• David Redding

ONE WORD: The Rock


One Word is a method of increasing IMPACT

Instead of making endless and unattainable New Year’s resolutions, the idea is to designate a single word as the driving force for the year. The concept has been around since three guys published a book about it in 1999, but I only heard about One Word about seven years ago.


At first I made fun of it (probably because it wasn’t it my idea), but eventually I decided to give One Word a shot because it seemed to be working for so many F3 PAX and I really had nothing to lose. If I forgot about my word by the end of January (just as I had with my many failed resolutions in the past) it wouldn’t cost me much beyond some mild embarrassment because I intended to conduct my experiment publicly, as Failure works best when it is shared with everyone you know (and complete strangers).

Bacon was my One Word for 2019

I had the best intentions of reading the book before my first One Word, but I never actually got around to it, so my understanding of the concept was based almost entirely on what I had heard about One Word from podcasts and word of mouth.


As a result, I was probably a little off the reservation when I chose Bacon (rather than say, “mindfulness”) as my One Word for 2019. I was trying to think of something people are always happy to see (regardless of the circumstances) to remind me to be a man that people are always happy to see, as opposed to a Jackass people would rather not deal with. I settled on Bacon because that is something everybody loves to eat. Even people who can’t or won’t eat it love the way it smells while it’s cooking.


As heterodox as Bacon might have been in the world of One Word, it worked for me. Reminding myself every morning to #BeTheBacon helped me turn an optimistic and open face to the world (like bacon sizzling on the pan) that drew people to me rather than causing them to avoid me. It worked, even though I probably wasn’t doing One Word right

Bailey was my One Word for 2020

As 2019 drew to a close I got a little panicky because I couldn’t come up with a new One Word. I even contemplated using “mindfulness”, but once I read the definition (a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique) I knew it wouldn’t work for me. I mean, if I could reach that kind of mental state on my own I wouldn’t need a One Word, I’d just do it.


Luckily I didn’t have to try because I heard a podcast (podcasts again!) about Christmas movies that led to me rewatch It’s A Wonderful Life. By the end, I had my One Word for 2020: Bailey, as in George Bailey (the main character in the movie) who learned through Failure to embrace his role as a Servant-Leader, even when it hurt (which it often did). Although his life had not turned out as he had dreamed it would, his IMPACT on the people around him was so profound that their lives would have been greatly diminished if he had never lived his life. His life was wonderful, even if it wasn’t the life he had chosen for himself.


Watching the movie, it occurred to me that while there is some truth to the aphorism that no good deed goes unpunished, the larger truth about leading a Virtuous life is that God’s purpose may not always be clear (at least not in this life). Reminding myself every morning to #BeABailey helped me to focus on Servant-Leadership for its own sake, regardless of what was going on around me.


I didn’t know that 2020 would end up being the suckfest that it was, but now (looking back) I realize that the One Word I chose was a lifeline. I might have drowned in the river of my own sorrow without it.

Rock is my One Word for 2021

Which brings me to 2021. Unlike last year, I have known what my word was for at least three months: The Rock. That (I know) is actually two words, but #BeTheBacon and #BeABailey are technically three words, so I’m OK there.


The Rock is an image that is used throughout the Bible to symbolize the unchanging (and thus fully reliable) nature of God. People shift and undulate like sand blown about by the wind because the Flux is our nature, but God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow because that is His nature. As a result, relying on people can be dangerous—but God is always a sanctuary for those who turn to Him.


#TheRock is both a reminder to rely on God rather than the world and an impetus to be as solid a man as I can be by fighting the Flux in my daily life. If God is The Rock upon which I can safely rely, then maybe I can be a pebble that both reflects His nature and encourages others to seek Him.

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