Bridging Leadership Lessons from the Workplace and Those Experiences Shaping Today's Youth and Tomorrow's Leaders
I wake up every morning before the sun comes up, feed the dogs, make some coffee, and then spend time on myself - emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. I spend time reading, writing, and reflecting as well as attempting to keep my mind sharp with Wordle and Sudoku.
I was working on a recent Wordle puzzle and found myself stuck on a word, which if you do this puzzle, you are aware that this can be common. I do follow a strategy of always starting with the same word. After that, depending upon which letters are correct, I do have some additional trigger words that I use to help me narrow down the options.
When you create a process that works, you then look for other ways to use this effective process. We do this at work, sports and in life. You hear the phrase, “Trust the Process”, which means if you create a process, and with preparation and proper execution, the results will follow. Which is true for the most part, but what happens when your process has a built-in bias?
Biases and perspectives are part of life. Whether it is the Mental Models you have formed over the years or the process you create to navigate Wordl, you need to recognize that how you see patterns, has an inherent bias that needs to be explored and understood.
As I worked through the morning Wordle, I ended up with the pattern shown in the image, - - i - e, immediately I see a long “i” sound because of the “e” on the end. I run through a few words such as crime, prize, and twine before settling on “slide” as my guess. It reveals an “L” which only adds more confusion. It can’t be “glide” because it doesn’t have a “D”. I was stuck. If you have played Wordle, you find yourself making up words in your head, sounding them out to see if by some chance it is an obscure word of which only the truest of Jeopardy champions would be aware.
So, you take a step back and gather your thoughts. You ask yourself what you are missing. If you recognize that you are stuck in a pattern such as the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon when you buy a yellow car and then somehow you suddenly notice yellow cars everywhere! You open your mind to a new perspective. What if it isn’t a long “i” sound? You change your pronunciation, your perspective, and suddenly “olive” jumps to mind, and the puzzle is solved.
If it is so easy to miss a word in a simple game, how many times are you missing the truth and reality in your relationships with people? How many times has your bias impacted a project at work? Negatively impact a play on the court? We are built upon our biases that we have experienced over a lifetime, but our strength comes when we can identify and overcome those biases that leads to our growth Beyond Today.
I spent many hours in reflection for my 2023 One Word (read Jon Gordon's book!) and while I was intrigued and moved by many words, the “AHA” moment never came. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t feel I ever truly got to that quiet place needed to really listen and hear what I needed.
One word that I kept coming back to was WIN. This is a theme I am using at work to help people focus on outcomes more than the activities. Yet we are still emphasizing the process needed to win and not just a scorecard. Establishing a winning culture that wins the day, the moment to propel you forward with momentum.
While the word WIN resonated strongly with work life, when I tried to apply it to my personal life, it always lost steam and I would find my mind wandering and identifying other words instead of reinforcing how WIN was aligned. But as I captured notes on these new candidates for my One Word, I noticed that the words seem to have a similar theme.
From WIN, I jumped to VALUE. Some of the concepts that would quickly come to my mind were:
The word VALUE seemed like a good word, but it was almost too easy and when I considered my need to Value TIME, it led me down a deeper path.
TIME to finish, to change, to accept challenges, to be healthy, to do different. I recognized that TIME must be valued and it can’t be wasted.
My next twist was when I realized it was TIME to take the NEXT step and to seek the NEXT opportunity. As I considered the simple word NEXT and how powerful it could be in life, I considered that maybe it was really that I needed to MOVE forward on stalled activities and that I would be more impactful if I MOVE to the next stage. The obvious healthy reference with MOVE is there in the physical sense but also into MOVING to a different mindset.
As so often happens when you are focusing your mind and opening your thoughts, the rabbit holes and pathways start coming faster. As I let myself wander further, searching for the One Word, the word TRANSITION presented itself as a leading candidate as I considered that in both my work and personal life, I am preparing to TRANSITION to new roles and the desire to VALUE the TIME to MOVE to what is NEXT was really about the processes associated with the TRANSITION as much as the result of the TRANSITION.
While it seemed to all fit and that the culmination of my inward and upward thinking led me to the word TRANSITION, I did not feel the connection I needed to feel. I was not moved, and I decided to let it ride for some time and would find a later date to continue my One Word journey.
Then one day, as I am in the shower prior to work, I am reviewing the One Word Questions and I look up and see the exhaust fan with the cover removed. The fan motor went out around 6 months ago and I immediately went to the local store and purchased a replacement. Due to some various challenges, I never got around to changing it out, much to the displeasure of my wife. I said to myself, “I need to FINISH that.”
There it was. The summation, the connection if you will, between all the words I had been considering. The theme was that I not only need to make progress in my life - both personally and professionally - I had to finish these things to move forward. Being busy with one foot only moves you in circles. To TRANSITION, you need to take actions that MOVE you forward to the NEXT step, taking TIME to create VALUE that helps everyone win but this can only occur when you FINISH what you started.
Life is more than effort. It is more than movement. Life is about creating value, which happens when you are able to FINISH your goals and move forward Beyond Today.
Other Blog Posts on One Word:
One Word can have an Impact in 2022
Listen to My One Word from 2017
Focus on One Word in 2021
One Word for the New Year
Tom Brown - a husband and a father who is simply trying to make a difference. Using my experience as a Manufacturing Executive to connect leadership from the boardroom to the hardwood to help teams grow and develop to make a difference in the lives of others.