Folks learning to speak English as their second language are known to complain about our propensity for homonym. Can we blame them?
Take the word proof. Among the abundance of potential meanings, online dictionaries define it as evidence or argument establishing or helping to establish a fact or the truth of a statement; as able to withstand something damaging; resistant; and, interestingly, to make fabric waterproof. OK, maybe these definitions hang together. But also proofing yeast (as opposed to proofing the shaped bread dough) refers to the process of first dissolving yeast in warm water to make bread.
Then, we warp the definitions to conform with our evolving modern lexicon. We attempt to prove our worth. We strive to prove our love. Yet, can we hope to advance evidence of our value? Can we make someone see our contribution? Or, do we waste our time talking about the doing instead of, well, doing the doing?
For now, let’s defer the semantics to a superior expert and focus on a simple example. We spend billions of dollars annually on attempting to prove we are sexy. We pile on lotions, potions and gallons of chemical compounds expecting to prove our attractiveness. The ubiquitous commercials aimed at teenage boys for Axe Body Spray seem to wink at this reality all-the-while selling tanker trucks of product to help these youngsters prove their worth. “Look at me.” “Smell me.” “Notice that I am here.”
The question remains: Can we prove any personal characteristic to anybody? Certainly, we can show that water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, can we generate sufficient “evidence” to show that we are sexy? Or valuable to a company? Or indispensable at home? If we attended to our actions as much as we do to those actions being noticed, would we accomplish more?