline help the players in their moments of greatest need. In fact, there are many times during a game when the players need Aquaman more than they need the coaches. (Don’t tell Josh I said that, or he may get a big head and his bike helmet will no longer fit. And he needs that helmet.)
Names matter. They affect the way you think. They affect the way you feel. If you want more out of a role, consider the title you use for it. If you want people to love your product, service, process or place, carefully consider the name you give it. Perception is reality. And a more attractive name creates a more attractive brand. And better brands get better results.
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