The sun glistened down through the conference room windows. To my right sat a local banker, to my left a college admissions director. I was literally surrounded by the cream of the crop of local business women, movers and shakers in the community, including an architect, non-profit directors, higher education professionals, marketing and public relations executives, a variety of business owners and CEOs, an accountant and a dentist. We were all serving on the executive board of a local women’s business group. Our president began the monthly board meeting—the first of the new year—with an icebreaker.
Share your word or theme for the new year.
Instead of creating resolutions (that we’ll probably forget by March) where we vow to reverse some of our most undesirable habits, modern women are now encouraged to select a simple theme or word of the year to inspire and motivate. The theory behind it is that this one carefully chosen word delivers positive juju all year long and pushes us toward success. Words like intentional, brave, focus and believe. Get the idea?
I must admit I struggled with the one word thing. I’ve never been known to be brief with words (those of you who know me well are nodding right now) and limiting it to just one, well, you can imagine how it got under my skin. The perfectionist in me stressed over finding the single perfect word to sum up my lofty goals for the new year. So after writing down a list of a million or so possible words in my journal, I decided I was simply not a one word answer kind of gal.
I digress. Back to the boardroom. As the person seated to the left of the president, I was, of course, the first one to share. No pressure, right? I explained that I’d been trying to take on too much lately between my business and family commitments, volunteer activities, and my part-time job, so my theme for the year was to be more intentional with my time and to (drumroll, please) “do less better.” Three words. I told you I couldn’t do it in one.
As we continued around the table, these intelligent, enlightened women shared their own themes. Many identified prioritizing “me time” and self-care. Others touched on professional development and personal growth. But one woman’s theme really spoke to me. Actually, it sang to me, loudly, in a Kelly Clarkson girl power anthem kind of way.
“Assume good intentions,” she said boldly.
Again, three words. It came from one of the younger members of this group, a millennial higher ed professional who explained that in the upcoming year she’d give the benefit of the doubt to the people she encountered. She would default to the positive and assume their intentions were pure. She wouldn’t question their motives. Simply put, she would assume the best in others.
Can you imagine the world if everybody would simply assume good intentions? You wouldn’t have to waste time on negativity. You wouldn’t feel the need to go on the defensive without cause. Imagine the shift in perspective if you could share an idea and not have to feel ready to immediately defend it—to have others take it for face value and respect it for what it is. Holy cow! Just think of the positive interactions and healthy discussions (and dare I say awesome outcomes?) that could ensue if everybody just assumes good intentions.
So today, my friends, I ask you to assume good intentions in others and in me. I write this blog for you with the best of intentions in providing food for thought, inspirational tidbits, and hopefully a few laughs as you live your one-of-a-kind life.
Wishing you a positive and productive new year!