About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

21 October 2009

Six-Word Memoirs

There's a literary legend that the great American writer Ernest Hemingway was once challenged in a bar to write a story in six words. He wrote:
"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."
A couple of years ago, Smith, an online magazine dedicated to personal storytelling, picked up on the Hemingway legend and started a contest in which people - celebrities and just plain folk - wrote and submitted six-word stories of their own - as memoirs. The magazine received over 15,000 stories and selected a few hundred to publish in a book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. Among those published are:
"Longed for him. Got him. Shit." - Margaret Atwood

"Well, I thought it was funny." - Stephen Colbert

"Liars: hysterectomy didn't improve sex life." - Joan Rivers

"After Harvard, had baby with crackhead." - Robin Templeton

"Seventy years, few tears, hairy ears." -
Bill Querengesser

"Found true love. Married someone else." - Anonymous
  • Do you think it's possible to sum up your life in just six words?
  • Are there some possible statements, questions, or ideas that speak to who you are?
  • Can you think of a single poignant moment, for example?
  • Is there a song - or movie, poem, book, story, speech, quote - that is particularly meaningful?
  • Can you recall a time when you were at a crucial juncture in your life, and the decision you made then? How might your life have turned out, if you'd made a different choice?
  • What is your six-word memoir?
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." - Albert Einstein
"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers." - M. Scott Peck
“Only barbarians are not curious about where they come from, how they came to be where they are, where they appear to be going, whether they wish to go there, and if so, why, and if not, why not.” - Isaiah Berlin - The Crooked Timber of Humanity
"I didn’t have a 'mission statement' at Burger King. I had a dream. Very simple. It was something like, 'Burger King is 250,000 people, every one of whom gives a shit.' Every one. Accounting. Systems. Not just the drive through. Everyone is 'in the brand.' That’s what we’re talking about, nothing less." - Barry Gibbons, former CEO

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