YOUR THREE WORDS – GOT ‘EM YET?
I was recently invited to speak to a group of Real Estate professionals about “What Success Looks Like For You.” The organizers asked me to share based on my decades of business and leadership experience.
This presentation was a part of their annual planning and strategy for their business.
Having begun my year-end review, this request was an excellent opportunity to reflect on the ups and downs of my own leadership adventure.
The funny thing is that after my seventy-plus trips around the sun, I don’t have any particular strong feelings about being successful.
I know the alternative really sucks, so it’s more about having a “success journey” than having arrived.
Examples of “success” in any field if examined, come after a ton of hard work, sacrifices made and obstacles overcome over extended periods of time.
I wrote more about that here if you’re interested.
Admittedly, there are some very cool things I was privileged to be a part of. Even got some recognition along the way.
However, what jazzes me the most is navigating the here and now while looking ahead with a strategic intent to whatever is next. (hence the Blogpost title- Hey, What’s Next!)
All the people I regard as successful have found the fulfillment of a calling, – something deeply personal and meaningful that energizes them and keeps them going.
My “more vintage” perspective is that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, winning/losing and sense of calling never stops.
Much of life and leadership success is keeping going with what you love and capitalizing on second chances.
As long as we are still topside, till the very end, there is always another chance.
That’s why I love each New Year.
It allows me to see things from a fresh perspective, set the tone and make room for change.
Back To The Presentation:
After some personal introductions, it was obvious that I was with a group of bright, motivated business practitioners who were highly committed to their craft.
They had already achieved what most would consider a fair measure of success.
When I asked the question about their “why,” they all had a remarkably similar response.
Foremost was a genuine love for service to others with their particular skill set.
Beyond that, a deep appreciation for their co-workers and a vibrant workplace culture that drew them in and kept them there.
A third aspect was the personal freedom that this line of work afforded.
Their responses aligned closely with the Japanese concept of “Ikigai” (pronounced ee-kee-guy), which roughly translates to “the thing you live for” or “purpose, meaning, or calling.”
It’s much more nuanced and robust than the North American concept of pursuing your dream or following your passion.
It answers four basic questions 1. What do you love doing? 2. What are you really good at? 3. What does the world around you need? 4. What can the world pay you for?
Finding Success In My Calling
I re-assess my calling every year. It’s a part of my “three-word” exercise.
Some folks stress about “finding their calling. “
In my instance, it was my calling that found me.
I’m a builder at heart. As a kid, I had a fascination with building things.
Whether it was building a tree fort, an airplane from an apple crate, or a box kite so big it would lift me off the ground. That one really freaked my parents out.
The point is I loved building things.
After some vocational detours into teaching and marketing, I settled into a career in building things. Houses, stores and restaurants, apartments, you name it. I loved the whole process of providing people with a home.
Then a career-ending injury forced a change of plans.
For quite some time, I felt devastated and at times, quite despondent.
Gradually, with the help of influential friends and mentors, I discovered that the basics of being a good builder were readily transferable to building other things.
Opportunities and second chances came knocking. I had the privilege of working with others to build entire organizations, systems, and communities.
Fast forward to the present.
While circumstances and venues might change, the calling hasn’t changed.
As an Executive Coach and Consultant, I can co-create, scale up, and build things together with others.
Make Room for Change
That’s what the annual Three Words are about.
My challenge every January is to come up with three words representing the year’s strategic directions. It may sound simple, but it can be challenging. Two isn’t enough, and four’s too many, so three words are about right.
There’s nothing magic or weird here. Instead, it’s a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in the coming year.
That’s why I’ve thoughtfully selected three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re still getting familiar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.
A lot of other folks are doing this. Just plug in #my3words and see what others are doing.
I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, and what has not. Also, what needed to be clarified and what needed to be added. But more importantly, I try to understand what I want the coming year to look like.
Sometimes, the words come out of my goals, so I’ll jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.
I usually discuss my goals and three words with my wife and several close friends.
That’s always helpful.
It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together, and no matter what goals I have or the words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.
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.
My words are keys to positive change in the coming year.
I’ve settled on:
Build: It’s a noun and a verb that packs some intention into what I do. Builder fits my role as a coach and consultant. My job is to come alongside my colleagues and clients, survey the landscape, lay a sure foundation, assess risks, recommend paths of action, and start following the blueprint. It fits my calling, and that makes sense.
It’s in my DNA. Sometimes it’s people or a team that needs building. Sometimes it’s a physical structure. But, of course, that’s always fun too.
Reconnect: This is self-explanatory. The circumstances of the past several years have meant I’ve lost touch with way too many folks. I’ve always relied on the benefits of networking. It’s so much more than developing valuable contacts. Networking gives me access to something bigger—the insights and knowledge of others. These insights, in turn, can spark creative thinking, leading to new ideas, products, and solutions. Who can say no to that?
Breakthrough: There are some long-term situations that I’ve been working on where things haven’t materialized the way I hoped. This one’s the hardest for me to explain because it’s personal. Achieving a personal breakthrough can be a challenging process, but it is also very gratifying. We’re all unique, so the steps to a personal breakthrough will look different for everyone, including me. Timing is also different for everyone, so it may need patience. Meanwhile, I’ll maintain a positive mindset, surround myself with a supportive network and hang in there.
This one is the most complicated of all 3, but it’ll make for an exciting year if it happens.
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?”
What Are your Words for 2023?
It’s your turn:
1. Please send me a note 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!
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