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One Word

Believe it, Speak it, and Live it in 2022 

There is such power in our words. Our tongues have the ability to build up and tear down. What we believe, what we speak, we can do. So as we head into 2022, what is that ONE WORD that aligns with your dreams, your vision, that will bring purpose to your new year. I have done this for the past several years and it has been a game changer for the direction I have for my life and the development of my secret sauce. It is also something that I have used in my locker rooms and classrooms to help propel young people towards their own goals and dreams. This is effective. It is powerful. And it all starts with just ONE WORD.

An example of just how foretelling one word can be, happened to me in 2021. My word for last year was ADVENTURE. I had no idea just how true that would be for the entire year. The whole Covid experience got me thinking at the end of 2020. Was I really living? Or was I just surviving? Was I sleepwalking through life, going about my daily routine, making a living to make ends meet, sleep, repeat? Had I become so blind to “being alive” by the repetition of complacency that my dreams were just an escape but not really in the realm of me thinking them to be possible? All these questions made me realize that I was living but not really alive and I wanted to not just live, but live big. I wanted to live out the adventure of a lifetime and so I was ready to see what really living in 2021 could be like. 

ADVENTURE

In 2021, my wife and I decided to LIVE. We had dreamed of living in the mountains of Colorado once we retired but where is the adventure in that. Why wait, right. We had basically lived in Oklahoma for most of our 53 years, the thought of moving to a different state, away from all we had known, was outside our comfort zone but it made us feel ALIVE. A feeling we had dreamed about but not quite grasped. We sold our house before we even listed it in May of 2021. So believing and speaking adventure for 2021 was forcing us into doing something about it. I secured a job teaching in Woodland Park, CO and Cindy was going to be able to work remotely. We sold our home, had secured jobs, so what next. The two of us began to make frequent trips to Colorado to begin to look for housing in a market that was not friendly to buyers from Oklahoma. We looked at everything they had in that area. Buying, renting, apartments, tiny homes, even the thought of an RV in a campground crossed our minds. After 4 different trips and 2 months of hotel living we had almost lost hope on finding something. Then it happened.

At every turn I kept telling Cindy, remember we are on an adventure and it is going to work out. Let’s just keep living. We were heading back to Oklahoma for the last time to get our stuff from storage and U-Haul back up to the mountains, to where we didn’t know, but we were coming. Together, we decided to ask a Realtor to show us one more house the night before we left. We liked it a lot and decided to put in an offer. We met the Realtor the next morning at 6am on the way out of town with an earnest money check and would wait as we drove all day to hear on the fate of our offer. As we pulled into Tulsa we got the call. Our offer was accepted. Had we found that home in the mountains? Was the adventure turning from dream to reality? As Lee Corso says on Game Day…..not so fast my friend. 

….our hearts were finally in the mountains.

A few weeks later the appraisal came back $30,000 under what the asking price had been. Our lender would not lend us more than the appraisal and we were sure that we would have to make up that $30,000 difference in cash. Which would have been doable had we not been living in a hotel for two months. It was either the seller come down that amount or we lose the house. We were sure we were dead in the water and headed for living in a van down by the river. But when you are ALIVE, living an adventure, good things tend to happen. The sellers came down, we had enough left in savings for closing, and our little dream home became a reality. Now we had to downsize, and I mean a lot, but when you are ALIVE and really living it isn’t about the size and the stuff anymore. Home really becomes where your heart is and our hearts were finally in the mountains. 

There is power in One Word.

If you had told me by the end of 2021 I would have made such a huge move. A move from a place that had been my home basically my entire life. Found a new job and career path in the place that was our dream spot for retirement. Gone from dreaming about snow covered peaks to seeing them as I pulled into work each morning. Thriving and feeling alive every single moment I would have laughed and said SOMEDAY. I should have known anything was possible because 8 years ago I was homeless, an alcoholic, and at the end of my rope. I thought my story was dead. But by the grace of God, I believed in life again, I spoke life again, and I began to just live again. And 8 years later, man what an adventure.

