I love to play with tight language, which is why Haiku has always been my favorite poetic form (17 syllables and rigid rules, yet infinite possibilities). I also love the brutal simplicity of six-word essays, a format over which I obsessed in high school (see for more)

Since January I have attended 28 classes in my global Health Coach training program, and through those classes met doctors and practitioners from all over the world who addressed dozens of disease and treatment topics. It’s impossible to hold it all — my head has exploded several times from taking in so much information.

Which is why I was doing self-therapy with six-word essays a few weeks ago and realized I could summarize reams of notes, hours of classroom discussion, and infinite internet resources into just six words that powerfully remind us how to prevent, treat, or mitigate just about any human malady: eat less, move more, sleep well.

Eat Less, Move More, Sleep Well

I recently watched a TV show where bored family members in a hospital waiting room played a game: Name a food that is NOT made better by the addition of either cheese or chocolate. It’s a long, hard game, because either or both of those ingredients can arguably improve the flavor or texture of just about anything (maybe not the health of, but we’re talkin’ chocolate here!)

I digress.

My point is that I defy you to name a physical or emotional human condition that is NOT made better by improving nutrition, moving the body, getting quality sleep, or any combination of two or all three of those. The answer is a null set.

It’s both incredibly simple and incredibly difficult. (Which is why coaching helps, but I’m not lecturing here, just reminding you that you already have access to these tools, even if you don’t use them.)

Seduced by the reductionism of the six-word medium, I offer other musings on the human condition:.

On Happiness:

Stand Tall, Breathe Deeply, Smile Often. Those who’ve seen me speak on stage know this summary of my one-hour talk on Happiness. Do these three things and you will activate your body in new ways that can literally change your world.

You Become The Stories You Tell. Yes, expectations become reality. If your stories are of a terrible world filled with suffering and bad things, guess what you’ll see around you every day? You can CHOOSE to create positive assessments about possibility and gratitude for what you have. P.S. be careful of listening too much to others’ toxic stories, too, because contagious…

Cure Anxiety: Ask, “What is true?” Anxiety is when you are not sure what’s coming, so you fill in the holes with catastrophic scenarios. Data is a powerful treatment for anxiety. What’s real, what’s true, what are the facts? And be careful that you do not mistake your stories for Truth.

On Leadership:

Talk Less, Listen More, Be Clear. If someone asks how to become a better leader, this captures it all. Yes, we all know you’re smart, but that’s not your job anymore. Your job is to develop your team, and if you’ve done a decent job of hiring, the people in your downstream are way smarter than you. As General Stanley McChrystal tells it in his TED talk, a leader’s job is to say, “Our job is to take that hill. Go figure out how.” Once you’ve created clarity of vision/mission, then sit back and listen.

Say Thanks, Correct With Courage, Care. The question I get asked all the time is, “How do we create a culture of Accountability?” The answer is that you need to have two types of conversations regularly – make requests for what needs to be done, then close the accountability loop by either accepting the work or offering feedback where things did not turn out as well. And if you don’t care, don’t bother; people will see right thru you and disengage.

On Life:

Open heart, strong core, deep roots. You want to feel more confident and powerful? Put on a confident body – ground your feet, use your full spine, and let your shoulders fall back while you raise your chin. Make eye contact. You. Are. Powerful.

Dance With Everything That Shows Up. The art and practice of Yes, And or Both/And will serve you well in a world that constantly shifts. You can sit by the wall and be stiff and uncomfortable and say, “I’m never doing THAT!” or you can step onto the floor and experiment. The music’s gonna keep playing whether you dance or not, sweet pea!

Dark Beer, Dark Coffee, Dark Chocolate. I worship the Forces of Darkness and yes, I confess these are indulgences. But if you can’t have fun in life, why bother? What are your self-confessed secret pleasures, and do you know how to find that lovely juicy space of moderation? Hint: it’s in the self-care aisle nestled between denial and addiction.

If you enjoyed this exploration of six-word essays, I invite you to try your own hand at it. Because Creative Energy feels great!

I close with a six-word summary I’ve used for 30 years:

Remember, Leadership is not about a title. Anyone can be a Leader who strives to simplify the complex and connect people to what (really) matters.