One Word that Could Change Your Life

I usually have an answer for just about everything. But not today. Today I was stumped. Someone I know asked me who I was. Not who I was, but who I was. Know what I mean?

I didn’t quite know how to answer without taking up the next 3 days to tell my story in excruciating detail. All of the experiences that have come together to shape my life. The beliefs that have influenced my decisions. The titles that I have had over the years. How I spend my day and how that affects who I am. And of course how all of that boils down to a single statement of what I stand for and where I am going. Just hearing it as it was coming out of my mouth confused even me…and I was actually there for most of it! Imagine how he felt.

Am I a blogger? A social media guy? A search engine optimizerist (I realize that is not a word…yet)? A marketer? Inspirational writer? A speaker? Author? Musician? Who the hell am I? And how am I expected to compile this made for TV Lifetime movie that is my life experience into one 60 second sound byte?

I couldn’t.

So, I fumbled around with a few words for a bit before shining the light back into his eyes and putting the question on him. Who are you?

One Simple Word

The response I got was a one word answer. One simple word. That was it. And dammit if it wasn’t the perfect word for him. It was so clear. Everything he was about was represented in this one word. You can see it in his writing. In who he is as a human being. In his accomplishments. And in the choices he makes every day.

This one word. Clearly guiding him.

What I couldn’t seem to coherently get out in under 72 hours, he was able to get out in one word. So of course it got my wheels turning…

What is My Word?

If I had to choose one word to describe myself what would it be? What is the one word that encompasses who I am…beyond the obvious stuff on the surface. Beyond my career. Beyond what I write about. Beyond the things I’ve accomplished.

If you were to cut me open, what would I bleed? And what is the one word that describes it?

I don’t know. Not yet anyway.

I hope you were not sitting on the edge of your seat expecting some big reveal. An emotional “tada” moment where I would unveil my word at the end of this post making this concept seem crystal clear along with the path I took to get there. I’m no more prepared to answer the question right now as you for yourself after are hearing this for the first time.

I don’t have my word. I don’t know how to figure out what my word is. And I certainly don’t know how to help you find yours. Not yet anyway. It would be disingenuous of me to state otherwise.

Basically, we’re in this together.

Keep Searching…

I do know this. Whatever word you are currently thinking of is not it. You haven’t dug down deep enough. Grab your shovel and keep digging until it starts to hurt. And then go a little deeper. That’s what I plan on doing.

Start by writing out 1,000 different words describing who you are. Maybe it’ll be in there. Or try free-writing. You might find it lurking in the shadows of your subconcious. Or maybe answer the question “who am I?” and then keep asking “why” over and over again until you are no longer able to come up with a response. Maybe that last word is it.

Eventually I know we will both find it. Maybe as soon as today. Or maybe it will take a week. Or a year. Or maybe even a lifetime. I don’t know. I do know that today starts the journey.

So, what is your word?

  • Kim Jobst

    Absolutely Love this Marc – have been through a similar process – the word has changed…. but the last is beginning to have a different lasting resonance. In the Beginning was the word…..

    • Marc Ensign

      That’s awesome Kim…care to share your word and how you came up with it?

  • paul jarvis

    so what was his word? i wish i had one for myself since i do so many things that don’t seem touch: musician, designer, writer, yogi, minimalist…

    • Marc Ensign

      Hey Paul! Out of respect, I’d rather not say. It’s one of those personal things and he confided in me so I don’t want to break that trust. As for doing all of those things, I’m right there with you and have struggled with it a lot for many years. Especially the musician part!

    • Marc Ensign

      Here is a link to an article I wrote with my struggle over my title of being a musician:

  • Emelia Sam

    At the moment, it seems to be “perplexed.”

    • Marc Ensign

      Hopefully I didn’t make you perplexed with this post!!

  • Melissa Ng

    What’s my word? Not sure…It’s an important question to ask but it’s also a question that’s kind of scary…for me at least.

    Part of me wants to figure out that one word so I can find some comfort in feeling like I know myself–know my identity. But the other part of me is afraid that I might restrict myself. And still another part of me is afraid to find out that maybe I still don’t know much about who I am after all.

    Thoughts like “Maybe I still haven’t experienced life enough to know” or “When will I ‘really’ know?” float around in my head. Le sigh.

    Adding this article onto my to-do list.

    • Marc Ensign

      All good points! There’s no rule that says you can’t change your word as you “grow up”. When you figure it out, make sure you swing back!!

  • Matt Brennan

    Wow. That gives me something to think about. I might have to steal from Emelia at this point, but hopefully soon I’d have a better answer.

    • Marc Ensign

      How’s the thinking going Matt? Still perplexed? Or have you come up with your word yet?

  • Linda Doty

    One of my favorite bands, Concrete Blonde, has a song with a line that says “I never could say anything in 20 words or less.” that I always felt described me. One word?? Holy cow.

    I thought I had boiled it down on a previous profile where I said “I just want to make you laugh.” That’s 6 words, so it doesn’t satisfy the requirement.

    All I can think of in 1 word is MORE. Always more.

    • Marc Ensign

      Don’t worry…it’s not coming to me very easy either! I’m still working on mine. I have it narrowed down a bit, but not quite there yet!