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The Power of Words, Faith, and Empathy with Amy Wolff

by | May 24, 2021 | Q&A

People often turn their heads away from encouraging words plastered on the streets. They scoff and think these words are nothing but cliché. After all, how can simple words heal gaping wounds? But this is exactly what Amy did. She changed people’s lives, and ultimately the world, with some yard signs and simple motivational words.

In this episode, we talk to Amy Wolff, a speaker, coach and founder of Don’t Give Up Signs about the power of words and empathy. She relays the story behind her viral yard signs that inspired and helped many people. Amy candidly shares the events that challenged her belief system and helped her become more empathetic to others. We also talk about faith, politics, and the importance of nuance. 

Listen to the episode if you want to know more about the power of words and empathy.

About Amy

Amy Wolff is a speaker coach, motivational speaker, and author of Signs Of Hope. She is the president of Distinction Communication, Inc. and the founder of the nonprofit Don’t Give Up Signs.

Behind the scenes, she is a mother of two daughters and a wife of her high school sweetheart. She loves house plants, vacuum lines in carpets, and using the power of words (spoken and written) as a vehicle to process the world around her—oppression, nuance, grief, spirituality, politics, and everything in between.

Connect with Amy through her website and on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. You may also email her at hello@amynwolff.com.  

To know more about Don’t Give Up Signs, visit their website. You can also check out their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
  1. Learn more about the inspiration behind the Don’t Give Up movement.
  2. Know about the events that changed Amy’s black-and-white belief system.
  3. Discover the power of words and the way we deliver it.

Resources

Episode Highlights

[02:46] About Amy

  • Amy is a speech coach at Distinction Communication, Inc. She provides one-on-one or small group speaker coaching. 
  • In 2017, she staked 20 uplifting yard signs with hopeful messages that started the Don’t Give Up Signs movement.
  • The Don’t Give Up Signs movement has been able to help people fight addiction, leave an abusive relationship, and even keep people from physically harming themselves. 

[06:07] Signs of Hope

  • At Amy’s small group in church, they talked about the high suicide rates in her town. Amy felt like she needed to do something to help. 
  • She printed yard signs and set them up anonymously. 
  • The signs worked because they invited people to have a moment of sovereignty. People who see these signs decide that it’s for them and take hope for themselves.
  • The signs went viral during her vacation with her family. They began to produce custom products in different languages. 
  • Amy got an email from a literary agent who encouraged her to write a book.

[15:42] The Signs’ Messages

  • All of the yard signs had “Don’t give up” written on them.
  • The first 20 signs that were put up had two different messages, namely, “You are worthy of love” and “Your mistakes do not define you.” 
  • The movement produced car decals, encouragement cards, postcards, pins, and even tattoos with these messages. 
  • The messages that sell most include “You matter,” “You got this,” and “We’re all in this together.”
  • Listen to the full episode to know more about the other messages in these signs!

[26:06] Amy’s Superpower and Kryptonite

  • Amy’s strength is loving people well.
  • She considers her ego as her kryptonite. 
  • Amy is outward with her opinions, doesn’t mind being vulnerable, and likes speaking. 

[29:04] Speaking at Church

  • If she speaks in a spiritual setting, she has a healthy fear of God. 
  • At church, she feels like she shouldn’t speak just words, but use the power of words for inspiration. 
  • Amy tempers a bit, not because of a religious spirit, but because she does not want her opinions to get in the way of her relationship with God.
  • Amy believes that God is calling her to hate her sin more than other people’s.
  • God wants Amy to stay humble and to love other people like He loves them.

[35:26] Moments That Changed Amy’s Belief System

  • Amy was sitting on her bed watching a YouTube video about two gay men speaking at Seattle Pacific University. The two men had opposing views on whether to act on their sexual desires. 
  • She realized that even if the men had different opinions, they still loved each other. 
  • At 14 years old, Amy lost her brother. She was never angry nor had any traumas due to the incident; she believes that God gave her a miraculous ability to bear the situation.  
  • Amy believed that experience solidified her faith and made her feel a sense of urgency in making her life count. 
  • Amy shares that her journey to understand people and their experiences is a slow, steady evolution. She advises us to be patient when we feel like someone isn’t getting where we’re coming from. 

[46:04] On Maturity

  • Amy believes that maturity is opening everything up to God.
  • It’s allowing God to touch, influence, correct, and rebuke everything. 

[48:05] What Is Nuance?

  • Nuance is when two things seemingly conflict, and yet they are both true.
  • Amy explains that nuance is like how God can be terrifying and full of anger but at the same time, he can be tender, approachable, and merciful. 
  • It’s not always black and white. 

[51:37] On Feminism

  • Amy remembers watching the women’s marches on TV, but she felt isolated and alienated because she is pro-life. Because of this, she did not want it to represent her. 
  • However, due to an unlikely friendship, she came to realize that opposing things can have a middle ground. 
  • Amy came to accept that she is a pro-life feminist. 
  • Even pro-life legislation is nuanced. There are some parts that Amy doesn’t agree with.
  • The challenge is to find a seat at the table for someone in the middle. 

[57:35] The Power of Words

  • Amy believed that language and how we speak matter. 
  • We tend to create cognitive distortions about people and what they say.
  • Amy learned to temper her language by leading with empathy and not defensiveness.
  • We see each other as humans; we understand that people are coming from different places. 

[1:04:43] Amy’s Book

  • Amy already had a manuscript of a different book about public speaking. 
  • In her two years of writing, Amy learned that walking through tragedy in her life helped her see hope, what helped, and what didn’t.
  • Signs of Hope is a collection of stories of other people encountering hope; it’s a book full of nuance.
  • She hopes that through her book, people feel empowered and challenged. 
  • She hopes that in reading the book during a moment of desperation, there’s hope that we can take off the page and find our own moments of sovereignty.

[1:09:03] Seeking with Amy

  • Even though Amy’s instinct is to go and take action, she chooses to seek. 
  • She has found that when she stops and goes slow, the journey becomes more fruitful, deep, and transformative.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

[32:34] “God told me, ‘Amy, I need you to hate your sin more than anyone else’s sin. And as long as you hate yours more and you don’t start to categorize and measure certain sins, I need you to hate yours more and stay humbled before me. And it will allow you to love other people like I love them.’”

[42:59] “I was forced to grow up really quickly but it benefited me in that I never was under the false assumption that I have forever.”

[45:03] “Here’s the slow, steady evolution of me learning, of me transforming the way I’ve judged people and evaluated people’s experiences. But that wasn’t instant; that was so slow in a huge transformation.”

[45:31] “Sometimes we need to be patient because the progress will be slow, but it will be deep and it will be real. So be patient with those in your lives that are slow to understand.”

[49:18] “There’s nuance—it’s not so black and white, yes or no, all in or all out, you’re either for me or against me. There’s nuance in the middle, and it’s very uncomfortable because you have to be willing to hold both and not evaluate or try to tip the scales.”

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