What is your sentence?

Cover of "A Whole New Mind: Moving from t...Cover via Amazon

If you had to summarize "who you are" in one sentence, what would you say?  Someone introduced me to this concept used by Daniel Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive.  So I asked students to do this as an exercise and the results were interesting.  I think most people struggled with this and I found it challenging myself.  

At first, I said:  "She is light-hearted."  And my college roommate is about the only person who would understand this story.  Then I thought:  "She likes teaching, but is passionate about learning."  And I kept thinking about this task.  What is my sentence?  "She wants to make people happy."  But parts of life are not happy because life has highs and lows.  Learning to be compassionate and empathetic are important skills in navigating life.  Happiness can be shallow when we are being "real."

An exercise such as this makes us think about our purpose. 

Why do we exist? 

What is important to us? 

We can use the sentence as a mission statement to guide us as we make decisions.  As someone said to me years ago, "When someone asks you to do something, don't check your calendar–but check your goals."  For most of us, the goal is not to be busy. 

Are we spending our time in ways that really matter to us? 

What is your sentence?   

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  • Ly Baccam

    That is the one question I really hate because when ever I get an interview from a prospective employer. One of the question the interviewer will absolutely will ask “who is ly”. After 30 minutes of smooth talking during my interview, this question pops up, and I’m like a lost child in a big store.

  • Brock Caves

    This is a very challenging question, and hard to answer without thinking about the pros and cons to your statement. I think a lot of people struggle talking about themselves for some reason. Thus it makes it difficult to have a mission statement about ourselves. But we should all be able to create a mission statement, because no one knows ourselves like we do.

  • Chrys Bregar

    It is a hard question. It should be because it is asking you to describe an unique individual in maybe two lines of text. It’s an important question, though, because everyone needs to think about who they are and what they are willing to do. Very bad things can happen without that moral compass. I remember an article I read that mentioned how very few people set out to steal from their boss, cheat on their spouse, or anything like that. They are just presented with an opportunity and they don’t have a compass to point them in the right direction.

  • Linda Smith

    My sentence is “I’m Linda and I want to keep learning and finding ways to think and be creative.”

  • Kara Stadtlander

    When you asked us to write our personal mission statement, I thought, oh that should not be too hard. As I started to write it, I found it was a lot more difficult then I thought. In reality, it is very importatnt to have a mission statement. It guides you through your life with your purpose, goals, and values stated all in a couple sentences. This type of question comes up in interviews all the time. What value would you bring to the company? What are your goals? What do you value the most in life? Questions like that are sometimes the hardest to answer, but if you have taken the time to think about those type of questions and written them down in a personal mission statement, the answer should speak for themselves.

  • Kathryn Bruxvoort

    This was one of the more challenging and rewarding assignments I have had in college. It didn’t seem very difficult or time consuming at first. However this was deceptive it called for a lot of self reflection which required quite a bit of time and effort. While many assignments we are given call for critical thinking very few require this kind of thinking to be applied to ourselves and our own lives. Knowing our sentence, or in some cases sentences, can give us a better understanding of ourselves and our goals which can allow us to be more successful in our personal and professional lives.

  • Allison McGrew

    I agree that this is a challenging question, but completing this kind of exercise forces you to reach a new understanding of yourself. Many times, the questions that employers ask you about yourself are the ones that are the most difficult, while your perception is that talking about yourself is easy. However, if we are grounded in our values, then expressing ourselves in this way becomes easier and allows us to be guided in our answer.

  • Anthony Miller

    Talking about yourself is something that comes easy to some people and others hate. Some people think when you talk about yourself makes you conceitied. While in some cases it is true it is important to take time and think about what you do well and what your life is about. We all need to know what it is we want with our lives and how we plan to get there. I think this question is challenging for a reason. It requires us to stop and take time to think about what it is we really want with our lives.

  • Kiley Meyers

    This topic is crucial to think about because too often people don’t take the time stop and think what is important to them or what really matters to them. My Volleyball team talks a lot about not just going through the motions in practice, but actually giving 100% in everything you do. This is an important life lesson. More people need to take charge of their life and live to the fullest. A personal mission statement or a sentence to live by can help a person do that. The quote about not checking you calendar, but you goals when someone asks you to do something is interesting. Many people could benefit from taking this prespective on life.

  • Alyssa Vande Voort

    Along with a few of the above comments, I completely agree that writing a mission statement or once sentence to describes ourselves, is a difficult task. Although no one knows us as well as we know ourselves, it is hard to sum up yourself in a few sentences. However, I think if you truly sit down and think about what your purpose is, your mission is bound to come to you. I don’t think the mission statement is meant for us to sound conceited, but rather it helps guide us for our future actions and decisions.

  • Drew Osier

    I have trouble with this one mostly because I do not like to talk about myself very much. I was always taught to be humble and now when interviewing for jobs and just I have to sell myself to them and give them traits about myself that I do not really like to say. I know that talking about yourself isn’t boastful but I just feel uncomfortable with it. This is something that ill have to work on heavily in the future.

  • Chris Lehmann

    A difficult question to answer for sure. I think that if I HAD to answer the question it would read, “Chris is outgoing, caring, respectful, and a enjoyable guy to hang out with.” I know that this is how I view myself and not necessarily how others view me. Being able to continually build on these is important to me. I want not just myself to say this, but others who have ever had an encounter with me.

  • Brandon Wagner

    I agree with Drew. This is probably one of the hardest questions to answer not only because you are taught to be humble your whole life but because what if your sentence isn’t phrased how you want it or a second later you think of another sentence which may describe you better. for this reason I think my sentence would be” searching for and trying to be the best”.

  • James Chapline

    My sentence would have to do with my faith and the friendships and relationships that I have. My relationships are the most important thing to me and developing those and making new relationships is what I’m all about.

  • Amber Voss

    i think of this as being a mission statement =] I do not think that I would be able to condense who I am in one sentence. I think that if I had to write one sentence about myself it would be the longest, most complex and detailed sentence ever. But for now it will remain blank and i will leave it up to others to write and formulate based on the experiences and relationships that they have had the opportunity to encounter/create with me.