New Year Revolution.

How are you building your cultural resolution?

Lots of English words have more than one meaning, but there’s a special class of those words, called contranyms, where one of their meanings is the opposite of another.

We might dust a sideboard to clean it or dust a pancake to cover it. We can sanction something to prevent it or permit it. The night is brighter when the stars are out, and darker when the lights are out.

And revolution is the same – it can signal the start of a whole new era, or another repeat of the same old cycle.

In this first week of the New Year, I’ve seen both of those definitions in the minds of different people. For some, returning to work after a short break at the end of a long, difficult year, the spectre of another tough January appears like Groundhog day.

For others, even those in the same industry who’ve been through the exact same trials and tribulations, January 2022 is the month to come out swinging, to set new goals, to go after new opportunities, to take control and make things happen.

What type of revolution are your people anticipating? Another turn of the wheel? Another long haul uphill through the slings and arrows of 2022? Or a breakthrough year – a year of opportunity where everything can, and probably will change?

Expectations are catching, they spread through a company’s culture and, for better and worse, they have a way of coming true. So, the revolution question is not about what you think, or about what you think your people should think, it’s about deep down what they expect. Because whatever they expect is probably what you’ll get.

More than at any previous turn of the year, this January, those prevailing cultural beliefs have the potential to define the future of your business.

What are you doing to shape that culture? How are you connecting with your people, understanding how they see the year ahead, shaping their beliefs, raising their expectations, and building their resolution to make it happen?

I could have started this note with that hackneyed January greeting of wishing you a “Happy New Year”. But wishing is not acting, and now is the time for leaders to act.

If you want a happy New Year, take the reins, decide what the New Year revolution means to you, what it should mean to your team, and start building that cultural resolution.