Richard M. DeVos is one of two founders of the Amway Corporation and is chairman of the Orlando Magic National Basketball Association team. He is a successful businessman and author of several books on success in business. He is also a noted motivational speaker. He has a strong background in positive human relations. Now in his 80s, he has spent decades practicing and observing the impact of these traits.
The book was written in order to pass these “magic” phrases along to others—to show people how to be positive and encouraging in their lives.
The book was written in order to pass these “magic” phrases along to others—to show people how to be positive and encouraging in their lives. He motivates the reader with simple but life-changing practical lessons rooted in his real-life experiences.
DeVos summarizes the value of these phrases in his introduction: “Although people seem to need to vent and grumble at times, they are drawn to the positive and will follow those who blaze a positive trail… Finding fault is easy and a natural instinct. Maybe it’s because we’re taught to be skeptical. We know that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is…
“A positive attitude is a choice, like walking to the other side of a street to avoid trouble, or making a 180-degree turn when you feel you’re headed in the wrong direction. Once you decide to make that choice, being positive becomes a habit… Making the first move to be positive is a trait of great leaders… A simple line spoken in the right spot in the right way can change a person’s life.”
In regard to our need to focus on the good and the positive, DeVos cites Philippians 4:8-9 Philippians 4:8-9  Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
 Those things, which you have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.
American King James Version×as very important to this perspective. “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you” (New Revised Standard Version).
Citing this scripture as central gives you a very good idea about the basis for the book and what is coming. The concepts are all basic Christianity.
A separate chapter is devoted to explaining and illustrating the value of each phrase. While they are basic and might seem obvious, many of the phrases are all too often overlooked or underestimated.
(1) The first of the 10 powerful phrases is “I’m wrong!” It is put first because, according to DeVos (and experience verifies it), “It’s the hardest thing to say and genuinely mean. It’s hard to admit it to yourself, let alone to others.” Yet the phrase can serve as an example of our willingness to change and can inspire others. It is also the beginning of a healing process, where people have been wronged, or feel they have been wronged.
The reality of admitting mistakes is liberating for us and others; it is a mark of maturity. Wrongs are inevitable, so denying their existence only creates arrogance and strife. DeVos states, “Summoning the courage to say, ‘I’m wrong. You were right. I’m sorry and please forgive me’ shifts our attitudes and opens us to healthy benefits as we look for ways to be positive.”
Try it! You’ll find it’s not as daunting as you might imagine and it will keep getting easier!
(2) The second powerful phrase is “I’m sorry!” In addition to saying “I’m wrong,” you have to be sorry for it. You have to let the person know you are sincerely sorry for what you did. It’s easier to try to defend our position, but it’s amazing how many problems disappear once we decide to say “I’m sorry!”
“I’m wrong” and “I’m sorry” are companions. They’re both truly healing phrases. But for most people, they have to be learned and are difficult to say. DeVos also points out that there are a lot of things you can be sorry about without being wrong about them too. “I’m sorry you are having a tough time on your job, in your marriage, etc.” Life is full of events where the phrase “I’m sorry!” can be powerful.
“A simple line spoken in the right spot in the right way can change a person’s life.”
(3) Third on the list of powerful phrases is “You can do it!” Most people don’t have a very positive outlook on life or feel very positive about their ability to succeed. An affirmation that “you can do it (with God’s help)” is vital for success in a Christian life—and life in general. As parents, we need to create a positive atmosphere in our home. People need to know that they can be successful. God creates a positive atmosphere for all His children, which encourages them to succeed.
(4) Closely connected with the third phrase is the fourth one—“I believe in you!” It is a more personal phrase than “You can do it!” We can demonstrate “I believe in you” through our actions as well as our words. Everyone has a tendency for self-doubt—doubts reinforced by negative comments. Negative opinions expressed by others have a detrimental effect on most people. It is a true saying that most people live up to—or down to—expectations.
Our children are very much in need of hearing “I believe in you.” Advising and mentoring sends a message that we believe in them. Instead of jumping all over them for a low grade, discuss why a grade might have dropped and how it can be improved. This shows you believe that they can do better and encourages them rather than discourages them. We show people we believe in them when we support their endeavors or causes. Belief in a person encourages him to try. A person never knows what he can do until he tries.
