What is Your Sentence?

What is Your Sentence?

There’s a story that author Dan Pink tells in his book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. He recounts how Congresswoman Clare Booth Luce once told President John F. Kennedy that “a great [person] is a sentence.” In other words, stop trying to take on everything and instead focus on making a single-pointed and significant difference in the world.

Pink believes this concept can be useful to anyone, not just presidents or world leaders. For instance, your sentence might be, “She invented a device that made people’s lives healthier,” or “She raised two kids as a single mom who became happy, healthy adults.”

In his book, Pink discusses what leaders, managers, teachers, and parents know well: Using carrots and sticks as motivators can work to an extent, but truly motivating someone requires something more. He highlights that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the three key elements of deeper motivation.

This question of “what’s your sentence?” can be taken a step farther and asked for and about a company, too.  

Here’s my sentence for my consultancy work: “There’s nothing more powerful than a united group of souls ignited in a common cause with love at the core.” It speaks to what I do in my business and for the client-partners I serve. It’s my why. It’s my mantra, my purpose, promise, and vision for those who work with me. 

Perhaps hidden in the edges of our peripheral, we all have our own sentence that encapsulates the work that we do and the life we’re living.

Your sentence can be but doesn’t have to be a life-long thing. We can shape a sentence that sets the theme for a single year.

One of the free tools that I give away to people is a year-end reflection toolkit. The short workbook is filled with practices that are based on two decades of year-end rituals and workshops that I’ve led. It’s a booklet that invites you to reflect on your past year, your accomplishments and challenges, and to look to the horizon of next year. I promise you, it’s a self-rewarding investment of your time.

By embarking on this year-end reflection practice you can close the chapter on the roller-coaster that was 2020. And, you can artfully craft your looking-ahead sentence, and more, for 2021. The outcomes will provide insight and clarity on what you intend to do, to create, to experience in the year to come.

Here’s the Year End Practice link. It’s yours for free.

“The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? 


That you are here—that life exists, and identity; 
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.” 

― Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

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