By Kevin Meyer
A few months ago I wrote how Twitter and haiku can help us create focus and clarity of mission. Condensing our values, desires, and beliefs into 140 characters or seventeen syllables forces an examination of anything potentially superfluous to peel back the onion to define the core.
I'm not a big fan of Peggy Noonan, but today she wrote an interesting column on Obama and how he may be trying to do too much. I'll intentionally avoid most of the political aspects.
especially the economy, which all the polls mentioned. But I think at
bottom his problems come down to this: The Sentence. And the rough
sense people have that he's not seeing to it.
The Sentence comes from a story Clare Boothe Luce told about a
conversation she had in 1962 in the White House with her old friend
John F. Kennedy. 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."
Forget 5 Sentences, try one sentence. That's really boiling it down. Of course that's looking back, and creating a focus on "one sentence" moving forward is an even more difficult exercise.
and yet too small, too off point, too base-pleading, too ideological,
too unaware of the imperatives. And there is the depressing
psychological effect of seeing government grow so much, so big, so
fast. This encourages a sense that things are out of control and cannot
be made better.
The same could be said for most bureaucracies, especially those in growth mode, whether government or private or charitable. The Man on a Mission blog, dormant for nearly two years, still has many examples of mission statements… and almost all of them are several paragraphs long.
Once again, could you condense your raison d'être into 140 characters… or 17 syllables… or one lonely sentence? I bet the effort, even if initially unsuccessful, would tell you something.