What One Word Would You be Willing to Tattoo?
Since I was a teenager, I thought about getting a tattoo. My father, a physician, would not so subtly leave articles around the house about people having terrible allergic reactions to tattoos and with a raised eyebrow and commanding voice suggested that could be me.
Over the years, I’ve thought about my potential tattoo and even spent some time on Google checking out designs. The problem was, everything I that caught my eye was someone else’s, and none felt like a perfect reflection of something that I was willing to wear for a lifetime.
Recently, my interest in tattoos has come to the surface again. (Sorry, Dad). I began to wonder if there was an image, word or phrase that I wouldn’t grow tired of in a few months or even a few years.
What One Word is Your Tattoo Word?
It’s powerful to have a word or phrase to set your intention for the year ahead… or an event or any moment in your life. In the past month, I’ve read some impactful pieces from Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter on her three words for the year and Jon Mertz of Thin Difference on his words of intention and action.
Do you have a word for the year ahead?
What if there was a single word for your life and leadership that could transcend the next 12 months and guide you on your path?
Moreover, how would it help you or change you in powerfully positive ways?
Finding Your Forever Word – Your “Tattoo Word” for Your Life and Leadership
The concept of forever feels impossible in a world where everything is temporary. Our average human attention span is somewhere around 8 seconds. The average marriage length in the USA is somewhere between 8 – 12 years. The lifespan of your next tweet? It’s around 18 minutes. A tattoo? Till death do you part (or laser).
Don’t worry. I’m not going to come to your house and drive you to go get your tattoo. But what if…
What do you love?
Who do you love?
What part of me do you need to honor?
What do you need to call forth in my life and leadership?
What part of you do you want to share with the world?
Who are you?
What drives you?
What do you need to remember and you too easily forget?
If you sit with these questions, ideas will start to swirl and take form. I promise.
You may be thinking, “I get a word for the year, but could there really be one for the next 50? Come on.”
I’ve been coaching long enough to know that what people need today, and who they are, evolves over time and well, ink certainly doesn’t. The concept of a forever word or tattoo worthy word is a big one.
In 2014, my word was play. I wanted to let go of stress and have more playful experiences. Am I glad I don’t have the word “play” tattooed on my butt or anywhere else? You bet.
In the last few months I accepted that my ‘forever’ word was within me and not on Google or in the plethora of cool tattoos on Pinterest like a needle in an enormous haystack. Instead of looking endlessly at designs, I closed my laptop and sat with the questions to discover the one word I needed with me 24/7 365 and beyond.
It hit me. I had my answer.
It’s what I have needed to do my whole life (even when I’ve resisted) and will continue to do for the rest of my days.
To me “embrace” simultaneously accepts where I am today and gives faith and courage for the journey ahead. It lets me mindfully love what’s present while still pushing me to change and grow. Moreover, it is the perfect reminder to embrace others for who they are and where they are in this moment too instead of getting annoyed or frustrated that they’re not meeting my subjective bar.
Truthfully, embracing is not something I’ve always done well but know, that to live a life of meaning, and not only of longing or regret, but it’s also what I most need to do.
Yup, my word, my forever word, my tattoo word: Embrace.
What one word do you believe in so strongly you’d be willing to get a tattoo?
Let’s freeze for a moment – I have not gotten inked. Still, I’ve started carrying that word with me everywhere I go – in my wallet on a piece of paper. Yeah, I totally get that’s not permanent, but it’s a start.
You don’t need to jump onto the chair and get inked tomorrow either but knowing that word that you need to and want to carry with you for all of your days is powerful.
So, what's your tattoo word?
I Have A Brand And It Haunts Me
I was talking to my pal “Jonas” who recently decided to freelance (vs building a multi-consultant business) when he left a bigger firm to do his own thing.
Jonas is a global talent guy who works across the planet for some of the world’s most well known companies. He decided his best play—the one that would allow him to focus on what he loves most and live the life he’s planned—is to freelance for other firms.
His plan got off to a bit of a rocky start because—get this—none of the firms he approached believed he’d actually want to “just” freelance. He’d earned his rep by steadily building deep, brand name client relationships, practices and business, not by going off by himself as a solo.
Or as he put it “I have a brand and it haunts me.”
We both had a good belly laugh because he was already rolling in new projects, thrilled with his choice to freelance.
And yet, isn’t that the truth?
Good, bad, indifferent—our brands DO haunt us.
They whisper messages to those in our circle “trust him, he’s the bomb”, “hire her for anything creative as long as your deadline isn’t critical”, “steer clear—he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver”.
And thanks to social media, those messages—good and bad—can accelerate faster than you can imagine. One client, one reader, one buyer can be the pivot point that takes your consulting business to new territory.
So how do you deal with it?
Yep—you go for more of what comes naturally. In Jonas’ case, he stuck with what he’s known for—his work, his relationships, his track record for integrity—and won over any lingering skepticism about his move.
We weather the bumps in the road by staying true to who we are at our core.
So when a potential client says “Sorry, you’re just too expensive for me”, you don’t run out and change your prices. Instead, you listen carefully and realize they aren’t the right fit for your particular brand of expertise and service.
When a social media troll chooses you to lash out at, you ignore them and stay with your true audience—your sweet-spot clients and buyers.
And when your most challenging client tells you it’s time to change your business model to serve them better, you listen closely (there may be some learning here) and—if it doesn’t suit your strengths—you kiss them good-bye.
If your brand isn’t haunting you, is it really much of a brand?
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