My friend, Richard, just sent me this clip with Dan Pink's advice on how to transform our lives in 2010 with two simple questions: "What's your sentence?" and "Were you better today than you were yesterday?" The people I admire most can sum up their contributions to humanity in one succinct sentence stating a very specific contribution. This is also true of my favorite books, blogs, artists, writers, activists, and cause-based organizations. They all have a singular focus and purpose. Is a succinct reason for being the secret ingredient to every extraordinary life?
It's amazing that this paradigm of a single sentence describing an extraordinary life holds true no matter what great personality I consider. Thomas Jefferson penned his own epitaph with a single sentence. No copywriter, no editor. "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, of The Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia." This is the summation of his life in his terms. These are the things that mattered most to him. Nelson Mandela's book, Long Walk to Freedom, remains one of the greatest influence on my life. I could only read a few pages of his story at a time because each word is packed with such emotion and power. His unwavering confidence in and passion for his beliefs is overwhelming. Very simply, his sentence is "I am the Father of a free South Africa."
So maybe that's it. Maybe we can all get to extraordinary if we can find our sentence and manage our lives in support of it. By the end of 2010, I want to write my one sentence. I've written some blog posts about how I want to be remembered when my time has come and gone, what lasting impact I'd like to have on the world. After 364 days of living a life trying to make each day better than the day before, I think I can get it down to one brief sentence. This is the initial sentence that comes to mind, in rough long form:
"Christa was someone who created a global education system that used creativity as the backbone for all learning, gave 1 million children a second chance at a better life, and offered an entire generation the opportunity to be job creators instead of job seekers."
It needs some polish, but it's a start.
The image above is not my own. It can be found here.