As a self-described “creative person” I find inspiration in the most random things. My brain is able to take a component from one part of my life and link it to another (completely unrelated) area. For example, while in a leadership class in grad school, my mind began to wander and suddenly I had brainstormed leadership lessons that I had learned through musicals. This was then turned into a very fun, very energetic presentation at a women’s leadership conference. Welcome to my world—to me, anything can inspire my next staff development or lead me to brainstorm a campaign for RA recruitment.
This is one of the reasons that I respect this blog so much. It provides great food for thought for professionals and reminds me to reflect and make meaning of my experiences. I, like many others in this community, have brainstormed a one word resolution for 2012. I love that it’s an easy, yet thought-provoking exercise that challenges us to focus on what we want to do. As I pondered what my word would be, I also wondered if there was a way to take this reflective exercise further.
And then—because inspiration strikes at the most random of moments—it came to me through Oprah. Or rather, her magazine, O. In the February 2012 issue, readers submitted six word stories or memoirs to describe their lives. The six-word memoir creativity exercise is wonderful because even if someone doesn’t consider herself to be a writer, she can string together six words and come up with a powerful statement. The most famous of the six-word stories is Ernest Hemmingway’s haunting passage: “For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.”
The article got me thinking—if we could write six word memoirs that describe our lives, couldn’t we do the same thing with our work and/or life philosophies? Why should the six words be confined to something as expansive as one’s life? Why not pen a six word philosophy? Why not write six succinct words that can guide your work? If you could write six works, no more, no less, about your work philosophy what would they be? You could challenge yourself to write a six word story about your life as well—what would that look like?
Personally, I discovered that my life story and work philosophy could be one and the same with this simple sentence: “Finds the good and laughs loudly.” This, I think, sums me and my work up nicely, though I will admit that it took some reflection and a few drafts for me to feel satisfied with this succinct sentence. Coming up with your philosophy or memoir may not be the easiest reflective exercise, but it could lead to some good things. So, what will your six words be?
Krissy Peterson is a residence director at the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.