EXPLORE – #oneword for 2018

January 1 is a “let’s get to it” day. Last week, I set my reading goal for the year. I created my January bullet journal pages. I also did laundry, but don’t worry, that’s not just a new year’s thing.

Now it’s time for my #oneword which has become a yearly tradition (see my last three #oneword posts below). I choose #oneword because it provides me with a reflection framework. As I’ve mentioned in this space, I’m a terrible procrastinator and setting myself the challenge of choosing #oneword helps me focus.

I also love the brevity of #oneword. Less is more.

This year feels like a gateway year.  My career as a school board employee is coming to an end sometime in the next few years, and I’m thinking about what is next. I want to investigate what it possible. I want to let ideas macerate and mingle.

I’ve always wanted to work on my doctorate – is now the time? What do I want my mark to be on this world? How can I best use my strengths and interests in this part of my life?

This quote from Steve Jobs just appeared in my Twitter timeline and it feels right to use it.

“And most important have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become.”

That’s what I want to explore this year.

Here’s a big shout out to Julie Balen, Ontario educator, who is leading #onewordONT this year through her Google+ Community OneWordOnt Blogs.  Join and share your #oneword.

Previous #oneword posts:

GRACE – #oneword for 2017

ESSENTIAL – #oneword for 2016

One Word for 2015

GRACE – #Oneword for 2017

I’m ready to start the new year.

In 2016, I chose essential as my one word. It proved to be the perfect choice as I reflected throughout the year about how to pare down what I spend my time on to that which I consider most important. I also successfully experimented with various ways to use less time on those things that I have to get done, but don’t consider particularly enjoyable. The idea of Essentialism is now embedded in my thinking and my actions.

Photo Credit: Deida 1 Flickr via Compfight cc

The word grace encompasses thinking that I’ve been doing for the past few months. Ideas of forgiveness, love, gratitude and growth have all been present for me. I finally decided on it after finishing Wab Kinew‘s The Reason You Walk, a heartfelt meditation on reconciliation, love and forgiveness. “To be hurt, yet forgive. To do wrong, but forgive yourself. To depart from this world feeling only love. This is the reason you walk.” (p.268)

Then, as often happens, I began to see references to grace everywhere. Arthur C. Brooks wrote recently how powerful it might be to forgive another person this very day and how that small act can make the world better. Dan Rockwell offered leadership advice on How to Respond with Grace and Resolve When Teammates Disengage. A walk in the Royal Botanical Gardens brought out the chickadees!

This year, I want to consider deeply how to find the grace to forgive and love throughout all areas of my life, not just when it’s easy.  It’s scary because I’m sure I won’t be 100% successful. That means grace is my best word for 2017.


The Art of Choosing No

“Find a way to say yes.” Jim Wibberley, a seasoned leader who went on to become a Director of Education, offered that advice to newbie vice principal me in the context of saying yes to staff. I understand and agree with the intent. No one wants to hear a leader say no all the time. There may be times when a “no” is needed, but “no” can be soul crushing for the person putting forward an idea or asking to do something.IMG_2861

Further insight came a bit later in my career. While I can’t remember where I heard it, the phrase “Yes, and…” has stayed with me. Instead of saying, “Yes, but…” say “Yes, and…”   See the difference? It’s a subtle shift that removes the negative and extends possibilities.

Since these experiences, I’ve read Essentialism by Greg McKeown, which I’ve referenced a few times in previous posts. McKeown has moved my thinking about yes versus no. While I need find a way to say yes if possible when colleagues and team members make suggestions, I also need to be able to choose no to guard my time and focus on what is my true purpose and my essential intent. (He has some great suggestions for how to actually do this once you decide you want to.)

I’ve had some success lately. When someone asked me to take on something else in my job, I said, “Well, I would love to, but I just don’t see how I could do justice to it with all that I am working on. Do you have some suggestions for which commitments I could let go?” I also use my calendar a lot of more effectively to help me. If asked to attend a meeting or an event, I don’t say yes and I don’t say no. I let the person know that I will check my calendar and get back to them. And if I have something else on, I say no, regretfully. It’s empowering, and it’s clear.

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann via Compfight cc

I’ve got more work to do with choosing no, but I’m getting there.