What’s Your Six Word Story?
If you ever studied English literature, it’s almost certain that you’ve heard of a Six Word Story. You may have even written one. According to legend, Ernest Hemingway popularized the six-word story while at lunch with a table full of fellow writers. He bet them all $10 that he could create a meaningful short story in just six words. Hemingway later claimed that it was the best thing he’d ever written: “For sale. Baby shoes, never worn.”
When I first heard this story, I was stunned by how much meaning only six little words could convey. That got me thinking about what my six-word story would be. I came up with one that captured my personal life well and with meaning, but then I started to wonder if I could do the same for my professional life.
Everyone tells you to have an elevator pitch ready, but this concept goes deeper than that. It expands from what you can offer as an employee to who you are as both a person and a professional. Why did you choose this career path? What motivates you to come to work in the morning? Where do you want to be in ten years? What makes up your professional ethos or your code of ethics?
The six-word story can be an incredibly useful tool for finding your personal brand in your career field. It takes off all the pressure of creating a perfectly precise but not too long but still adequately detailed but also somehow still engaging elevator pitch and it distils you down to what you are at your core. Think of it as your personal mission statement. It should be simple and meaningful and it should easily convey who you are and what you stand for.
Here are some examples of some very successful people and their six-word stories:
- Chris Sacca (Entrepreneur, venture capitalist, Shark Tank investor): “Good stories always beat good spreadsheets.”
- Suze Orman (personal finance guru): “People first, then money, then things.”
- Shonda Rhimes (TV writer and producer, sponsor of Thursday nights): “Be a doer, not a dreamer.”
- George Takei (actor, director, LGBTQ activist): “Share your story, change the world.”
These are just a few examples of great meaningful six word stories that successful people have used to guide them through their personal and professional lives. If you can come up with six words that explain who you are at your core, you may surprise yourself and find others looking at you differently too. Knowing who you are and what you stand for is just as vital in the business world as your sales numbers or your tech certifications.
So, what would your six-word story be?
“Hope to make my parents proud”
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