Who did you vote for?

How much do you weigh? How old are you? How much money do you make? In the election a few weeks ago, who did you vote for?

If we were having a conversation and I asked you these questions, would you answer me? Are these questions not the worst questions you can ask someone?

However, look closely at the last question I asked. Who did you vote “for?” In today’s world, we do not hear much about what people are “for.” Instead, we hear and see what people are against. Bumper stickers, yard signs, flags, social media posts all advertise what people are opposed to. What are you “for?”

At the beginning of Jeff Henderson’s new book “Know What You’re For” he asks, “What do you want to be known for?” He also asks, “What are you known for?” If our answers to these questions are not similar, then there is a gap in our life. There is also potential conflict within us. How do we even know what we are “for”? How do we know what others think we are “for”?

We show people what we are for by our actions and words. What if we were to become intentional about what we are “for?” Isn’t that what we do when we use hashtag statements? A hashtag statement begins with a pound sign (#) and includes multiple words without space separators. Hashtag statements could share something without stating the obvious and possibly include some dry humor.

For example, you might share a picture of your reluctant family member showing off a beautiful homemade meal. Included with the image is the statement: #thispickyeaterdoesntappreciategoodfood. Or you could use a hashtag statement to share your allegiance to something, like your favorite sports team: #goillini.

These statements are searchable by web surfers who want to find others with similar interests. Organizations also search for these to reshare their customer’s testimonials.

Henderson encourages us to create a hashtag statement for ourselves. This creation defines what we want to be known “for.” It is an intentional and purposeful decision. For me, this exercise has helped keep me focused on my life mission and avoid distractions. It has helped me make decisions.

My hashtag statement came to life when I traveled to Sweden, the Bahamas and throughout the United States. I realized that I am #ForOurHome.

When I was visiting my brother in Sweden, I attended a church where I met other Americans who have chosen Sweden to be their home. I heard about all of the great things in this country that they chose. I was able to live in the culture for two weeks.

I experienced the beauty, the weather and the people. I found that the people are quiet and to themselves. They do not like to make eye contact and create conversations with strangers. While taking a walk, neighbors would pass me without looking me in the eye. That is very foreign from who I am. I like to smile, look people in the eyes and greet them. While walking on the road that led to my brother’s house, the passengers in cars that passed me did not smile and wave. It was alarming for me because Iowans wave at everyone.

This is when I was reminded that I love my country. I am “for” the United States of America. I love who we are. Is everything perfect? No, of course not. But I have chosen to live here just like my brother has chosen to live in Sweden. I am #ForOurHome.

When I consider my hashtag statement, #ForOurHome starts broadly with the country I choose to live in then narrows to the Midwest. Here is where I have lived my entire life. I appreciate the green grass in the spring and summer and the vibrant colors in the fall. I even enjoy how the snow reveals nature’s secrets in the winter.

Narrowing my focus to my state of Iowa, I smile when I think about our breathtaking sunsets and the variety of landscaping — from the flat farmland to the bluffs along the Mississippi River. I love the people of Iowa, too, because they smile and wave to me.

I am “for” my community, the city of Dubuque, the surrounding “suburbs,” my neighborhood. I am “for” my house, where we fill a large dining room table with family and friends. Where delicious meals are enjoyed, conversations are shared, memories are made. I am #ForOurHome.

What do you want to be known “for?” I challenge you to take this exercise to heart. Find a notebook and a pen. Write out your answers to these two questions:

What do you want to be known “for?”

What are you known “for?”

Begin the process of creating who you want to be. Create a simple hashtag statement so you can share it everywhere.

We can take this one step further and consider what we want our business or teams to be known “for.” Can you imagine all of your employees, co-workers and customers sharing your hashtag statement because they believe in your business? What would that do for the success of your organization’s mission? Be intentional as we welcome in 2022.