When President John F Kennedy was trying to follow an ambitious agenda home and abroad, American playwright Clare Booth Luce, one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress, gave him this advice : “A great man is one sentence”. In other words, she was asking him: What defines you? What is your sentence? As Dank Pink writes in his book , Drive, “She feared that Kennedy’s attention was so splintered among different priorities that his sentence risked becoming a muddled paragraph.”
These words are so relevant in present day life. Most of us are trying to be and do so much. Everyone takes pride in multi-tasking. Most often we get busy with the urgent and lose sight of what’s really important to us and what we really want to achieve. We all may not wish to become famous, but we certainly want to be effective.
What Is Your Sentence?
Over the last few months, I’ve had to challenge myself about things I get busy with. I have been constantly mindful that I do things that are good in themselves, but don’t help me to move towards what I want to really achieve. I have to chose between doing what’s good and doing what’s best.
Reading Clare Booth Luce’s advice, I realized that it was a good idea to coin my own ‘sentence’ – which would encapsulate what I want to truly achieve. The process of writing that sentence was interesting and meaningful.
Ask Yourself 3 Questions
While working on finding my sentence, I came across an article by Marc Lesser that said that if you want to discover your life’s purpose, all you need to do is ask yourself these three questions:
1) What do you want?
2) What do you have to do to get it?
3) Can you pay the price?
I decided to journal these over a three day period. I tried to answer these questions as mindfully and honestly as possible. I used the brainstorming technique : no order of priority and with no analysis. I’m sharing my answers with you as I wrote them.
Day #1 What do you want?
I think that perhaps this is the most difficult question to answer. It’s a series of questions within a question. For example, it makes you think: What gives your life meaning? How do you want to spend your time? What is your passion? What gives you the most satisfaction? What do you want to accomplish?
“Wholeheartedness is like a North Star. You can never get there. But you know when you’re heading the right way.”Brene Brown, The Power of Vulnerability
- To live wholeheartedly.
- To be grateful in all circumstances.
- To be mindful of each moment and live in the present.
- To be inspired by the ordinary.
- To inspire others with my words – written and spoken, my attitude and my actions.
- To have meaningful relationships
- To accompany others as they explore and reclaim their creativity
What we really want – our deepest intention, never changes. It’s just that we sometimes lose it by crowding our lives with a lot of other things or simply not making the time to listen to our deepest selves. We really ought to discover the work each of us was born to do – our destiny.
…. I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born.Kahlil Gibran
By asking myself what I want, I realized that my deepest intention is to be a source of inspiration to others.
Day #2 What Do You Have To Do To Get It?
I asked myself whether I have the right ‘tools’ to fashion what I want. Do I have the right – attitude, aptitude, training, resources, skills? What do I need to do to improve my skills? How can I better equip myself?
I realize that I need to work on:
- my attitude – there’s always scope for improvement there.
- being disciplined
- making sure I spend a lot more time on reflection
- creating post and material
- getting healthy
- slowing down and taking things easy
This process made me think about my priorities and what really matters to me!
Day #3 Can I Pay The Price?
Question 3 is a series of decisions.
Choosing one way, most often, means giving up another. Making a choice to have something in life requires the commitment to do the work it entails. Choices also come with risks and consequences. I am becoming aware of the many things I need to do – the price I must pay – in order to get what I want.
I believe that we are solely responsible for our choices, and we have to accept the consequences of every deed, word, and thought throughout our lifetime.Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Just some of the things that come to mind that I need to be committed to:
- Spending more time on reflection
- Spending more time creating/writing rather than surfing the net/ on social media
- Getting out more – more walking/ exercise
- Reading more relevant books
- Taking more notes – jot down inspiration as it comes
- Having more meaningful conversations
- Being much more open to daily inspiration
- Getting out of my comfort zone
The secret to success is constancy to purpose.Benjamin Disraeli
Finding My Sentence
While thinking about what my sentence should be I thought back to my childhood dreams – they always involved books – I either owned a bookstore or ran a library – I would take all my books and arrange them while I imagined these scenarios.
When I shared this with friend, she said: “Interesting about the bookstore and library. It may mean also you are interested in helping people increase their knowledge, or you acquire much knowledge over your lifetime.” It so fitted in with where my thoughts on the subject had been going.
I have always been drawn to inspirational material – books, material and speakers. I love reading, enjoy writing and love encouraging people with my words.
When I thought about what I have largely been occupied with over the years – reader, speaker, teacher, trainer, coach, writer – it all came down to: WORDS.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.Rumi
Finally, after digging around for it and after a lot of questioning and reflection my sentence appeared, from under the layers.
I am an inspirational writer, a creativity trainer and coach.
There, I’ve said it. And it feels good. If you notice, I’ve used the present tense in my sentence. I’m holding fast to what I believe myself to be and claiming my calling.
Do you know what your sentence is? I recommend you give the process a try.
Do contact me if you need any assistance in finding your sentence.