The Three Word Mantra – An easy way to guide your choices in 2014


three word mantraManagement is Dead

For years I’ve stressed to my staff, and teams across our company, that management (pure task division and assignment) is dead.  The reason, I submit, is that data comes at us too quickly and moves around too quickly for all of it to be summarized and taken to a single point of decision-making. So that old model of management just doesn’t work unless you’re working in really slow-moving and slow-changing environments.

In it’s place I have suggested the mantra. It’s short. It’s simple. It’s tweet-able. And most importantly, it’s easy to remember (which makes it effective).

My staff know what kinds of decisions I would make simply by learning a set of mantras. If you’ve spent time on my site, or heard me talk, then you know some of them, like “hope isn’t a strategy” and “done done.” I have forty of them (which I promise I’ll write more about some day).

The Three Word Mantra

There’s another mantra I use, but it’s not static. It changes each year. And it’s only three words long. But even though it’s small, it does its job.

The three world mantra is a phrase that helps me think through the trade-offs I face – it’s a personal tool, not a corporate one.

Last year I used “Consistently Encourage Others” and it drove my daily blogging, my presentations, and tons of phone calls. This next year I’ve chosen, “Create Shared Memories.” It will drive a lot of choices I make – driven by the overall goal to live life among friends and create once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

One of my friends, Suzette, has already settled on educating and documenting more, using “Educate. Document. Delight.” and I know every one of us will benefit from all the stuff she’s going to publish this next year.

What about you?

What will drive your decisions in 2014? Will you “Launch new products”? Or “Achieve bigger goals”? Will you “Help others more”? Or “Take decisive action”?

My friend Adam (and no, I won’t link to his dumb blog that got over a million hits in a single day – even though that took me just over a year) took two words and turned them into three “Word hard er.”

What will you do? How will you make your decisions in 2014?

Whatever you decide, come back and post your three word mantras below in the comments. I want to know them. And I want to encourage you (even though that was last year’s).

And who knows, maybe it will include “Attend Lema Parties” – which I promise will me new shared memories!

PS. Save April and August for some special “Lema & Friends” events – including a Cabo trip and a Cruise.

About This Site

This site is hosted by Pagely - running on Amazon's hardware, making it lightning fast. They're a managed WordPress host which means they take care of my site so I don't have to. Starting at $24/month, this may be the perfect solution for you too.


  1. Nathan P. says:

    Working Hard Together – my business is focused around connecting people together, so that will help me focus on that.
    Personally, it’s “New Year, New Opportunities” – four words, but expresses best how I feel about a new year!

  2. Tom McFarlin says:

    I’m gonna take your three word mantra and double it then add one (because math works like that ;), then I’m gonna borrow a phrase from my brother: “All you gotta do, is do it.”

    On a more serious note, I have internal mantras that I follow, but they are more for self-discipline and getting things done – basically glorified task management – but they are things that I believe are unique to my personality (or at least my personality type) and aren’t necessarily something that I think works for everyone.

    Case in point: This is something that I’ve talked to death with my wife. We’re two totally different personality types. What works for me in no way works for her – and vice versa :).

    I should probably cover all of the above in a blog post.

  3. joejenkins says:

    I have a mantra which is both personal and used in my business, and it’s one that is worth sharing:

    “If you don’t ask, the answer will be no”

    An example of this, is when we were making a short indie film a few years ago. I wanted it set in an authentic Tudor setting, so I asked the local council if they could let us use the ‘Tudor House Museum’, some parts of which date back to 1067. They said I could have it for a week as renovation work would soon be taking place, and they still let me have it after telling then this was a zero budget film – so no payment could be made.

    I asked and the answer was yes. If I’d thought to myself that they wouldn’t possibly let me have it free for a week, I wouldn’t have asked and the answer would then have instantly been no.

  4. Embrace Done Done.

    Too often I struggle with following tasks to 100% completion. It is my downfall. I am really excited for 2014, and I am determined to see things through.

    Chris, it was interesting to see that your three word phrase for 2013 was, “Consistently Encourage Others.” Because that is exactly what you did for me. I still have a long way to go, but you have encouraged me to just get started. And to share whatever knowledge I have.

    Happy New Year

  5. My 3 words are: Create, Service, and Ship.

    I want to focus on creating content daily. For my blog, for my podcast, and for my members (customers). Even if it’s just a little bit every day.

    Then, everything I do needs to be in service to others. I want to give customers a reason to stick around. I do that by providing exceptional customer service. Putting service first is a great way to build a business.

    Lastly, ship. I need to doubt less, and just ship it. I have lots of ideas but sometimes they’re put on hold because I’m waiting for it to be perfect or questioning/doubting the outcome. No more of that. Ship it. See what works, what doesn’t, iterate, and ship it again.

  6. Tom O'Malley says:

    Kudos for promoting the use of a business or career mantra. As we begin our exit from the development stage, we use what is called a Rallying Cry having learned it from Pat Lencioni. His book, The Advantage, is a must read for all leaders who want their company to realize its full potential.

    BTW, management is not dead, but your definition of it is. The post WWII model of command and control is all but history (it still has to be exorcised from government and some businesses), but not the version that has evolved. In The Essential Drucker, Chapter One sums it up. “Management is about human beings. Its task is to make people capable of joint performance, to make their strengths effective and their weaknesses irrelevant.”

    Keep up the terrific work, Chris!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>