What is your sentence?

Excerpted with the permission of the author from Chapter Five of A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger

What is your sentence?

This is a favorite question of the author Daniel Pink, though he acknowledges in his book Drive that it can be traced back to the journalist and pioneering congresswoman Clare Booth Luce.

While visiting John F. Kennedy early in his presidency, Luce expressed concern that Kennedy might be in danger of trying to do too much, thereby losing focus. She told him “a great man is a sentence”— meaning that a leader with a clear and strong purpose could be summed up in a single line (e.g., “Abraham Lincoln preserved the union and freed the slaves”).

Pink believes this concept can be useful to anyone, not just presidents.

Your sentence might be:

  • “He raised four kids who became happy, healthy adults,”
  • “She invented a device that made people’s lives easier.”

If your sentence is a goal not yet achieved, then you also must ask:

How might I live up to my own sentence?

Question from Bob:  What is your sentence?

Note from Bob:  I highly recommend Warren’s book is A More Beautiful Question 



Warren Berger


Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s leading innovators, entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems.  His writing and research on questioning and innovation have appeared in Fast Company, Harvard Business Review and Wired.   His website is AMoreBeautifulQuestion.com


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4 thoughts on “What is your sentence?

  1. Jane says:

    My sentence has been burning inside for so long now, I have become really good at ignoring the heat. My sentence is: She stopped telling herself that everything she has to write has already been written and wrote from her heart anyway.

    1. Bob Tiede says:

      Jane – I love it! Go for it!

  2. Saji says:

    Great post Bob. I love the idea that a great man is a sentence. I always say everyone needs a life sentence. It makes life and living so purposeful.

  3. Tom Rhodes says:

    What a great question.

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