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Have you ever had a three-minute conversation with someone that you don’t see often that just stays with you? And for days, you are reminded of that conversation, because you realize that it’s because you are supposed to do something with that conversation?

The question is, do you? Do I?

I had that conversation a few weeks ago with Mark Jankowski, a CEO Coach, entrepreneur and all-around great person. He shared that he was working on a year-long project based on the book One Word ( One of the authors, Jimmy Page, is also in Baltimore and is one of the finest speakers I have had the privilege to hear speak.

He asked if I had heard of the book. In fact, I had and had chosen a word to live out in 2015. My word was margin. I had high hopes for the word and thought it would play out well in all areas of my life with a focus on time, intention, business. Wow…was it hard. Margin, as it related to time, was the most difficult for me.

So, when Mark mentioned “One Word,” I immediately knew where he was going. His word for 2016 was gratitude. He said it’s changed his entire perspective and made him more intentional. He introduced it to his executive group, and many of them also expressed that it’s changed them profoundly.

Never underestimate the power of words, especially, one word. Perhaps it’s the constraint wrapped around only one word that makes it so compelling.

A week or two after Mark and I had this brief exchange I heard him share this at our church service. This time I learned that his entire family had a word and each had painted or drawn their word so they would remember.

As you’re winding down the year and readying yourself for 2017, could one word serve as your north star?  Would it remind you of what is important, hold you accountable in all areas of your life and inspire your interactions with family, colleagues, and strangers? It’s bold, right?

Even though I never felt I created the margin I had hoped to, I appreciated the effort; the reminder to work toward something good and how everything worthwhile is a stretch.

It takes some thought to come up with one word noble enough to carry throughout 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days. I’m down to a short list and may even surprise myself when I finally choose my word. Maybe my word will choose me. I think I like that idea.

I’m grateful that I ran into Mark and he shared something beyond the weather, sports and “how’s business?”. He went right to the heart of sharing something meaningful in an uplifting way. You could feel the joy. And, as anyone who is a bit over the top, way too enthusiastic and loves a new activity I texted (yes, I know that’s lame, but I wanted a response) my family and let them know we will have a new Christmas brunch tradition this year.

Even through my iPhone I heard their laughter, saw their eye rolls and pictured their texts to one another. I also know they will show up for brunch with open minds, a sense of optimism and a twenty-something understanding of how even one word can make them better people.

I encourage you to consider choosing one word that will inspire you throughout 2017. Be bold; begin and explore.

To get started:

  • Meet and listen to Mark Jankowski share his story (Mark starts at 25:16 on this recording).
  • Check out the “One Word” website.
    • Download their worksheet, print it out, grab a coffee and spend some quiet time
  • Create a short list of words or go with the first one that comes to mind
  • Live your word out
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself but do give yourself a stretch