I just sat down with Max to talk about his New Year’s Resolutions, which will focus on what my high-school sophomore needs to do to get himself to the next level athletically (e.g., diet, skills) and academically.
I’m a big believer in the three-legged stool. Easy to remember, easy to focus on. We’re going to keep Max to three resolutions and for me, it will be continuing to embrace the Chris Brogan philosophy of “3 Words,” which are different from resolutions.
Chris (and many others) publish posts this time of year outlining the “three words that sum up what you want to work actionably on changing/improving in the coming year. It works best when the words are positive in spirit and not negative. ..the idea is to look deeper than a single goal and try to give you an entire mindset to contemplate. The Heath Brothers in their book, Switch, talked about needing three elements to bring about change: a rider (your plans and intents), the elephant (what your mood will do no matter what your plans say), and the path (the environment within which you intend to implement those changes). The concept of the three words is like the path. Think of a word that gives you the HUGE picture, not the small picture.”
Going into 2013, my words were Publish (a repeat from 2012), Legacy, and Now. Although I had some real successes, I don’t think I did a good job integrating that mindset (except for the fact perhaps that I obsessed a lot about my failure — or inability — to bring about the change). I had some success building and implementing a social-media content strategy that focused less on ego metrics (Impressions and Likes) and more on being helpful (more on that in a near-future post). I dropped 30+ pounds. And I began asking (and sharing) a question — Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze? — that resonated with teammates and business partners. And yet, I don’t feel that I gained significant traction, in part because I didn’t always change gears when the answer to the Juice question was no.
But it’s a new year and a new opportunity. Here are this year’s words. They are more actionable and less squishy and I’m optimistic that I’ll be in a different frame of mind as I update this in 12 months.
Discipline: This is bigger in scope than Publish. I need to post more often (but only content that matters), strengthen relationships more deliberately (particularly on LinkedIn), share more tweets, and perhaps most important, prioritize more effectively. My To Do list in 2013 was huge. While I consistently got my “check marks,” I didn’t always focus on the most important things. I’ve already implemented a Brogan OMFG suggestion — my Daily To Do list only has five items on it so improve my focus.
Passion: In many ways, the professional and personal challenges I’ve faced this year have been deflating. Human speed bumps at work have made it far more difficult to “leap out of bed, ready to face the day’s challenges” than at any other time in my life. The key to success with this word is finding interesting projects that will engage me and make a difference in people’s lives (and being more patient during the Execution phase). It could mean being deliberate about experiencing different things (e.g., books, music) and incorporating them into my life. There’s no metrics attached to this one, beyond how I feel in the morning when I wake up.
Change: There’s an old story about a frog and scorpion trying to cross a raging river. The frog, who can’t see the shore over the waves, is reluctant to carry the scorpion out of fear he’ll be killed. The scorpion points out that if he kills the frog, he dies too. Halfway across the stream, the frog feels a sting and, as he starts to go under, asks the scorpion why. “Because it’s my nature,” says the scorpion.
My nature is to be the bulldog to the point where I sometimes seem to seek or embrace conflict within a corporate culture that doesn’t. I’m impatient with people who hide behind process or bring dozens of people into an initiative to avoid taking responsibility for the decision or for execution. I have to change (or perhaps) tweak my approach if I want to be happy.
Change in this context means patience — more deep breaths or waiting until the next day to hit Send on that e-mail. It means finding an environment that embraces the creative process (innovation) and celebrates aggressive execution. It likely requires a move away from being a “support partner” and a return to a leadership role. It may require a change in this “leopard’s spots.” Perhaps it’s doing something completely different. We’ll see.
Those are my three words. What are yours?