Thus Spoke Taylor

Last week, a friend described Taylor Swift as “A Force for Light.” I could not agree more. In honor of Taylor’s new album, I am bringing some lightness to the blog this week.

My love of words has grown over the years. One of my favorites is the term fortnightly. It is such an elegant, sophisticated word. It’s commonly used in the UK and Australia, but most Americans don’t know the term.

I have been on a crusade to increase awareness of this word in the US for several years. I’ve had limited success. I suspect I have reached dozens of people.

Then, last week, the Universe brought in some reinforcements to my cause. Taylor Swift released her new album, including a duet with Post Malone entitled Fortnight. I am confident that Taylor’s reach will finally give this beautiful word the popularity it deserves.*

If you are a Swiftie, you may also appreciate this post where I celebrated my daughter’s 21st birthday and shared a magical moment that Taylor created for us.

So, without further ado, I offer one of the first blog posts I ever wrote, expressing my love for the word and a story about the gift of shifting your perspective.

The Case for Fortnightly

In my last blog post, one of my reviewers suggested I replace “fortnightly” with “every two weeks.” Their concern was that most US readers weren’t familiar with the term. Ironically, another previewer who knows how much I love the word praised me for deftly incorporating it. I left it in because the word brings me great joy, even if it’s unfamiliar to many readers.

The story behind my love of the word is worth sharing, as it demonstrates the power of shifting your perspective. In my last Product Management role, I had a regular meeting with Rob Layton from R&D and Joe McIver, who led Professional Services in Australia. They are both wonderful people and I enjoy spending time with them, but I sometimes looked at this meeting with trepidation. One of Joe’s superpowers is his ability to drive accountability and follow through on a commitment. He is arguably the most gifted person I’ve ever met in this area. You quickly learn with Joe not to make a promise lightly. So, at times, I dreaded our meetings because of his accountability mastery. Did my team make a commitment to Joe that we did not follow through on?

Then, one day, Joe mentioned we’d discuss a topic in our next “fortnightly” meeting. I was struck by his use of a term I rarely hear. It sounded elegant, almost fantastical, and it was precise. In the US, we often say “bi-weekly,” which leaves you wondering if we mean “every two weeks” or “twice per week.” I pulled the word into my vocabulary, and it became a game for me—how often could I work the word into conversation?

Then, something unexpected happened. I began to anticipate my fortnightly with Joe and Rob. The simple joy of using that word and my gratitude to Joe for re-introducing it pivoted my perspective of the meeting. I know that sounds simplistic. Sometimes, the little moments of joy and gratitude make all the difference.

Please join me in my campaign to re-establish fortnightly in American English. What obscure word brings you inexplicable joy?

I am an executive coach and life coach with software executive roots in higher education and EdTech. I coach because I love to help others accelerate their growth as leaders and humans. I frequently write about #management, #leadership, #coaching, #neuroscience, and #arete.

If you would like to learn more, schedule time with me.

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* As a child, I had a similar love of the word “butthead” and also worked to try to increase that word’s popularity. In hindsight, I recognize the Universe offered support to this cause as well, first as a staple in the show The Wonder Years, and then bolstered by Beavis and Butthead.

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