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Employee Engagement and the 3 Word Theme: Stop, Focus, and Finish

Do you have a 3 word theme for your work?

History of the 3 word theme. I first heard of the 3 word theme from Chris Brogan. I have been using a 3 word theme for my work for 3 years and will be entering year four  in 2012.  Here are my themes from the last 3 years and for next year:

  1. In 2009 my theme was: authentic, connect, engage
  2. In 2010 my theme was: engage, mobilize, produce.
  3. In 2011 my theme was: engage, educate, enliven.
  4. In 2012 my theme is: stop, focus, and finish.

Benefits of a 3 word theme. A three word theme is succinct and easy to remember and leverage as a tool for work. It offers a quick guide and evaluation for work completed. It is a nice reflection tool for work and progress. It is also a great planning tool to get a tighter focus on the year ahead while offering flexibility in how those 3 themes are actualized.

2012: Stop, Focus, and Finish.  I usually begin to mull over next year’s theme starting in September until I find the perfect 3 words to encapsulate my intentions for the year ahead. I was fortunate to find the theme for 2012 in September of this year. Overall, I believe I have been trying to do too many things and need to focus on what work I chose to do. In addition, while taking on many tasks it becomes a challenge to finish specific tasks. With an early theme for 2012, I can determine what I need to stop doing, focus strongly on what I choose to do, and work towards a completion of the limited number of tasks I take on for 2012.

3 Word theme images.This is the first year I have added an image for each theme. A big thank you to my good friend and brilliant online designer, John Junson,  for creating colorful images to keep me  “on the button.” In previous years I have put the three words on the wall of my office so that I can see them and be reminded of them. For 2012, I now have 3 strong images to offer me visual and colorful guidance and focus for the year ahead.

10 steps to create and apply your own unique 3 word theme.

  1. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. Take time to mull over 3 words that are meaningful for you.
  2. The process of doing this may be of equal value to the outcome.
  3. View a number of other people’s 3 word themes to get ideas by clicking here.
  4. Voice your intended 3 word theme to other people to get their impressions and input.
  5. Once you find the 3 words that fit for you for the year ahead declare them to both other people and yourself.
  6. Make an image for each word to help you remember the 3 themes for the year ahead.
  7. Leverage the 3 themes to contemplate more focused and productive work.
  8. Apply the 3 word theme as your internal work GPS.
  9. Use the 3 themes to evaluate your work.
  10. In September, begin work on your 3 word theme for the following year.

What’s your personal 3 word theme? If you create  a 3 word theme please comment on this post or email me  and let me know what you created to guide your work engagement. All the best on building a strong and productive theme for the year ahead.

David Zinger is completing this year’s work on the theme of engage, educate, and enliven as he also transitions into 2012 with his powerful productivity troika of: stop, focus, and finish.

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