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Ducks In A Row: Culture, Work, Life In Six Words

by Miki Saxon

You may be a tweeting guru, but can you sum up your life, career or tell a story in just six (real) words?

When challenged to tell a story in six words, Ernest Hemingway came up with “For sale. Baby shoes. Never worn.”

Starting in 2006, Smith Magazine challenged readers to write their memoirs in six words and the effort is still going strong. Here are three examples from the Smith site,

Ecstatic, elastic, eccentric, electric, ever-changing existence!

Dreams diverted; life proceeds. Embracing detours.

Lesser people would’ve given up already.

I wrote Birth, death, fun and happiness in-between because that’s always what I wanted and got from life—including obstacles and detours.

The great advantage six words have is to force clarity of thought upon the subject.

It’s easy to set up a place on your intranet for people to post their six-word thoughts—not once, but many times.

You can use it to explore your group and company culture, clarify projects and goals and for individual team members.

  • Invite everybody to post their six word description of the culture.
  • A biographical section gives people a place to document their growth professionally and personally along with specific struggles and triumphs.
  • Boil down the essence of each project to six words. You may be surprised at how different the descriptions are reflecting the different visions of the project team—six words helps to get everybody on the same page.
  • Provide a truly anonymous section for complaints. The six word limit forces clarity on descriptions of problems and can often give you a heads up before the molehill becomes a mountain.

Please take a moment to add your six word memoir, thought or description of Leadership Turn here!

Your comments—priceless

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Image credit: ZedBee|Zoë Power on flickr

4 Responses to “Ducks In A Row: Culture, Work, Life In Six Words”
  1. Christina BowenNo Gravatar Says:

    I love this post! As a matter of fact I’m going to be adopting the “culture in six words exercise” immediately. I promise, I’ll give credit where credit is due.

  2. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Christina, I’m glad you like it and I agree that it should be a useful facilitation tool.

    What is your six word thought?

    (I realized after finding a note I’d made that I miss-phrased mine. I meant to write, “Here today, gone tomorrow, fun in-between.” I should know better by now not to make notes on the back of envelopes that get buried on my desk:)

  3. Christina BowenNo Gravatar Says:

    Clearly I’m no Hemmingway

    Plan, pursue, achieve/fail, release, enjoy

  4. Miki SaxonNo Gravatar Says:

    Who is?

    I like that what you wrote can apply to all parts of life, although it’s business at first glance, but has many layers. Cool

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