Kicking off 2021: My word, my song, and my purpose

David O'Hagan
5 min readJan 6, 2021
Credit: Ikea

One year ago I had high hopes for 2020. I loved the number, the symbolism, and the opportunities that lay ahead.

I typically appreciate a bit of chaos and non-conformity in life. Especially as I get older. It will keep me young and on my toes—I tell myself.

As we saw early on in 2020, the world became engulfed in chaos, from the Coronavirus to a number of other global events.

But as always (and even in these pandemic times), perspective and choice are key.

Taking on (or fighting for, when necessary) a positive perspective, allows us to make the best choices, and leads to positive results and ultimately greater joy. So here’s to quality perspectives and much more joy in 2021!

My word

My word for 2021: Co-create

I began using this word extensively in 2020, and will continue to do so because there is so much untapped value in co-creation.

New, fresh, and game-changing ideas are tough. If they were easy to produce, we’d be pumping them out often. We’d regularly saunter into the office in the morning with a sly grin. The office would go quiet as the staff looked up to us in awe and amazement—having just reviewed our latest brilliant new idea, that just happened to pop into our head on the way to work.

Great ideas often lead to new and improved products, services, processes, and customer experiences. But innovative new ideas can be hard to come by in a busy, distracted, and competitive world.

Many of us take on the full weight of responsibility for new ideas because of our role or title. And those without the lofty titles often feel that their job is just to do the work, not daydream about what could be.

But that is where I want to change things.

Regardless of your role in a company, on a team, in a family, or even if you’re the ‘ideas guy’—better and more interesting ideas (and results) come when you get together with others to create.

We’re human. We’re social beings. We often prefer to engage, communicate, and work with others, especially when tasked with creating something new and better and different. The co-creation process (simply working together with one or more people) opens up unique opportunities for people to build on one another’s ideas. It also provides the space for one’s idea to be a mental spark for another person, triggering a completely new idea.

And sure, some of us are more extroverted than others. But that shouldn’t hold us back. We’ve run multiple highly interactive workshop sessions (even in Zoom) where some of the more introverted participants tell us afterwards that they actually really enjoyed themselves. (I love this!) And baby steps are fine. Pair up a couple of team members, create a simple team-based game for your kids, or gamify a standard team process to stimulate collaboration opportunities and excitement.

Two of the best elements of co-creation are:

  1. Ideas: Co-creation simply produces better, richer, and more diverse ideas (e.g., a competitive new product or service, a new activity for your children while their stuck at home, a unique way to engage your frustrating clients, or a new way to streamline an internal communication process)
  2. Skills: Co-creation empowers and equips people (sometimes without them even noticing) with valuable and transferable life skills (e.g., communication, collaboration, feedback, leadership, etc.)

And co-creation often helps you feel that you’re a part of something bigger than yourself, playing a part in creating a better world. And who doesn’t want that?

Co-creation pro tips

  • Break from the conventional: The typical team meeting with people sitting around a table (or in Zoom) generally results in lots of talk, but little concrete and practical ideas and action. Incorporate visual and interactive elements of design thinking, use LEGO, draw, or incorporate storytelling in your co-creation activities to mix things up and spark fresh ideas. (If you want help with this, contact us. We’d be happy to help you co-create personalized co-creation activities with you for your team, organization, or family.)
  • Get your end users involved! Far too many organizations try to figure out what is best for their customers, clients, and stakeholders themselves. Rather than try to figure out what is best for them, involve these users directly in the co-creation process. It’s rather silly not to, since they are directly involved in your solutions, and they may just surprise you with a fantastic idea that you hadn’t ever thought of yourself.

My song

My song for 2021: Lovers’ Eyes, by Mumford & Sons

I came across this song again in December and just can’t get enough of it. It energizes me every time I hear it. (And on occasion I dance wildly around the room.)

The song talks about struggles and trials in life, and how life is just hard sometimes. (Hey, 2020.)

But persistence (and trust) provides hope to press on. And then song shifts positively part way through, both in perspective and musically, with “Take my hand help me on my way.” There might just be a bit of co-creation going on there ;)

Mumford & Sons is a great band. And great too is their position that they are ‘fans of faith, not religion’. Me as well. Strongly.

My purpose

My purpose for 2021: To kick-start the fire inside every person, so that they enthusiastically pursue their greatest potential.

I like short and sweet, punchy and succinct. However specific and detailed really do drive richer results. Giving you more focus and clarity for action. And more vivid goals to excitedly envision. And more clarity and confirmation that you’re on the right track to your goals and visions.

So this year in the spirit of specificity and detail, I added the post-comma bit. A fire that has been kick-started in a person is great, but it’s even better when that person is actively and joyfully pursuing their best life possible.

This purpose continues to help me to jump (and at times, leap) out of bed in the morning. It helps me picture even more people with big toothy grins, achieving something they previously weren’t sure about. It inspires me to continue to be creative, as well as co-create new programs and solutions to empower others—in both the definition and pursuit of their own success.

Friendly promotion (because it’s just too good to keep to myself!): We recently launched the Purpose Playbook Program. The program packs a double-punch by actively helping individuals combine: 1. Clarity of purpose, with 2. An action plan to live out that purpose. So if you currently lack direction, motivation, or enthusiasm in your life, get in touch and take an empowering journey with us!

So here’s to not only an exponentially better year than 2020, but the absolute best year one of our lives, yet!

Life keeps getting better. And that’s largely due to the fantastically interesting people in my life. Thank you to everyone, old and new, that plays a part, big or small. Thanks especially to those that challenge my thinking and perspectives, as well as those that enthusiastically connect, collaborate, and co-create with me. There’s lots more to do, so let’s go!

Kicking off: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017



David O'Hagan

On a mission to find: innovators, status quo crushers, culture builders, hungry creatives, and warm sandy beaches