Proverbs Punch Above Their Weight

The Most Common Words in English Proverbs

A great story can be incredibly short. Just one sentence can say it all.
James Geary in his great book about metaphors, I Is An Other says the proverb, and its close relation the aphorism, are the world’s oldest written art forms. In 3500 BC, proverb collections were used as textbooks.  Sumerian students copied out proverbs as school spelling assignments and exercises in moral education.
Proverbs are quite simply metaphors, with layers of depth. They are the most compressed form of story, and are common to countries and cultures across the world. They are universal and good ones are understood by everyone and make people stop and think.
The funny thing is we use them frequently without stopping to think about it. I often say it’s great to ‘kill two birds with one stone.’
Many proverbs actually boil down to the same key principles.
Geary gives several examples such as the Dutch with Fill The Well After the Calf Has Drowned, for Shut the Barn Door After the Horse Has Bolted.
If you want to make a clear point, have jour communication land powerfully with others, especially if it is a complex message, Google a Proverb.

Bring Back the Verb

I just kicked myself. I have been scratching my head, banging my head against the wall, wracking my brains for what is missing in communication today.

And then Pow! I was reading Simon Sinek’s wonderful book Start With Why and it dawned on me: Story is all about The Verb.  
So much communication we deliver and receive today is not about ‘doing’ anything. And of course verbs are totally about ‘doing.’  So when we see a great film, read a great book, see a great speaker, devour a great clip on You Tube, it is all about the ‘doing.’ There are verbs galor in the content.
Sinek gives the great example of what can only be described as ‘dumb’ values statements, you know the ones that go: We stand for Integrity, Honesty and Innovation.  Well there is no doing going on in those three words.
He says Integrity could be Doing the Right Thing, and Innovation could be Thinking About Things From a Different Angle. Then there is something for people TO DO.  People doing things are at the heart of every great story.
And if we need scientific evidence, as many do, the researchers using MRI scan technology to look at what happens in the brain when people consumer stories, the area that lights up when people are deeply engaged in a story is the same area that governs our motor skills, kicking, jumping,  walking etc
 (doing things)
It strikes me that what is missing in many organisations today is a connection between the strategic thinkers and the people who do ‘stuff.’
The connection is grounding our language in action, and taking the actions accordingly.
Business and community leaders struggle endlessly with execution, strategies and ideas die in the ditch because they are often far to short on actions, and verbs to carry them out.
So now I will HIT  send, BOIL the kettle, DRINK a cup of tea, and WRITE more content for my clients!

BTW, aren’t the