Grow Inspire

My Three Words for 2015

My three words for 2015 are: Sceptre, Beams, Orchard

This year, I return to words that serve as metaphors. These three words are the windows to new opportunities and the windows that deliver illumination along the path that leads the way.

Sceptre is my window to authority and the power to speak.

Beams give strength, energy and direction.

Orchard is my window to commitment, design, patience and harvest.

Shout-out to Chris Brogan for inspiring me with the “my three words” practice, which I discovered back in 2010 or thereabouts.

[Tweet “Words are the windows that reveal how we see and shape our world. #3words”]


The sceptre is a symbol of authority and power. The person who holds the sceptre has the duty to act and the right to speak.

Sceptre is the word that came out of the blue to me and seemed to be unrelated to the other words on the short list I started working on a few weeks ago. I've never had a problem giving myself permission to take action, but I sometimes am reluctant to take charge or to speak “loudly.” Until I was around age 24, I wasn't reticent to take on leadership roles.

Something changed in my mid-20s, and I became more reserved, less willing to be “out front” in leadership roles, unwilling to tell my story. I didn't even want leadership roles anymore because I began to associate leadership with hubris and selling-out. I saw too many politicians and corporate-types seize power and then use it to destroy and/or pillage.

In the second half of 2014, I came to realize that I'd done a terrible job of telling my own story of successes, challenges, strengths. And that I'd done an even worse job of explaining how I've been helping others. I came to realize that by refusing to accept my strengths or use them in the public service of others, I had been, in effect, rejecting my calling.

The Sceptre serves as a reminder that I have accepted my mission, and that I have the duty, the power and the authority to speak and act in pursuit of the Shine vision that I've been given. The Shinecast (my focus in 2015) is a part of that mission, as is Shine Springs Farm.


Beams represent energy, strength, illumination and direction.

Energy is revealed through particles and waves that travel in beams.

We perceive light through waves of energy that is reflected off an object.

Navigational guidance comes through electromagnetic signals that are beamed to ships and planes.

Bars of heavy wood or metal serve as beams that support buildings. Without beams, a structure has no real foundation.

A beam also provides the balance to a scale. Think of the scales of justice. The beam is the cross-bar that enables balance.

I am both a recipient and transmitter of beams. I am a beam of light and energy to others.


The Orchard represents design, longevity, legacy.

An orchard requires planning, pruning, patience, and it lasts beyond one season. In the old days, when families lived off the land, orchards were investments for the future and a source (and sign) of wealth.

Orchards require attention to produce a meaningful harvest and the patience to allow nature to proceed at nature's pace.

A successful orchard is not, however, reflected in the industrial-style monoculture we see today in the giant orchards of corporate farms.

A flourishing orchard is filled with a diversity of life, provides habitat for an array of creatures, and delivers a bountiful harvest.

As much as I love gardening and growing things, I'm not using Orchard here in a literal sense, though. Orchard is not about a specific outcome. When the word “orchard” first popped in my head, I kept asking: “Why orchard? Why not garden?” The distinction is something I contemplated for hours, both actively and subconsciously.

For me in 2015, Orchard is about commitment, design, focused effort, pruning where necessary, patience and harvest. The Shine Vision is the orchard. The Shinecast Project and Shine Springs Farm are cornerstone species in the orchard.

What Are Your 3 Words for 2015?

So those are my three words for 2015: What are your three words?

Did you write a post about them? Leave a link below in the comments–I'd love to read your post and find out more about YOUR three words.

2015 is YOUR year to Shine.

[Tweet “2015 is my year to Shine.”]

My three words for 2013: Zoom, Vivace, Jazz

Zoom: Vision for a multi-media “empire” and related to my ability to zoom out to see the big-picture and zoom in to focus.

Vivace: An attitude and zest for life, happiness, health, fitness

Jazz: Improvisation within an ensemble. Great jazz is improvisational, but rarely do great jazz artists perform purely as a solo act.

Find out more about Zoom, Vivace & Jazz and the 2013 year in review here.

The original Zoom, Vivace & Jazz explanation via my post on The Ben Franklin Follies.

My three words for 2014: Now, Be, Do

Now: Focus on the now, live in the present moment.

Be: Be authentic, live true to myself, stop striving and simply “be” as my new mission unfolds.

Do: Take action, while letting go of the need to control results (see above).

Image Credits: Photo of the sceptre is from WikiCommons and in the public domain by creator Michal Maňas (Snek01).  Other Photos by Sheree Martin.

my #3words 2015 sceptre, beams, orchard and 3 words for past years are now, be, do and zoom vivace jazz, words in moleskine


Reflections On 2013: Zoom, Vivace & Jazz

This past year has been an amazing time of growth and yet I’m not where I thought I’d be one year ago today. I’m farther along in some respects, way behind where I wanted to be in other respects. This post is an excerpt from a private reflection I wrote for my personal journal.

It was around this time last year when I started to consider the three words I would use to inspire me during 2013. Out of the blue, I settled on Zoom Vivace and Jazz.

