Last October, Chris Brogan generously bought our breakfast at a little downtown Mobile, Alabama cafe – which really wasn’t playing fair after he had already spent so much more of his time investing in our ideas… Andy and I got a lot of value that morning – so much that thanks doesn’t begin to cover it. (On second thought, maybe I can pay him back by exporting grits to New England?).
Beyond what happened that day, there is one concept that I think Chris originated that has really encouraged me a lot – it’s his idea about “three words.”
Last year I toyed with the “three words” concept a lot, and I just took some time to get my sea legs under me on this idea. My take is that the three words are like a short term mission statement for me, and as such and not wanting to be flippant about it, I literally took a year to think about this and when the clock rolled over to 2011, my three words for 2011 were already concretely etched in my mind and have been driving my work everyday of this year (and okay, for a wee bit before). I talk about them, and I frame my business and life around them… at least for this year… until a new season comes around.
Kings, Diplomacy, Advocacy
Kings. This is one of Chris’ 2010 words. And while I’m getting bored with him having all of the good ideas first, I have to say that this one really gelled with me, and I can’t escape having it on my list this year. Kings have kingdoms. Kings can find other kingdoms with which to partner, kings wear crowns and kings conduct diplomacy and advocacy. Kings meet with other kings and support them. Sometimes they even help create other kingdoms. I want us to act more kingly (or queenly as the case must be for me). I want to be a servant king without wasting time – mine or anyone elses. I want to be wise. I want to meet other kings and create kingdoms and train new kings. Kings have authority, confidence… good kings are trusted, valued, and are ultimately – servants of their kingdom. I want to be about all of that – and we are on that path with the infancy of new business models (new kingdoms) that will support local businesses and specific geographic areas in new ways during 2011.
Diplomacy. Competition is out; diplomacy is in. Webster’s says (among other things) that “in an informal or social sense, diplomacy is the employment of tact to gain strategic advantage or to find mutually acceptable solutions to a common challenge, one set of tools being the phrasing of statements in a non-confrontational, or polite manner.” Diplomacy is, at its core, about partnerships and trust. It’s about relationships, respect, and mutual benefit. Diplomacy is equal opportunity: with superiors, equals and up-and-comers. Diplomacy should stretch us and our ideas to better places and benefit lots of people beyond ourselves.
Advocacy. I want to stand up for those that need help. In some way of late, that is why my passion for local business has only grown – not weakened. As I’ve seen government efforts largely fail and small business owners grope for new ways to find success, I’ve sought to not just help – but become an advocate in various ways. My heart is to put myself aside and pour out my life in service to others – my family, my friends, those who can’t help themselves (the homeless, unemployed, orphaned) and on a work front: local businesses. Advocates go to bat for someone that needs help and stands in the gap to make a way for things to get better. Advocates fill a need and reinforce another’s position. I encourage and will pursue customer advocacy a lot this year to help businesses and my own projects provide remarkable customer experiences, to build customer loyalty, to grow customer communities and reach new kingdoms of customers. I want to serve how our kingdoms need us to serve – not continue to serve in the way that we always have – that seems like an advocate sort of thing to do.
Lastly, I can’t help but throw this out there…. After a year of simmering on the idea of three words, I also narrowed down a bigger theme that I instituting as my personal and business purpose statement. It’s not a word so much as a short phrase – but it’s about a concept that we all struggle with at one time or another. It’s about going the distance – not fading in the last inning. It’s about finding completeness and pursuing things to the end. It’s about doing my best until it’s done – and nothing short. It’s about never looking backwards and being defeated by past mistakes – and about looking forward to what I can do now – and in the future. My fourth word (well, phrase) of the year will last well beyond 2011. “Finish well.”
More “Three Words”
Following are some other blog posts out there following this same theme using the “three words” for guiding their year. These are some ideas that might guide you – and encouraged me to read. I hope you find them encouraging, too.
Chris Penn’s three words do not disappoint. He is always a genius and makes everyone think harder.
Beth Kanter’s three words post includes a nice chart and some cool references… She’s a smart thinker.
Michelle Wolverton challenged me with her choice of “fearlessness.” Plus, I hear she’s from the South, so she must be awesome.
Susan Murphy has three great ideas in her three words – but I like the concept of “intersections” the best – kinda fits well with some of my words as well… good stuff.
What three words will guide your business this year?
Photo credit: 24oranges