The Power of ONE WORD

One word can have significant impact, if it’s the right word for you. I know this from experience. This is my third year to use the #OneWordONT challenge to reflect, connect and contribute – thanks Julie Balen. You’d think selecting ONE WORD would get easier with practice. It doesn’t.

Each year brings new perspectives, challenges, insights and resolutions. This year is no different. As I reflect, as we often do at the beginning of a new year, I recognize that I’ve been changed by the focus that ONE WORD can bring. My first word was HEART. This became my call for the year to find ways to share heart-felt moments and to open my heart towards others. Last year, I chose the word COLOUR and this focus changed the lens I used, particularly when listening to news stories. It opened my eyes to new perspectives and points of view. It shifted my cultural stance. I can now see that these two words have incrementally changed me – they became words of ‘friction’.

The power of one word is not insignificant! ONE WORD can gently guide, carelessly catapult or instigate change in unknown ways throughout the coming year. I need to reflect and select my ONE WORD with care.

I’ve taken time to play with some ideas and tried out some one word contributions from previous participants (found on Twitter and blog posts). I’ve been digging into an online dictionary and thesaurus. I’ve been tinkering with words in VisuWords and Lexipedia since these are great places to play with words.

I’ve left myself open to opportunities. Thanks to some serendipity in my search, I’ve decided to select a word will provoke and catalyze change in my life. This word does not sit easily on my mind or slip effortless from my lips. It’s a word that will make me uncomfortable in the coming year. Its a difficult word to figure out, but I’ve got a whole year to work on that. This word is going to push me out of my comfort zone.


First, I’d to thank Rusul Alrubail for this word. Her blog Through These Words… was the starting point. I’d never heard or seen this word before Rusul introduced it to me in January 2016. Serendipity brought me back to this post where I had commented on Rusul’s thoughts. She responded with words that resonated and have come back to challenge me yet again.

“Thank you so much for stopping and sharing your thoughts here. I agree with you, remaining silent in open spaces is easy for many reasons, and listening and speaking often is hard. But I think here’s where we should push outside our comfort zone and do something that’s hard but still support our belief in solidarity and social justice. It was hard for me to write this post, no matter how lightly I touched the surface of inequality in education. But through the many conversations I’ve been having with other educators, I was empowered to share my own thoughts. So thank you for sharing yours🙂”

Second, I’d like to thank the Digital Media Lab 2016 conference for bringing together two diverse people who’s voices shared personal experiences about the need to speak out and stand together – Digital Dreamers: Jose Antonio Vargas talks with Henry Jenkins. As I come to try to define this word, I’m looking for models and actions to guide me. Henry Jenkins, a media researcher, talks about his background and how he’s come to stand (sit) on a stage with Jose Antonio Vargas. The whole talk is worth a listen, but I think that Jenkins describes ALLYSHIP starting at about the 18 min mark.

I’d also like to thank Gord Downie, who is bringing ALLYSHIP to Canadian contexts. This is a model that will resonate and shape my understanding and actions into this coming year. I’m not the only one who is finding inspiration in Gord Downie‘s actions and words. Just read Joseph Boyden’s seven love songs for Gord Downie in Macleans Magazine to gain insights. I’d have the same reaction if I met either of these ALLYSHIP mentors.

allyshipFinally, since this word has been ‘calling’ me out, I’ve been looking for definitions to help me shape and guide my thinking. Turns out, it’s not so easy to define. Rusul has provided some insights in her blog post. I came across this Guide to Allyship that expanded on some of the ideas. I’ve tried to capture the connected ideas into a word cloud that may help in the coming year. You can take a closer look at this word collection on this interactive Tagul word cloud. Best part is, I’ve got a year to work with this word and learn more about my own ALLYSHIP. The new year awaits!

What’s your ONE WORD for 2017?

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1 Response to The Power of ONE WORD

  1. Pingback: Out of my comfort zone! | Five Flames 4 Learning

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