As we start a new year I find myself immersed in a myriad of resolutions, New Year quizzes, and sharing of strategic and self-improvement goals for the budding year. One of these in particular had an interesting effect on me. The challenge posed by Jennifer McClure at Unbridled Talent was to find your focus for the year and summarize in one word what your main focus was going to be in 2014. I must admit that my initial reaction was skeptical, and that the first one word construction that came out of my mouth was “Cheesy!” But a couple of days after, the challenge was still lingering in my mind.
OK, I thought, let’s look at what responses there are so far. I was impressed with the far reaching and inspirational pronouncements that had been logged so far. “Significance”, “Strategic”, “Inspirational”, “Peaceful”, all leading the way for the triumphant entrance of “Transcend”. My mind started rushing in a tsunami-like effort of one-upmanship; in all honesty I caught myself trying to come up with a much more intellectual proclamation that would set me apart from all other atop a pedestal of strategic intent and unbridled leadership force. Thankfully logic prevailed (or my son invited me to play catch) and I abandoned the effort once again.
3:30AM two days later. It was perfectly clear to me.
In 2014 the word I will use as my guide will be WITH.
WITH my family while delivering on a successful career. It takes significant amounts of time to deliver on the commitments of the groups, businesses, causes we lead, but we must make time for our key priority in life. At the end of the day, the greatest legacy will be furnish to the world is a generation of well cared for, bold, entrepreneurial leaders that will steer the world in the right direction. And our family needs us WITH them to flourish. Nigel Marsh provides a jewel on work life balance in his TED talk on the matter.
WITH my teams. Not passing by, not multitasking, not thinking of what’s on my plate as we chat and meet. With them, in full, paying attention, striving to understand their passions, fears, concerns and questions. With them, not with my to do list, not with my smartphone, not with my worries from the outside world. With them, to help them, empower them, help them build a phenomenal story to be a part of. With them to be a servant leader. Robert K. Greenleaf is THE starting point to dive into Servant Leadership if you have not done so.
WITH those around me to win WITH, not OVER them. We fall into the pretense that winning has to come from someone losing every time, and as we do this we lose focus on opportunities to build a more level, cooperative, and sustainable civilization. If we look at winning WITH, we will focus less on what we can take for ourselves, and more on what legacy we can leave for future generations. Daniel Quinn provides a phenomenal dissertation on Takers and Leavers in his book Ishmael.
WITH the community I am part of. In the vortex of activity that is churned in our homes and businesses, we can get encapsulated and withdrawn from the environment we live in. I will look for opportunities to explore and contribute beyond work and home. I will seek to be a part of the community I live in and to contribute to it and its legacy.
Try it, the process of coming up with a single word that will drive a year in your life begets wonderful reflection. Thanks, Jennifer.