I am sure homework didn’t used to be this hard. I have to describe my message in 3 phrases of no more than 15 words. The phrases should be comprehensive (cover everything I want to say) and mutually exclusive (no overlap in meaning).

Sounds simple, but very difficult. You try it and let me know how you get on.

Meanwhile, I’d appreciate a vote. I’ve got 5 contenders for the 3 slots. Which 3 do you think are strongest? Do they overlap? Do you think there is something entirely different I should have said and haven’t?

Feedback or your own 3 messages welcomed. Please post them as comments – don’t email them to me personally, as I’d love to open this up for discussion.

Here are our 5 contenders:

1. Courage is having such a big reason WHY that it overcomes your fears.

2. You can achieve almost anything, if you take it one oarstroke at a time.

3. Ask big questions and seek big answers – of yourself, of your leaders, of life.

4. Happiness is not what you own, or even what you achieve, but what you are.

5. The stories you tell yourself about what is possible will define – or confine – you.

Votes, please!

My scribblings


  • 1, 4 and 5. Number two is trite (sorry) and too often wrong. Number three overlooks the need to ask the small questions which is where the potholes are. Number 1 is almost always true even with little things such as doing something simple but unpleasant. Number 4 is so intensely personal as to be unarguable. Number 5 is really an extension of number 1.

  • I always liked what you had to say about personal comfort zones. This cut-and-paste is longer than 15 words but could be reduced:

    “Getting outside your comfort zone is, by definition, extremely uncomfortable. I believe that if you don’t keep pushing the boundaries, your comfort
    zone will become smaller and smaller until you’re effectively
    shrink-wrapped; you can’t achieve anything, you can’t grow. So I keep on
    pushing, keep on developing, adapting, and showing what an ordinary
    person can do when they put their heart, mind, and soul into it.”

    Good Luck.

    • Thank you for reminding me of that one, Brent. I’ll see if I can boil it down to fewer words and then figure out how it elated to the other options. I’m trying to avoid overlap.

    • I’ve got it down to 16 words so far…. You can’t grow unless you get outside your comfort zone. And that, by definition, is uncomfortable.

      Roz Savage
      Ocean Rower and Sustainability Advocate
      Four World Records, including First Woman to Solo Row Three Oceans: Atlantic, Pacific, Indian National Geographic Adventurer of the Year 2010
      Yale World Fellow 2012


  • Not so tough of a puzzle… As long as I am in the boundaries of the rules?

    1) I’ve never bested the winds of a storm, but yet with courage, I’ve rowed through .
    courage tenacity habits control perseverance, adaptation, faith

    2) Really great people can make you feel that you, too, can become great. ~Mark Twain
    achievement, inspiration, emotion, culmination, resonance,

    3) Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. ~Barrie
    happiness, resonance,reflection, vision, goal oriented

    Row Roz Row!


    • Sadly I don’t think I’m allowed to borrow words from others, but these last two are great quotes and will be kept for future reference. And of course the first one is great too – is that a quote by Roz via Jay?!

  • I like Ask big questions, but would end it with “everywhere and always.” But then again, life is too precious for just one slogan, interesting exercise.

    • Sorry if I didn’t make it clear – I’m allowed 3, but they should be mutually exclusive, and between them encompass everything I want to say. Simple as that. Eek!
      Good suggestion about “everywhere and always” – thank you!

  • I also like 1, 4, and 5 but would change the end of 1 “…that it makes you act regardless of your fears.”

  • I’ve had some responses by email as well. So far EVERYBODY likes 5. After that it gets more controversial! Will report back on final scores on the doors in due course.

  • Roz, I’ve been “off network” a bit this weekend, but pondering a bit today. I like #3, #1 and #4, assembled in that order as a complementary suite, which taken together convey what I believe is your overarching message — or perhaps I am projecting my own personal message. If the latter is the case, please excuse me because I have also altered the text, building on Laurie’s suggestion as well as my own touch:

    3′ – Challenge your community and leaders to critique status quo and collaborate on just, holistic alternatives.

    1′ – Your courage will grow when passion compels you to act in spite of your fears.

    4′ – Find happiness not from personal gain or achievement, but from service and inspiration to others.

    From Asheville, MN, en route to Sudbury, ON.

  • Out of the choices listed above, I like sentences 1,4 and 5. However, I really like the quote about getting out of your comfort zone.

    • Hi Ginny – I take your feedback seriously, so I appreciate this. I am keeping a tally of all views, and will add up the scores on the doors at the end!

  • My vote is for 1, 3, and 5. Takes courage to do something that you have never done before to achieve something that has eluded you until now. Courage is the bedrock upon which a future can be built.
    3. The big questions and big answers set a vision. Details can always be worked out later. And 5, your thoughts willl define your actions.
    2 is plebian, and 4, well? are we searching for success or happiness?

  • Roz, I think you should build with either 2 or 5. I would omit “oar” from 2 …it breaks the cadence. You could say “step or stroke” at a time.

    Here’s a small twist on 5: What you believe about what is possible with define – or confine – who you are.

    Somehow that makes me think of you. xo e.

  • I typo’d…sorry…WILL define:

    Here’s a small twist on 5: What you believe about what is possible will define – or confine – who you are.

  • I’ve talled up the scores. It’s too close to call, so while I really appreciate the input, I think it’s still down to me! Thank you all so much for the feedback.

    Here’s how it went:

    1. 7 votes
    2. 5 votes
    3. 6 votes
    4. 5 votes
    5. 7 votes

    Plus some other suggestions.

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