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What is Your Team Story?
The legend goes something like this…
While lunching with friends, Hemingway (known for his economical writing style) accepted a bet from his friends that he couldn’t craft an entire story using only six words.
Later, Hemingway scribbled his six words out and then confidently stated it was the best story he had ever written.
“For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
Hemingway’s six words compel the reader to invent the background of rich characters and a complex, if not tragic, story line. True to form, there is a beginning, a middle and an end—a potentially disturbing end at that.
The words he chose were simple. The situation he describes is universally touching.
But it has been suggested that Hemingway may not have truly written them.
The infamous six words can only be traced back as having first appeared somewhere in the early 1990s, and while literary scholars agree that the words have the feel and sound of Hemingway’s signature style, nobody is completely sure now that the Hemingway legend is actually 100% true…
If you visit Snopes.com, the Urban Legends Reference Page, you can read about this Hemingway rumor being an undetermined claim.
The same Snopes.com entry, though, offers an advertisement that appeared in a Tucson newspaper in 1945 as a possible source of verification.
Regardless of the historical accuracy of the ―six word story legend, there is a valuable and useful opportunity for us as leaders of teams to use a similar exercise to boil down the ―Story‖ our team intends to tell.
This is a terrific activity to be used early in your time together to establish a simple and powerful summary of your team’s purpose and goals.
The six word story exercise is now being used in many writing programs across the country, and it has recently prompted number of authors to compose their own.
Here are some nice examples:
―Found true love. Married someone else. –Dave Eggers
―Revenge is living well without you. -Joyce Carol Oates
―Ghost story on radio… without batteries -Anonymous
―Bob’s Last Words: Bermuda Triangle, baloney. –Elmore Leonard, Djibouti
So what is your team’s six word story?
Take a few minutes at your next meeting and use this idea to condense your people’s perceptions and ideas into something impressive and concise.
Brevity is not only the soul of wit – it is also a motivational poster waiting to happen!