Back in 2006, I was part of a small team of people that participated in an all-day “team-building exercise” at our then Manager’s house.
Like any good team-building exercise, we had a pre-meeting homework assignment. She asked us to come prepared to share our “one-word equity”—the ONE word that best described us, and why.
I’ll never forget obsessing about my one word before I finally landed quite happily on the word STEADY.
I nervously tested it on Joy—who knows me far better than anyone else. She overwhelmingly affirmed that I had made the right choice.
Even when I shared it with the team at our meeting that day, the whole room lit up with smiles and affirming head nods. There was no doubt that I had nailed it. And if you know me that well, you’re probably smiling and nodding right now, too.
Steady is SO ME.
And I’ve always been steady. When I was a kid, my mom would get frustrated (with good reason) because whether we were early or late, I would always put my shoes on at the same speed. In high school soccer, the coach kept me on defense because I had a fantastic foot, but I was a terrible sprinter. I just don’t have a category for high velocity. Some even jokingly called me One-Speed Scotty.
You’re already starting to see that being so steady definitely has its downsides.
At face value, steadiness is a sought-after trait by those with high highs and low lows. They wish they were more like me. I’m a picture of endurance and stability in a relationship, a long project or a difficult trial.
But like any word that so deeply defines a person, steadiness can have serious drawbacks.
I have a lot of dreams that I defer for the sake of being steady. I have a lot of big ideas I bury in my quest to be steady. Most of the time, I walk around feeling like I could be doing a lot more with the ideas in my head, and the skills in my hands. And I’m generally OK with that.
I don’t have a raging fire in my belly. I have a pilot light that will never go out, and I keep the kindling just out of reach.
Yesterday while I was in bed fighting a cold, I watched a documentary about a team of remarkable skateboarders called the Bones Brigade, who revolutionized and reinvented the sport back in the 80s. I was an avid skateboarder during that time, and idolized these guys, most of whom were only tweens at the time.
The documentary told the story of their epic journey to iconic skateboarding superstardom. By being together, they pushed each other to do tricks that had never been done before, or ever thought possible. As soon as one would do the impossible trick, the rest of the team would learn it, and do it.
I can only describe their rise as being defined by a persistent inner hunger to reinvent what was possible. One of the skaters, an amazing freestyler named Rodney Mullen, said in an interview,
“What makes us all do what we do at a high level is an inspiration that comes from so deep. It’s like a controlled desperation. And if you can’t tap into that, then it extinguishes. And you can’t find it up here [in your head]. It’s way down here [in your heart].”
Although it fascinates me, I have a very difficult time mustering up the desperation to do something.
Being steady and being desperate don’t really go together. Steadiness is like a rock. It’s enduring, but passive. It isn’t inventive. It isn’t desperate, or driven. It isn’t HUNGRY.
So for 2013, I want to challenge my heart to carve out a category for HUNGRY. Hungry to follow up on ideas I’ve been ignoring. Hungry to finish projects that have gone untouched for far too long. Hungry to go after opportunities without dwelling on everything that could go wrong. Hungry to grow in my faith. Hungry to take a calculated risk here and there, and see what happens.
It may take me a few weeks, but I’ll steadily get there.
How about you? Have you chosen a word for the year? What is it, and how do you hope to live differently in 2013?