Three Words For 2013

I wasn't going to write this post. Mostly, I must admit, because my three words for 2012 kinda fell by the wayside. But today was one of those days where everything just came together, and I saw 2013 a little more clearly than I had previously. After that, this post wrote itself.

It's the Thursday after Christmas, and I've just flown a regional jet from Boston to Philadephia in a Nor'easter to drop my son off with his mother. The flight was so bad--so, so bad--that I am now taking Amtrak back to Boston instead of getting on another crappyjet home. I've had some time to reflect on 2012, and look ahead to 2013. So, from an Acela somewhere in Connecticut, here are my three words for 2013, and what they mean: Consolidate, Coil and You.

Consolidate

This one is easy--and for a while, was (fittingly) going to be my one word for 2013. Last year, I tried a lot of things, and conducted a lot of experiments. Some of them worked, some of them didn't. It would be judgmental to say that I tried too many different things, but it would also miss the point if I didn't learn a few lessons from what worked and what didn't, and try to regroup a bit.

I invested everything I had last year--time, resources and wealth--into a very diverse portfolio of activites, investments and initiatives, both personal and professional. This year, I plan to take what I learned into account and spend more time on what worked. For me, that was client work, sharpening the saw of my research chops, and leveraging my personal and business successes into related work. In other words, 2012 was a year of stretching, but 2013 will be a year of doing fewer things, better.

Coil

I had a Border Collie named Maxine once. She lived to be 18(!) and was one of the smartest creatures I've ever met in my life, humans included. She was a rescue dog, and she lived with me in New York City for a number of years. Often, when I would walk her outside, people would stop me and make a point out of telling me how cruel it was that I kept a Border Collie cooped up in a city apartment. What I wanted to reply was that it was a whole lot kinder than letting her be euthanized, Judgy McJudgerpants, but...well, actually, that is exactly what I would often reply. Anyway.

When Maxine was 13, I took her to a sheep herding trial in a field in New Jersey, where she met sheep for the very first time. What I saw astounded me: even as a very mature (and slowing) dog, she instinctively controlled her first flock of sheep flawlessly. And she barely broke a sweat doing it. 

What Maxine had was the "stare." She would lie down on the ground--as low as she could possibly get--and stare at the sheep. If you only saw her from the neck down, you would think she was half-asleep. She appeared to be relaxed, legs folded under her. Her eyes, however, revealed the truth. She wasn't relaxed, she was coiled. The alertness in her eyes told you--and those sheep--that while she might seem to be consolidating (see Word #1), she was actually coiled to move. Those eyes--and how she stared at those sheep--spoke volumes about her ability to strike.

To me, coiling is the yin to the yang of consolidation. Being more ready to strike at opportunity, more responsive to to change, and more proactive to create that change is the kinetic energy inherent in any move to regroup or consolidate. Yes, I'm going to do fewer things better, but no, I'm not napping. I'm going to spend my energy more wisely, but spend it I will--and more than ever.

You

Finally, I have an admission to make about the past year. I stopped retweeting you. I didn't comment on your posts. I didn't promote your articles. Heck, I didn't even read most of them. I didn't help you as much as you helped me. 

People who know me know that my heart is in the right place, but both my professional and my personal life are extremely busy, travel-filled and complicated. I flew over 50 segments on JetBlue alone last year, and most of that for personal reasons. That doesn't even count the full slate of travel I had for Edison clients, speaking engagements and other business travel. I didn't leave enough time for you.

In 2013, I will. I promise. You've done so much for me. Thank you.