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It seems appropriate that leading up to the annual celebration of love that occurs on Valentine’s day, I would make this declaration.
My word for the year is LOVE.
The word of the year is a new practice in my life. I learned about it in 2019, as I was getting to know my new Slalom colleagues. During the holidays, a brilliant consultant I was thrilled to be getting to know over a coffee date at a nearby Slalom DC office regular hang out spot introduced me to it.
“What’s your word for 2020?”, she had asked.
I had to think about it.
I brought this practice with me as I worked on goal setting with my team. It was a beautiful way for us to anchor in the craze that was Q2 ’20 and also to center and boost our quarterly progress discussions.
Apparently, I integrated the practice in other aspects of my life too. In December 2020, as we were planning to bring back The Gloss Over Podcast, my co-host, ride or die and far away BFF Meaghan Whalen asked me: “What’s your word for 2021?”.
I didn’t have to think about it. LOVE.
Living in Love
In the fall of 2020, while convalescing from a pretty major surgery and frankly, contemplating the meaning of my life (as one does in their mid-forties), I had doubled down on my coaching sessions and I had committed to actually doing “the work”. One Friday, head coach Lyndsay had encouraged me to spend the whole following week observing and experiencing my life through the lens of love: “I just want you to live this next week luxuriating in love.”
Oh, this work, I love!
Beyond bringing an awareness to what I love about my life, she challenged me to go deeper. My homework was to get familiar with why I was marking something in my life with the feeling of love.
Later that week, I found myself in my living room feasting on the morning light’s beams on my Monstera, a spring 2020 acquisition I had been caring for first outside and now inside at my humble Reston, Virginia home.
I love this plant, I observed.
In the moments that followed, I went on the ride to find out why.
I love her shade of green.
I love how the sun hits its thick leaves making them practically transparent.
I love how easy she is to take care of. And how fast she grows.
And she makes me feel trendy too!
I love that I know why her leaves split: to make sure her really large leaves don’t block sunlight from its roots and other leaves.
I love watching a new leaf unroll. Slowly. Especially when I confirm the new leaf got enough light to actually split.
And I got to the bottom of it: because I see myself in this beautiful process.
The week’s experience changed my outlook on life in 2020. I didn’t want to experience anything else than what brought me love any longer. Because it’s when I am enrobed in love, starting with my own, that I feel my best and I can therefore bring my best. And be my best.
Experiment with love. I dare you.
Do What You Love
I had been asked for almost all of my career to develop skills I didn’t naturally have. “Feedback” would usually come to me in the form of vague generalities: be more analytical, be more serious, be more specific, for example. “The work” lead me to a pretty important finding: it is standing in what I love that gives me the confidence I need to accomplish all of my goals. So I started to wonder what could happen if I focused almost exclusively on bringing what I love to my career, life, conversations and choices. I found this approach brought me a tremendous amount of clarity.
I love to pitch. Because I want to make people feel something.
I love obsessing about customers. Because I believe they are the great equalizer.
I love designing experiences for life. Because I believe they are the elixir of life.
I love coming up with creative solutions to gnarly problems. Because I believe a multi-disciplinary approach is better than a single threaded outlook. And I love a broad and highly integrated approach to problem-solving. Because solutions in a vacuum are just another incarnation of the decisions of our past and the sins of our predecessors.
I love discipline, process and efficiency. Because there is no time to waste. Especially in 2021, when sustainability is so important in our world and how we run our companies, our communities, our households and ourselves.
I love being labeled emotional. Because it helps me connect with everyone.
I love words. Because using them impactfully is key to meaningful conversations that can spark the change we seek.
I love my energy. Because it’s my superpower.
Do what you love. I dare you.
So Much Hate
It was also one of the most difficult times in 2020. While I have publicly expressed how much I despised Q2 ’20, the truth is that I was still fighting to keep myself together in Q4. The state of affairs in America, especially from my suburban Washington flat were, simply put, disgusting me. In my healing, I needed to feel the hate and negativity less. I was doing everything I could to protect myself from the morose mood I knew was rampant in the streets, present on my social media feeds, even showing up in some of both my North American and trans-Atlantic conversations. Some even in my home. I struggled with not being able to explain any of it, not being able to find my voice for any of it. I wanted to fight no battles.
So I took the experiment further: I chose to honor my need for detachment, with love. I decided that if I didn’t have anything in me to comprehend, I would simply throw more love at it.
And while I intellectually understand that love simply isn’t enough to solve real problems because, well, it’s all complicated really, what I discovered was that love is a damn good place to start.
I found that in love, we are more alike than different. Love as another place to brings us together.
Invite love. I dare you.
I am a Romantic
I can’t help it. In my complexity, I sometimes struggle with finding the right dose of reality to offset my idealism. I dream. Out loud. In these pages, and in my work, in my discussions, and with my words. It’s how I am programmed. And while I realize not always pragmatic, I have found that it is from this picturesque place of intimacy that I inspire. It’s where I truly feel love and loved. And where I am free to give it.
Choose love. I dare you.
In the end, it is really a simple reason…