Some families have many cherished traditions for the winter holiday season, while others have just a few. Athletic Director Chad Byler said that his family falls into the latter category, so a few years ago, he decided to create one.
The tradition he chose was one that can fit into anyone's life, regardless of religious practice, and it has attained profound meaning for him and--despite some initial skepticism--for his entire family. The tradition is deceptively simple: Choose one word that to keep as your focus for the entire year to inspire your quest to be a better person.
“It is a lens to see the change you need to make," he said. “Staying focused on the right word will help you struggle in the right direction."
How do you pick a word? That's a challenge, Coach Byler noted. He offered a process that he uses: Step 1--Think hard about the kind of person you want to become. “Drive deep into your soul" as you ponder that question, he said. Step 2--Think of the characteristics of someone you greatly admire, and list the characteristics on a sheet of paper or (if you're going paperless) a device. Step 3 -- Pick a word that you feel will help you move in the direction of self-improvement.
Once you have your word selected, put it in places where you'll be reminded each day; he suggested a notecard at the bottom of your bathroom mirror.
Coach Byler said that sharing the word can help with motivation. He shares his with a group of friends, and his family has embraced a way to unveil their words to one another. They go to a church service at Christmas Eve and then out to dinner, which is the setting for sharing their words. Now, he said, his entire family looks forward to that moment of revealing their words.
What's Coach Byler's word for the year ahead? “Purpose." He said that he feels a need to be more purposeful in how he speaks, acts, and even how he uses his phone, where he sometimes finds himself wasting time.
One thing that gives Coach Byler purpose is his tradition of greeting students at the arch in the morning. As we launch into 2021, he said, don't be surprised if he asks: “What's your word?"