What’s Your Sentence?

What are you? And when I ask about you, I’m mean you as a person, a team, or an organization. At the core, what are you? If you can’t answer that in 60 seconds or less, you won’t be successful.

Claire Boothe Luce once said, “A great man is a sentence.” In other words, if you can’t summarize who you are and what you do in one sentence, you won’t be “great.”

Businesses are the same. I wonder what would happen if you asked Steve Balmer and Steve Jobs the question, “What does your company do?” Who would have the shortest answer? I’d love the opportunity to do that, but until I do I’d bet that Jobs would have the shortest, most-focused answer.

I’ve experienced, and I’ve even contributed to (unfortunately) making organizations overly-complex. The simpler the organization, the more focused it is, the more clear the vision and direction is, the more likely it is of success. The same is true of people.

A while ago I asked a man what he did. After about fifteen minutes I asked again. After about ten minutes I asked again. And after about five minutes I asked again. It was at this point that he got totally frustrated with me and must have thought I was an idiot. But each time I asked him what he did, he became more clear on what it is that he does. But he never did quite get to what he should be doing, and that’s why, in my opinion, he will never fully realize his potential. To date, he’s proven me right.

What are you, and what do you do? Now, if you’re a doctor, simply saying, “I’m a doctor” is not good enough. What makes you different from other doctors? Who are you, and what is it about you that makes you what you are? Can you answer that question in one sentence? Your answer should be short, to the point, and simple.

What does your business do? Can you answer that in one sentence? Often, this is referred to as the “elevator pitch,” because it can be stated in the time it takes to ride a few floors in an elevator.

I’m a performance coach, and I love to help individuals, teams and organizations perform better.

I’ve really enjoyed writing this post because it’s made me re-focus on what I do best, what I’m passionate about, and what I can be most successful at. Sure, I can do many other things, but they’re not who I am – they’re not part of my “one sentence.”

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