(5) Another very important phrase people hear all too infrequently is “I’m proud of you.” People will try to get the attention of and acknowledgment of those they look up to. Children will say, “Watch me, Mom!” “Look at what I am doing, Dad!” Probably the most powerful thing we can say to our kids, next to “I love you,” is “I’m proud of you!”
But “watch me!” is not merely kid stuff. Our need and desire to receive the recognition of those who mean the most to us goes on for a lifetime! Unrecognized achievement can quickly kill incentive and cause discouragement. Recognition encourages our God-given desire to do our best, to do more than we thought possible.
It’s amazing how even the smallest gesture of thanks has incredible power to make people feel needed and valued.
“I’m proud of you” is especially uplifting for people who typically don’t win the awards and rewards of life, who may doubt their abilities and have a tough time finding something to feel good about. That is why it’s doubly important for teachers, parents and pastors to find ways to say “I’m proud of you!” God even said it about Jesus Christ: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17 Matthew 3:17And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
American King James Version×).
(6) Sixth of the 10 powerful phrases is a simple “Thank you!” This is an acknowledgment of another person’s generosity. It recognizes the kindness and effort a person made to think of us. “Thank you” says we appreciate a job well-done and the time someone devoted to perform for us or provide a skilled service. It’s amazing how even the smallest gesture of thanks has incredible power to make people feel needed and valued. Saying or showing thanks are expressions of our love or kind thoughts about an individual.
Feeling thankful is great—but it isn’t enough. We have to express thanks in words or in gestures of appreciation. People not only like to be thanked—they need to be thanked. We’re often too slow to give thanks and too quick to complain. Thankfulness expressed is a key to a more positive family, church and society.
“There are two types of people—those who enter a room and say, ‘Here I am!’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are!’”
(7) Next on the list of phrases is “I need you!” Everyone has a deep need to feel needed. They need to know others consider them valuable. Think of all the people you need, who play an important part in your life. How often do you stop to tell them that you needed them? “I need you” acknowledges that each person has a vital part to play in life. As the apostle Paul said, every part of the body performs a vital function.
When we know we are needed, we feel better, perform better and want to do even more. It is vital for leaders, especially in the Church, to be able to say or convey the message “I need you!” People who feel needed tend to get their minds off themselves and on helping others, which further aids in their growth and service.
(8) The eighth phrase states, “I trust you!” The success of any group depends on being able to trust its members to do a good job, to be honest, to keep their word. Trust is a key quality of leadership, being trustworthy, inspiring and honoring trust in others. Children need to know they can trust parents. Parents need to know they can trust their children. Trust is developed through experience. Without trust, the “wheels come off” any group, be it a family, congregation, church or nation.
(9) The ninth phrase is “I respect you.” Using the phrases in this book really comes down to showing respect for everyone we know and meet. Once we begin to look for the positive in everyone and seek out qualities we respect about each one, showing respect becomes a habit. You will find that respect is reciprocal. Earning and showing respect begins with listening to people.
DeVos says, “There are two types of people—those who enter a room and say, ‘Here I am!’ and those who come in and say, ‘Ah, there you are!’” We need to be the second type. Showing respect begins with simply forgetting about ourselves for a moment and being aware of the other person.
Respect is also at the heart of successful relationships, from marriage and family to the Church. DeVos makes this astute observation: “A business, relationship, or any organization without respect for its members is doomed to failure. An organization that changes from one in which members work together with respect to one of self-interest and internal squabbles is on a downward spiral.” Only a change in direction can bring it back.
(10) The tenth is simply “I love you!” This phrase encompasses all the others. It sums up what God is, and it should be what we are striving to become. Learning to express that love is harder than having it. DeVos points out that there are many ways to say “I love you” other than verbally. Some ways are a hug, a pat on the back or a gift.
It is especially powerful when expressed to children. Conveying love makes them feel secure. Unfortunately some cannot bring themselves to say “I love you” to their children or anyone else. They may not be able to bring themselves to say what they feel, or perhaps they don’t take the time to show it. The most important place to express love is within our own family, and the next most important is within our Church family.
The book is well-written. Its concepts are important and the practical advice it offers is worthwhile. Learning to use these 10 phrases well can make us all more effective in serving each other. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver” (Proverbs 25:11 Proverbs 25:11A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
American King James Version×).