Zoom Vivace Jazz

Zoom because of my intentions to make my childhood dream of a multimedia empire a reality. Not just something I played around with, but a real platform to tell stories and instigate change. And as a reminder to focus (zoom in) while keeping my eye on the big picture (zoom out).

Vivace because it’s about life, enthusiasm, energy.

Jazz to remind me to improvise, to interact with others and grow with them while pursuing my own creative vision.

These three words, with their multi-faced meanings, came to me so quickly and intuitively that I immediately knew they were the right words to inspire me and direct my actions in 2013.

January Through May 2013

In January and February I was on fire, thanks to the support from my Brave community.

January was especially productive because we have a Jan term that gave me greater flexibility in my schedule. Once classes resumed, I was extraordinarily busy with work, while simultaneously working on a book manuscript, participating in 20+ hours of webinar sessions for the Content Success Summit and other programs. I was learning how to develop webinars for my own business and working with a graphic designer on site upgrades for The Ben Franklin Follies.

In March I was focused on creating and giving conference presentations, for my own consulting business as well as academic research and poster presentations, doing several interviews for the Shine Springs Farm Shinecast.  I also had my classroom and administrative responsibilities.

Thanks to burning the candle at both ends, I got really sick for the first time in 12 years. Fortunately, the illness hit just as Spring Break got underway so I didn't have to miss any classes. Finally on Day 5 I had to succumb to antibiotics to beat it because I got worse each day, rather than better.

When I got back from giving my academic conference presentations in Denver in early April, my attention shifted fully to the classroom and finishing out the semester on a positive note.

Summer 2013

From late May through August I was immersed in my beekeeping and small organic farming enterprise. As much as I wanted to work on my writing and consulting business I had very little time to do so. Except for some work in late July, I spent the summer working on my farm venture.

Fall 2013

Fall 2013 was the second most difficult semester I've experienced as a college professor. Despite my best efforts and full attention to teaching and mentoring, I couldn't click with the students. I worked nonstop every day in my campus office, eating lunch at my desk every day, trying to find ways to inspire and motivate them but nothing seems to have worked. I don't know what happened. Well, I think I know but I won't go into it here.

Those misfires really left me deflated by November. I tried to inspire and motivate myself by returning to writing. Each  night when I got home, I'd have dinner and then sit down to write for an hour or three. Some nights were easier than others. But the process of writing helped me to remember and refocus on Zoom, Vivace and Jazz.

As Thanksgiving approached, I realized that I'd turned a corner from the despondence I felt over the lack of connection in the classroom. My vision was returning and my spirit was feeling restored. Writing can do that.

I also gave this faculty shoptalk the week before Thanksgiving. Although the class wasn't going as well as it had in the past, giving the talk about my vision for the course really helped to re-inspire me for the last few weeks of the semester.

I started writing this reflection on Zoom Vivace Jazz on Thanksgiving eve, which was also the night before my birthday. Although I continued to write regularly after that, I didn't publish any new blog posts for a while because I needed to finish out the semester, get the student work graded and guide them into the final exam period.

I feel very good about my efforts as a teacher in Fall 2013 and I am confident that, one day, the students will look back and realize what they gained from the experience. I wasn't perfect—I expected too much, I fear, probably gave too much work in one class and didn't provide the type of well-defined boundaries this particular group of students needed. As the teacher, I should have discovered that more quickly. Anyway, I learned a lot from the experience and I have already grown as a result.

A Revived Vivace Spirit

As the semester came to a close—and I was able to shift my attention back to my vision that I'd set out to achieve through the compass of Zoom Vivace and Jazz—I began to feel a sense of renewal, a new Vivace attitude.

So, although the outcomes for 2013 haven't fully-transpired as I'd intended back in January I've had many successes:

  • Established my apiary and became a beekeeper (even caught a swarm)
  • Gave two very well-received speaking engagements on social media marketing
  • Gave two very well-received academic conference presentations
  • Designed a comprehensive and re-usable poster on teaching social business
  • Well-received faculty shoptalk on teaching social business
  • Successful freelance writing work
  • Small but promising start in content marketing and social media consulting
  • Sold a decent volume of vegetables and produce from my organic farming venture
  • Maintained my health and fitness (even though I haven't been running)
  • Continued to focus on real food, prepared at home as the centerpiece of my diet
  • Continued my practice of ongoing professional development and learning
  • Taught 7 different courses and fulfilled my responsibilities to the best of my ability, including being on-campus, in my office at least 35 hours each week, as required.
  • Wrote thousands of words for my various websites
  • Published numerous episodes of my podcast, even though it's been on hiatus since June
  • Took time, from time to time, to revel in the wonders of nature, even when I wasn't at the farm
  • Practiced gratitude and offered blessings on others, especially when I felt annoyed or irritated
  • Spent more time interacting with others, especially my neighbors and strangers

So I could go on with the little things or go into more detail. But the main thing is to recognize the ways in which I've succeeded and grown.

Life is a journey, not a destination and Operation Forward Progress is going well and will continue into 2014.

Do you celebrate your successes? Do you track your personal growth? Do you use three words to guide your efforts?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you reflect on your own life. Please leave me a comment below. Let's talk!