Bottom line up front: My Three Words (Drumroll Please)
INSPIRE. LEARN. NETWORK
Like many things we humans fuss over, the concept of a New Year can be a wee bit scary.
“I didn’t do enough. I should have done more. I failed.”
I hear this quite often. It’s amazing how much angst we can shovel onto our souls at this time of year.
Mind you, January 1 is mainly similar to January 2 or 3. Days. Just days.
Some of you are “fast start” folks who tackle the New Year experience with gusto and zeal.
New systems. New processes. New habits. Get 50 things done this week, probably by Thursday.
Me? I prefer a more measured approach.
So, for the last decade or so, I’ve been intentional about figuring out three broad themes that are personally applicable in the year to come.
Then I distill those themes down to one word for each theme.
It’s a re-assessment of my calling in the context of my life and my work.
If you’re still getting familiar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started it in 2006.
A lot of other folks are doing this. Just plug a quick search for #my3words and see what others are doing.
It may sound simple, but it can be challenging. Two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three words are about right.
Year by year, I’ve checked back and assessed progress against my words. Last year, my words were Build, Reconnect, and Breakthrough.
And without me striving for any particular outcomes, all of this happened.
It’s downright uncanny how this type of broad visioning works – and it does.
There’s nothing magic or weird here. Instead, it’s a way to incorporate a small success system by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the coming year.
A recent article in Bain and Co. caught my attention. It reinforced an idea I’ve been observing for some time.
Simply put, it’s this:
We live and work in a new era—where traditional leadership models are missing the critical element that this era requires: inspiration.
INSPIRE : (From Merriam Webster)
This moving little word may be traced back to the Latin inspirare (“to breathe or blow into”), which itself is from the word spirare, meaning “to breathe.”
The definition of inspiration is the process of breathing life into new ideas. The very origin carries the sense that you can’t control or contain inspiration, like wind or air.
It evokes images from Genesis 2, where the Creator God breathes life into a lifeless form of man, shaped from the dust of the ground, and the idea of humankind becomes a reality.
Inspiration connects to more creative concepts, like motivation, ambition, and artistry.
When comparing motivation versus inspiration, think of them as an effect and a cause: motivation happens after you feel inspired and want to put your idea into action.
However, inspiration, like happiness, can be a learned skill supported by a personal system. There’s no natural one-size-fits-all-all system here.
The personal systems for inspiration that I cultivate and maintain may appear quite ordinary, even boring, to some.
However, if wisdom is proven right by its results, then bam! I rest my case.
Activities that support inspiration include proper sleep, rest, exercise, time in nature, meditation, and learning new things.
Keeping an Idea Journal helps!
Then there are people who inspire me. Not just any people. A network of family, friends, and colleagues who are genuine, positive. and have my best interest at heart. (Like my grandkids)
People who uplift, encourage, and sometimes call me on my BS.
I call them my “spark people”.
You know who you are – so thank you.
Somehow, inspiration and learning are siblings in my brain. I’ve never really gotten away from the “lifetime learner” posture.
Stepping away from a full-time CEO role to Executive Coaching and Advisory roles has been a perpetual learning curve.
Now, I’m helping to establish a charity foundation to address the pervasive housing crisis. Guess what! More learning.
My propensity to learn and grow in ways that help others is one of the things that keeps inspiring me.
This is both a noun and a verb that, in my case, involves people. It’s a carry forward of my last year’s word -Reconnect.
This is partly to restore the healthy people networks devastated by the Covid era.
80 % of whatever we do to sustain ourselves and grow happens because of our people network.
This coming year, I plan to reach out, grow, and expand my people network in new ways.
I interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or workout calendar.
Doing this keeps them front and center, pointing me toward my goals and grounding me in the interim work needed to achieve them.
REVIEW THEM DAILY
The more you review your 3 words, the better. They help me decide stuff. For example, “Should I say yes to this project?” or “Well, how does this align with my intent?”
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
Some of you have been asking about my words for months now.
(Right back at Atcha!)
1. Please shoot me a note about your words or share it wherever you like.
2. Use the hashtag #my3words to find other people’s shared experiences, and if you’re a last-minute person, don’t worry.
3. Start when you’re ready.
I look forward to seeing what this next year has in store for us all!
Until next time.