A couple of years ago my wife, Donna, told me about an idea she had heard. It was a very simple practice, but one that resonated with me immediately. Many of us are famous for making New Year’s resolutions, only to have forgotten them by February (or sooner). The idea she mentioned was simply to choose one word to live by for the entire year. I thought, “this is something I believe I can do, successfully”. Unlike “get a gym membership and work out five times a week” or “read fifty books a year”, this idea is aspirational. You just thoughtfully choose a word and then keep it in view as a reminder. This practice has proven to be helpful in my life.
The first year I chose the word “Discipline”. I knew this was an area I needed to work on in order to stay focused and organized in all my daily tasks. I put reminders on my phone and other devices so that at various times throughout the day the words “Be Disciplined” would pop up to encourage me. This concentrated effort has helped me develop some habits that I have continued to this day. It even helped me get into a consistent workout regimen!
Last year, my word was “Present”. It had been brought to my attention that I was not fully present or engaged with people all the time. I acknowledged this flaw, realizing that I was distracted, half-listening while thinking about the ten other tasks in front of me. So, by keeping this word close at hand, I believe I successfully had many high-quality conversations that probably would not have happened without the “One Word” reminder. By the way, I still have a long way to go before mastering the “Present” word, which brings me to my word for 2020.
For some reason, it has been more difficult choosing a word this year. I considered a couple of options and came very close to choosing until just yesterday, when another simple word occurred to me. It is related to, but different than “Present”. The word I have chosen for 2020 is “Listen”. In order to listen, one must be fully present, so I get to continue working on that word as well. I come from the world of sales. In sales, one of the most valued skills to acquire is intentional listening. By that I mean doing far more listening than talking. There is much to be gained by it.
In 2020, I hope to improve my ability to listen; to customers, team members, friends, family, and other leaders. But most importantly, I hope to quiet myself at times in such a way as to listen to the “still small voice” that is easily drowned out when I am busy or distracted.
I always enjoy hearing words that others have chosen. If you are willing, please share with me a word that you would like to live by in 2020.