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What’s Your Word for 2021? (#22)

The Confident Leader

Coronavirus. Defund. Mamba. Quarantine. Asymptomatic. All of these words were contenders for Merriam-Webster’s 2020 Word of the Year. “Pandemic” was the winner. While these words summarize what’s already happened, is there a word to help you envision and achieve results in the future?

I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine.
— Emily Dickinson

This Week’s Edition

WORDS MATTER: What you say is what you will get. What is the word that will lead to what you want in 2021?

Clarify Your Thinking

“Words matter.” We hear this a lot. But, why do they matter? In the realm of personal relationships, a kind word edifies and a harsh word tears down. But, do words matter in business, in the realm of leadership and achieving our goals?


I’ve long said, “words matter because they betray the heart.” Meaning, words are the audible manifestation of what you are thinking and feeling. The words you say telegraph your thinking. Thoughts lead to actions, actions lead to results (the essentials of Performance Intelligence at Work). Therefore, words… actions… results.


How does this all tie into the beginning of a new year? All too often, we go through the laborious exercise of crafting an incredible vision and smart strategies only to douse it all with words that torch the goal we actually want:

·      There’s no way that can happen.

·      I just don’t have what it takes.

·      Who am I to think I can do that?

·      Others are way ahead of me.


You have a choice. You can continue to say words that sow seeds of futility or you can say things that fortify your efforts to achieve your vision. The power of the word stops you dead in your tracks. It forces clarity in your thinking, reminding you of what you want.


As you create a goal for the year, consider including a word that reminds you of the thinking needed to help you produce the actions and results that you want. Think it. Do it. Achieve it.

post pandemic vision

Thoughts Lead to Actions

For the past twelve years, I’ve had a word for the year. At the beginning of each year, it operates as a guide to help me take on the months that follow. Often the word has been an unwitting harbinger of what is to come.


For example, the first year my word was GO. It became a mantra that moved me beyond analysis paralysis to launch my executive coaching career. Upon reflection, it was more than a mere “cute” exercise. It was a powerful force that focused my leadership and emboldened what I wanted to achieve. The word GO helped me plant seeds that continue to develop even to this day.


Energy follows focus and what you focus on tends to manifest.


The way I discover my word is a result of an end-of-the-year process that includes: the Yellow Notecard exercise and vision-casting. The process never fails to produce the theme for the year in a single word.  


What if… you chose a word that set the tone for the coming year?


Discover your word(s) for the year:

1.   Reflect on the previous year

2.   Set your vision for the coming year

3.   Notice the emerging themes from one year to the next

4.   Jot down your thoughts


I’ve found that what comes to me initially ends up being the word. The more I try to manufacture it or wish it to be a certain word, the less it takes hold. I find myself returning to what originally popped into my head.


My word for this year is: BUILD (Begin Undertaking Intentional Long-term Development)


Harness your thinking and come up with your word. It may be just the thing that moves you from hope to reality in all that you want to accomplish this year.

What’s Your Opinion?

Share with me your word for the year.

Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

robin pou, chief advisor and strategist

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

If this was helpful, feel free to share it with another leader who needs to defeat doubt and complete their confidence.

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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.

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