2016: The Year of Meaning

By 5 Jan ’16Blog

Well, we’re off to a new year. Like race horses out of the gate, yesterday, many of us fell out of bed determined to make 2016 a better year as we started our first work week of 2016. How has it been going?

I laughed when I saw someone’s Instagram feed on January 1st that said:

“So far in 2016 I have managed to avoid overeating, lying, laundry, speeding, yelling at my kids and chain letters!!! Yea, Me!!! Here’s to keeping it up for the other 364.7 days!!! #hello2016

Funny thing – this was posted only 35 minutes into the new year.

The reality is, most of our new years resolutions fail because we try to carry them out in isolation. So in this short post, I’d like to paint a better picture for you of success in 2016—a success that can only come from involvement with one another. The result — a richer and more meaningful experience.

If you follow my blogs, you’ll notice that for the last five months, there’s been a significant gap in updates on my website. Simple reason – five months ago we took a trip east to check on my mother who had advanced cancer. During that trip we determined that she could no longer live on her own. At that point, I sent my family home and I stayed to help take care of her. Four months later, she passed away. Needless to say, these past few months have altered my perspective on life, for sure.

Now that you know my context, you’ll understand more of why I’m sharing this idea of making 2016 a year of meaning.

My mother was a very determined and accomplished woman. She was an expert in the field of public health and gave over 30 years of her life to the state of Tennessee. Additionally, she gave over 10 years of her life as a college professor teaching and mentoring nursing students on this subject. She’d done a lot. She was tough and a self-starter. Yet, in her sickness, I saw a new side of her. She no longer had the luxury of being independent—she had to learn dependence. The lessons I learned in caring for her were endless.

Particularly though, I saw how meaningful life can be when we depend on one another. Yes, when we lock arms and go in together down the path, a certain richness gets added to our experience. Let’s be honest — our culture doesn’t value this, generally speaking. We say we value community and teamwork, but it’s individual performance that gets rewarded. What we reward, therefore, is what really is valued. To put it another way, so many people want more meaningful relationships or work, but don’t want to do the hard work of involvement in each other’s lives.

Alexander Levy, author of The Orphaned Adult, put it this way:

“Or might it be, I sometimes wonder, that the growing value our society puts on the rights and privileges of individuals has progressed to such an extent that we have become preoccupied with ourselves, our own rights, and our own comforts at the expense of any compassionate involvement with one another?”

I worked with a leader once that always said, “Together we’re a genius!” I’d add, that together, we not only survive, but we thrive. Why do we thrive? It’s because of the richness that involvement with one another can bring. Don’t you want to thrive this year? Don’t you want to be a genius? I do. So here’s my challenge.

Don’t make any new year’s agreements with yourself because agreements made in isolation rarely pan out. Rather, make an agreement with someone else. If you are a leader of a team — make some team agreements and check in regularly along the way. Make 2016 the year of compassionate involvement with one another. I guarantee, the bi-product will be a life and work of greater meaning. After all, our legacy is realized in the lives of the people we leave behind, so invest in those around you.

I’m happy to be back in California and ready to get back to work. I wish you, your families and your companies the best possible new year to date.

Here’s to making 2016 The Year of Meaning.