“All the true vows are secret vows the ones we speak out loud are the ones we break.” David Whyte

“Take a moment and check in with yourself,” offered the HR executive leading this segment of the meeting. “I want you to think of a word that means the most to you, one that you would like to serve as a sign post for 2020.” A few participants shifted in their seats uncomfortably, a few others looked down at their laptops, as if to find an answer there. “Feel free to share with the group so that we can support you.”

This well meaning exercise is being offered in organizations world wide as a method to start the year in a more intentional way. “Systems,” said Susan, and went on further to explain. “My word for 2020 is systems because they need upgrading, and I’m going to make sure this happens.” The circle nodded in approval. As the group continued words surfaced such as persistence, determination, authenticity, gratitude, boundaries, assertiveness, each with socially and perhaps organizationally and culturally approved of words and values.

If you participated in this exercise in 2019, did your ‘word’ stick? Was it something that grounded you and brought you back to your higher intentions for yourself and perhaps your team? When did you start planning for this year’s ‘word?” Was it, perhaps simply in anticipation, vowing to never be caught off guard again?

I want to know the word the you didn’t utter, the one that you perhaps crossed off the list, or the one you told yourself you wouldn’t dare say in public. Even better, I’d like to suggest that no one in your business or personal life know it, including me.

If this exercise is to be a meaningful it will be the result of a process of radical self inquiry. What matters most to you? Why? What will it give you that you don’t feel in possession of now? When you reflect on your word, what emotions does it evoke? What would it look/feel like to have 10% more _________ in your life? What small step actions can you take in service of your word everyday? The capacity to receive is cultivated when we can imagine and feel what it is like to receive and be what it is that matters to us, while creating a ‘felt sense’ of it.

From a coaching perspective, people often begin their coaching engagement with one intention in mind, and in the discovery process, learn that there is something much more important, vital to them. This is when the real progress begins, which is why it is important to let your word and idea of what you want to create in 2020 evolve, deepen, and begin to create a story for you that you want to live into.

Hey, it’s only a word..but it is your word, it is sacred in my opinion and central to your ability to create the reality you want to create in 2020. And yes, it’s perfectly ok to have a word for the meeting, and a sacred vow or word for you and you alone to live into and actualize in 2020.

“…Remember in this place no one can hear you and out of the silence you can make a promise it will kill you to break, that way you’ll find what is real and what is not…”