Woah, what a year! That’s my initial reaction reflecting on 2019. What a year — in all its blessings and lessons. Based on the thousands of hours of conversations that I have had with our fierce community, you’ve shared similar sentiments with me.
When the Fierce team embarked on our 2019 year, we had a primary focus to listen and engage with our community more than we ever had before. This influenced many different Fierce initiatives, including a listening tour.
The listening tour consisted of 10 in-person, intimate roundtable conversations in cities around North America. (Thank you for all of those who joined me and for the amazing Fierce team who supported them!)
My hope for the tour was threefold: to exchange new ideas, to inform important decisions for the business, and to strengthen our relationships. I concluded the last one in Seattle this past Friday and can say without a doubt that we accomplished all of these goals, and then some.
The biggest takeaway from these conversations? 2019 was a big year for learning, which highlighted the need for even more learning in the years to come.
Many challenges were shared from the trenches. From doing more work with fewer resources to embracing new technology to navigating the ever-changing external landscape, and so much more.
When I asked what is required to be successful in tackling these challenges, the response became clear: everyone, from the top down, needs to be more open to learning than ever before.
This same sentiment has been true for Fierce. Let me share a few thoughts below on the eve of this new year:
First, Fierce celebrated its 18-year anniversary as a company this past June. We have learned so much as a team and an organization. Developing a deep knowledge of best practice and expertise that we are able to share with the world.
Most importantly, we are learning how to continue to best serve all of our courageous facilitators and clients who embrace change, who help their people and teams have the conversations they need to have.
Second, for me personally, this year concludes my first full year in my role as President of Fierce, and I continue to be so honored to do this work; it is humbling.
I consider what I do a profound privilege and a serious responsibility. I want to thank our amazing Fierce team for waking up every day with the spirit to be on this adventure together and do the hard work it takes.
While there is so much value in reflecting on this past year, it is looking forward that fills me with excitement and energy. This is especially true this year, as there is no better way to start a brand new decade than with a focus on learning.
So as we look into the new decade, you may ask yourself some version of these questions:
- What do you want to achieve?
- What do you want to keep doing?
- What do you want to stop doing?
- What do you want to start doing?
The first question often has the most standard, tangible responses: Change jobs. Get a promotion. Take on more responsibilities. Buy a new house. Build a new relationship. Achieve a new bodyweight.
But, what if this new decade isn’t about “arriving” somewhere specific as much as it is about evolving and building a better, more authentic version of you and of your life?
And if that is your focus, then the question becomes: Who do I want to be, and what do I need to learn to get there? What would shift if you created a life of learning?
Building a “life of learning” hits home with me both professionally and personally. Professionally, I often share with our employees that we must be focused on getting better every single day – at a specific task, at a specific technique, at what we do to help our clients, and each other, have better conversations.
Whatever it is, if we are learning every single day, I know our desired outcomes will follow. I love that our Fierce team often reminds me of these concepts and supports me through it all.
So, in order for us to get better and try new things, we have to be willing to fail. We have to be willing to take smart risks. This is what I want for our company – and for you.
Personally, building a life of learning highlights one of my favorite quotes from Annie Dillard: “How you spend your day is how you spend your life.”
I know that if I want to have an authentic, contributing, life of learning, I need to be filling my days with authenticity, giving to others, and consistently educating myself.
One of the ways I have focused on this since I was 18 is traveling to at least one new country a year. This has been a deep commitment to myself to learn and explore. Ultimately, there are hundreds of ways to live a life — people eat, sleep, pray, dream differently — and every time I learn more about a different culture, the more I learn about myself.
How to Begin Your Learning Journey
So, how can you start leading a life of learning? Here are questions to ask yourself that will ensure you are headed in the right direction:
- Challenge yourself to think differently about a situation or person. Where in your life do you want better results? Start there.
- Build a vision for who you want to be rather than what you want to have or own. How would you want someone important to you to describe you? Begin crafting.
- Embrace uncomfortable situations. Where can you scare yourself a little? We learn the most when we leave our comfort zones. Just do it.
- Surround yourself with people who help you learn. Who in your life do you admire? Have a conversation and tell them.
- Take leaps and being willing to fail. What are you holding on to? Have that conversation with yourself.
At the start of the last decade, December 2010 I was the 7th Fierce employee at the ripe age of 24. I would have never in a million years been able to predict the profound journey I was embarking on.
Every single person has been a mentor to me — whether intentionally or unintentionally. I know that my desire to learn every single day helped form the path behind me — and it will help form the path ahead.
As we move into 2020, I am re-energized to embrace learning like never before, and can’t wait to see where it leads me, and Fierce.
It’s an exciting time and one that I am so proud to be a part of.
Building a life of learning is not for the faint of heart, so I leave you with a poem from Tyler Knott Gregson:
If I do not follow you
out of this zone of comfort
I’ve lived safely inside,
Push me, pull me, or
throw me from that circle. If my wander loses
its lust, if the soles of my feet
begin to rust, if I forget
the way to adventure,
force it upon me until I
remember; demand a
life five thousand shades
My hope for you in this next decade is that you demand a life five thousand shades from ordinary. No more waiting. No more stalling. The time is now.
Ensure you have people who will push you out of your comfort zone. People who have the conversations you most need to have — even when they are hard.
And, in case you need to hear this: your fierce community and I are here ready to join you on this adventure…one fierce conversation at a time.