There is power in our words. If we believe it, we speak it, we can do it. If we take the big leaps of faith, the courageous steps of action to get there our dreams can become our adventure. And that adventure leads us feeling fully alive in every single fiber of our being. The entire year of 2021, I just keep saying it is all part of the adventure. I am sure at some point my wife wanted to give me a good swift throat punch but I am glad she didn’t. Our words are power people. 2021 showed me that. Believe it, SPEAK IT, and then go do it. 

I cannot wait to see how alive these young souls become.

I have used this one word activity in my classroom and in my locker room. It is something that you can use in yours too. In my classrooms we do what I call the First Five. We use that time to journal. Sometimes directed by a prompt that connects with what we are studying at the time but many times just in self reflection and building of self-esteem. We write down gratitude lists, I AM statements and in January we will be writing about our goals and the one word that can fuel us there. We have monthly check-ins to see if our actions are aligning with our goals and our one word. It will be something they can believe in, their dream, not mine. They will speak it constantly, and I know many will begin to go and do great things. I cannot wait to see how alive these young souls become. 

In my locker room, I take a brand new game ball. Going through the same process each player finally comes to that one word that aligns with their personal goals and our team goals. Each player writes their word on the ball and it goes on display in our locker room. I also print and laminate each player’s word so that it can be posted in their locker as a daily reminder. Once the season begins, I select the first player of the week. Not based on stats but based on how well that player is living out their one word. The player writes his name on the ball and dates it. Then each week after the selected player passes on the ball to the next deserving student athlete. It promotes ownership of our words, our goals, our culture. This adds accountability to what we believe, speak, and do. It brings to life those words, it gives the locker room a symbol of the power of those words. It gives them practice in something so important for their life beyond education. The activity allows them to see that if they believe it, speak it, and live it, that their word brings their dreams to life. It shows them just how much power is in one word. 

On some social media posts this week I asked educators about one word that would sum up the year in 2021. I got answers like stressful, exhausting, daunting, demoralizing, and WTF. But then I also got answers like invigorating, stimulating, fun, fulfilling, and hopeful. The answers were either positive or negative. But whatever side of the fence they fell, they were honest and that person’s truth. Yet did they realize the power of that one word. It summed up what they believed, what they spoke, and what they are about to do heading into 2022. What we believe, what we speak, is what we become. Such a simple idea yet one that holds such power and truth. 

Listen, in 2021 being an educator was hell. It was possibly the hardest year most educators have ever experienced. There were probably times where we all felt like throwing in the towel. But that is not what we do. We are educators, we are champions. Educators are in the trenches every single day, fighting a war that can only be known by teachers, coaches, support staff, and administrators. We are not only built for these battles we have been prepared by what we do daily in our profession. 2022 is full of adversity and it is just now getting started, but if we believe for better, speak better, together we can do better. There is power in our words, how will you choose to speak in 2022. 

What word would make the most difference….

I challenge you to find ONE WORD for 2022. One word that aligns with where you see yourself at the end of this year. That one word that will fuel you to a greater sense of purpose. One word that if believed, if spoken, if followed up with action will make this year a game changer for the students and staff you serve. I have been thinking about mine. How could I follow up on adventure, my word for 2021. What word would align with me building on being alive up here in the mountains. What word would make the most difference in the purpose I have of leading and loving people, especially kids, to believe and discover that they are the greatest miracle in the world.

One word kept coming to mind but I didn’t think it was grand enough to follow up adventure and what was an amazing 2021. And yet it kept coming up in my reflection time of trying to find my one word for 2022. It reminded me that it isn’t about being grand enough, making a big splash for others to say, well done Kip, but rather a simple word that will make a difference for others. It just needs to be my word, and a word that will help me keep sharing my story and serving up that secret sauce. So I decided to go with it, I didn’t need to find a more grandiose word, the word for 2022 found me. And that word is LOVE.

What is your ONE WORD?

What is your word? Leave it in the comments, I challenge you to share this blog post and in your post just leave one word, your word for 2022. Spread it like wildfire and let’s take back education in 2022. Let’s help educators everywhere remember why we do what we do. Our words are power. Believe it in 2022, Speak it in 2022, and go be that champion for kids in 2022. What we believe, what we speak is what we become. 2021 set me on the adventure of a lifetime, 2022 all I do I am going to do in LOVE. 

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