The Power of ONE WORD for leaders.
It’s a very popular activity to start out your year choosing one word to represent your primary focus for that year. So popular, in fact, that in 2012 the book One Word That Will Change Your Life was released. Choosing one word to define your year is a great way to focus your year and encapsulate a short-term timeframe.
Having a “word for the year/month/week” can certainly bring greater productivity. And using One Word to guide a theme can shift you into high gear.
The beauty of this is simplicity. What often deters us from achieving our goals is distraction and chaos. By choosing One Word–and keeping it front and center of all you do–your actions will follow that focus and successful progress will occur. You will find decisions become easier and actions are amplified. Distractions that don’t support your One Word must be abandoned. Check in with yourself and ask, “What’s my one word for this year/month/week?” Sounds easy enough, right? In theory, yes, and yet… Well, let’s share an example.
In one of our former CEO Mastermind groups, I asked the CEOs to think about their One Word for the upcoming year. The group dove in and participated.
Words flowed: Determined, Radical, Endurance, Launch, Focus, Growth, Persistence, Service.
One person said, “Be the Change.” This leader had been thinking a lot about this. While a three-word phrase, she really felt it embodied what she wanted to accomplish.
Well, I called her out in pretty short order: “Nope, it has to be one word. If you can’t commit to one word, you won’t get the big result.” She began to argue her case. The group offered up multiple One Words that they thought would work. She shot down each one. I finally dropped it for the sake of keeping the session moving forward.
But this leader couldn’t let it go. She knew at her core that I was right. However, each single word she settled on didn’t fit. The word “Change” by itself felt to her like SHE had to change. That wasn’t her aim. She viewed the word through a negative connotation.
She went to Facebook and solicited the opinions of any friends who wanted to chime in, and an incredible number of them did.
That process was rather enlightening. First, her friends were generous in offering insight, encouragement and unapologetic opinions. Second, she realized she needed to own this and not look to others for resolution.
It took a few weeks as she grappled with different meanings (and perceived meanings) of each One Word she tried. One day, she woke up and realized that she was no longer concerned about other people’s impressions or interpretations of her One Word. She resolved that it was HER motivation and no one else’s. Bravo, she got it!
I know you’re curious about the actual word she chose–it was SHINE.
To her, this word represented being a light in a sometimes dark place, serving as a guide to help people tap into the positive side of their potential. The specific word isn’t the point of this story. And yes, I am getting to a point.
As soon as she determined to SHINE—I mean literally—a series of events unfolded over the next year to confirm that this was the perfect word to create ideal focus in her. She was called to shine in many ways that first month and beyond, in personal and professional ways.
While she has continued to select a new word each year, she continues to shine for herself, for her loved ones, for her friends and for her clients.
The ONE WORD is waiting to choose YOU. Just get quiet enough to hear what it is.
If you’re struggling, don’t be shy—ask for the input of others you trust such as family, friends, Mastermind group or a coach.
And then what? Keep it in front of you daily. Remind yourself why you chose it. Ask yourself during challenges as well as opportunities, which choice allows me to honor my chosen focus?
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