Do You Have a Sentence?

In a Wall Street Journal (6/27/09) article, Peggy Noonan retold the story of Clare Boothe Luce’s conversation with JFK in 1962

She told him, she said, that “a great man is one sentence.” His leadership can be so well summed up in a single sentence that you don’t have to hear his name to know who’s being talked about. “He preserved the union and freed the slaves,” or, “He lifted us out of a great depression and helped to win a World War.” You didn’t have to be told “Lincoln” or “FDR.”

She wondered what Kennedy’s sentence would be. She was telling him to concentrate, to know the great themes and demands of his time and focus on them.

Why is the Sentence such a compelling idea?

The truth lies in the concept that we as people are not designed to do many things very well. Focus is central to greatness.

Give people one to three projects in a quarter that sit outside the day-to-day whirlwind of the business and they are likely to get them done, give people four or five projects and they’re likely to only get one or two done, and give people seven projects and they aren’t likely to get any completed.

Do you have a Sentence?

Take ten minutes and write your Sentence for the next ninety days. One that focuses your work and life on those one or two themes with greatest importance. Then get out there and make it happen!