Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and then just. cannot. get. back. to. sleep? And 90% of the reason you can’t get back to sleep is because you’re worried about being awake in the first place?
Ugh. It’s the worst. At least, it was, until I gave it a name. (Or rather, we, gave it a name, since I need to credit my husband, Tom, for the actual naming of the thing.)
See, it all started back when Tom and I got to talking about that dreaded middle-of-the-night waking. But it turns out, it’s perfectly normal, as I discovered a number of years ago in the midst of #swipefile research. In fact, for centuries, people referred to the “second sleep” that came after that middle-of-the-night waking. It was, as the article I read noted, “common knowledge.”
That alone did a lot to settle my hypnagogic worry. (“Hypnagogic” is my ALL-TIME FAVORITE WORD, by the way, for the next time you’re playing Tamsen Trivia.) “Oh!,” I told myself, “It’s not weird or wrong for me to be awake right now!”
But that also sent me on a quest: what did those centuries-ago people actually call the period of time when people were awake? “Second Sleep” was all well and good, but the middle-of-the-night waking was apparently SUCH common knowledge to Chaucer and his buddies that no one ever thought to give it a name. It’s kind of like how the color word “blue” didn’t exist in ancient languages because the sky just…was.
As humans, we don’t tend to name things until we need a name for them, apparently.
So since I needed a name for this, Tom and I decided to find one. We tossed around a few duds: the Betweening. The AntiNap. Roger.
We thought we were close with “sleep window,” but that didn’t feel like enough of A Thing. So we got fancy, and pretended we were French. Eventually, with apologies to French etymologists, we landed on a combination of the French words for “sleep” (dormir) and “waking” (veille).
Et voilà! A Dorveille. (Pronounced dohr-VAY.)
And just like that, instead of tossing and turning and waiting (and waiting and waiting) for the Second Sleep to come, we could wake up and go, “Oh! It’s just a Dorveille,” stress less about it, and then get back to sleep faster.
When we looked into it further, it turns out dorveille does exist as a word–in fact, it’s a synonym for hypnagogic. But we think our new, second definition is even better–if nothing else, it solved a problem, and isn’t that what it’s all about?
See, a name provides a frame — a frame of reference. It helps define what you see and how you see it. That’s important when you’re trying to differentiate what you do, or what your big idea is. It’s critical when what you do is seen as a commodity (e.g., building and construction) or when your work is a often a synthesis of others’ (e.g., leadership coach), and thus has to somehow be different from things other people have already differentiated.
But remember that “things,” or concepts, or phenomena, or ideas, often exist before the name (just like the color of the sky existed long before we had a word to describe it).
And yet, once you name a thing, you give it form and function. You make it real. You make it recognizable. And if it’s recognizable, then it’s just that much closer to being remarkable. And repeatable.
Quite simply, if you name it, you can claim it.
And there are all sorts of things you can name! I’ve worked with clients to name the “real” problems they solve: The Happiness Gap (client), The Orange Pie Problem (client), the Lost Voice Effect (client). You can name your central idea or Truth, a la Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point or Seth Godin’s The Dip (neither a client… yet!). You can also name your Change or solution: the Golden Circle (not-client Simon Sinek), Engagement Equation (client), the Red Thread® (me!). You can also name your tools, your worksheets and exercises, and your processes.
I mean, which sounds more interesting to you: a leadership coach who describes her engagements through the lens of meetings and calls… or the one that leads with her Curiosity First approach and how the meetings and calls support that? (Yep, client.)
The magic really starts to happen when your clients and audiences start using your word for their problem or the solution they now want (“We’ve got to stop trying to close the Happiness Gap and use the Engagement Equation instead!”). Imagine what happens when your competitors come in and get asked about either of those things, and they just say, “Uh, we do engagement workshops, is that what you mean?”
Frame it. Name it. Claim It. It’s the fastest path to helping people understand your ideas and adopt them as their own.
Not to mention, now you have something to think about during your next Dorveille!As humans, we don't tend to name things until we need a name for them, apparently. Click To Tweet
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