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Updated: Jan 11, 2020

I have learned a lot from Energy Bus author Jon Gordon, but his one word focus is probably my favorite. Gordon is the first person to get me thinking about committing to one word for the year instead of making new year's resolutions.

From Jon's website,

9 out of 10 people will fail with their resolutions.

50% of resolution makers will fail by the end of January. But one word sticks!

That's why eight years ago, I stopped making New Year's resolutions and started picking one word for the upcoming year. No resolutions, no

goals... just one word that gives meaning, mission, passion, and purpose. One word that will help me be my best.

I can't say I have been very intentional with the words I have chosen in years past, but a concept has resonated with me now, and I am ready to live it out for the next 12 months.

My word for 2020 is 'anteambulo'. Anteambulo — literally means “clearing the path.” An anteambulo proceeded in front of their patron anywhere they traveled in Rome, making way, communicating messages, and generally making their lives easier. Author, Ryan Holiday, brings this greek term to life in his book 'Ego is the Enemy'.

All the coaches reading this are proud to be called a 'coach.' The term comes from the stagecoach era. A coach was used to get someone to a place they couldn't get otherwise. When I speak to groups, I ask them to define what a coach is and if they know where the term originated. 'Coach' dates back to the 1550s. Its genealogy is 'carriage of the Kocs', which is the village in Hungary where the wagons were made.

Anteambulo takes coaching others to another level. A coach or carriage is not very personal. It is an industrial, innate object that serves a purpose. Passengers enter it and stay there until they get from point A to point B. They then exit, and the 'coaches' job is over.

An anteambulo is a care-taker in a crowded market. He is an egoless servant who has some else's best interest at heart. Imagine a crowded market (Black Friday?) back in Roman times. A patron has hired a young man to clear the way. The anteambulo has to be intentional. He has to look ahead, nudge people, create an opening. He must do this over and over again.

The is power in words. Anteambulo makes me think about being a servant and mentor to my athletes and young assistant coaches. A coach makes me think I am just helping someone improve. Coaches all over the country are working with athletes to get from a 300-pound squat to a 400-pound squat or decrease their 40 times.

I mention in Culture Defeats Strategy that I love working out in a coach-led setting at Orange Theory. The classes are up to 24, and a coach leads the workout. It is WAY better than me attempting to do the same training on my own. BUT, it is not personable for the most part. They let the customers know what pace to run on the treadmill, when the clock says to switch to another station, etc. They are doing a great job of improving the health of their 'team orange'. A personal trainer would cost a lot more, but they give their clients more. They not only lead a workout but listen, motivate individually, hold each client accountable, customize workouts, and more. A personal trainer is much more like an anteambulo.

Think about being a 'path-clearer' and not only get them stronger, faster or more skilled but being personal in the way you do it: a father or mother figure, a servant-leader, an obstacle-removing anteambulo.

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