One Word

As I was driving the other morning, I was listening to a political interview on the radio and there was an intriguing question posed by the host to the former Secretary of State, Madeline Albright: If you could identify the purpose of the Clinton administration in one word, what would it be? She thought for a brief moment and then replied “Integration.” She went on to say how there was a lot of dialogue in the administration about a word that they could “brand” themselves with (“Interdependence” was ruled out), a word they could all use to find purpose and direction in their work.

I am intrigued by the idea of a one-word passion… a one-word goal… a one-word mantra. My work with non-profit staff and volunteer leaders often incorporates the stated mission of the organization and how it is held in the culture of the organization and how it is operationalized in the programs of the organization. A mission statement is typically more than one word and is open to a lot of dialogue and interpretation. A mission statement is essential, don’t get me wrong, and I am curious about the one word that captures who you are, and what you are about.

What would it be like to simply stand for “equality?” What would it be like to stand for “love” or “accuracy” or “community” or “efficiency” or “healing?” How would our world be different if people and organizations stood for core concepts—deeply held values—that didn’t get lost in the flourishing language of mission statements and the usual disintegration that happens as a result of complex interpretations?

Here’s the challenge: What is the one word to which you are so deeply convicted that you will focus your life’s work in support of it…it defines you? When I take on my own challenge, I have a few words on my list… I stand for integrity. I stand for family. I stand for growth. I stand for adventure… I’ll work to get it to one!

Enjoy the day!


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Gary M. Groth, MS, PCC, CPCC

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