Raising my sights in 2019

As I sit here quietly in the dawn of 2019, I feel deep gratitude for the year that has just passed — and tremendous hope for the year ahead. My hope is for a year where I raise my sights, to notice things more and see what can blossom from seeds I have sown over the past few years.

At the beginning of last year, I set the intention to ‘stay the course’ on big changes that I had made in both my personal life and at Mozilla. This has paid off. I have a house of my own that I have slowly, and with the help of others, turned into a home. I have a renewed sense of family and community, including a much richer relationship with my boys. And, I have energy, hope and gratitude for Mozilla and the people I work with that is stronger than it has been in years. Being present and staying the course on a good set of choices, made these things possible.

Looking ahead, it would be easy to say ‘I should just stay the course on staying the course’. In some ways, that is what I will do. Yet, I also want to look at things from a slightly different angle as I proceed.

My intention for 2019 is to ‘raise my sights’ — to look out further as I walk. In doing so, I hope to observe things I otherwise couldn’t see. And, to respond to these observations in a way that will slowly, subtly elevate and unlock more joy and love and impact. My intention is to go slow, look ahead and act boldly as I continue along the path I have carved over the past few years.

Oddly, I landed on this intention in part by reading about wine. In particular, I came across a term that I had never heard before: élevage, the care and work put in after fermentation to bring out quality and make a wine ready to drink. This may sound like a corny or even pretentious source for a yearly intention — but I found a great deal in the idea of élevage as I reflected on it.

Growing and crushing grapes is what most often comes to mind when we think of ‘making great wine’. Of course, this process of creative destruction is at the core of wine making. A great deal of energy is applied, intensely and with intention. That intensity and intention have a huge impact on what the wine becomes. In that way, it is much like starting a new project or making big changes in your life.

There is another part of winemaking that is almost as impactful, yet often under appreciated. This is the process of élevage: looking after that wine after you have ‘made’ it and before you lock it into a bottle for ageing and drinking. It is in the process of listening to the wine as it begins to take shape, raising it up and helping it mature in slow and subtle ways. Deciding on wood or steel or clay. Topping up the barrel. Or, not. Blending. This phase is critical in shaping what the wine does or doesn’t become — and yet it can only happen in its own time, in a very slow dance of listening and acting and listening again. This is a dance that we often forget when making changes to our lives and our organizations.

It was with this reflection that I landed on the idea of ‘raising my sights’ — and elevating what is possible — as my intention for 2019. I have put a great deal of energy and intention into the last few years, and I am seeing the results in my home life, my personal life and my work life. It has been a period of creative destruction. In so many ways, I am happy with what has been created. Yet, there is still much more to strive for and explore and enjoy on this path.

Now feels like the time to at once look up and slow down. Whether in small or big ways, I am hopeful that there are great things on the path ahead. The trick will be to notice and embrace and nurture them as they appear.

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