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Writing Principles for Life #2 – What’s Your Thesis?

January 16, 2014

Last week I began a series titled “Writing Principles for Life.” The second principle that applies to both writing and life is asking and answering the question, “What is your thesis?”

Various factors contribute to the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of a college paper, regardless of the discipline. The top factor that makes a paper worth reading, easy-to-follow, and receives a top grade is the one that clearly identifies the thesis at the beginning of the essay and develops the thesis throughout. While there should be a variety of arguments (that’s a future topic), the central point, the thesis statement, of the essay is always clearly in focus in the best essays. Often it is repeated, if not verbatim, at different transition points in the essay.

Likewise in life, each person needs to have a “thesis statement” or a statement of his/her life’s purpose. While each person’s purpose may not be unique (ie there may be other individuals with a similar purpose statement), the way that works out through the interests, gifts, talents and abilities God has given you, will most certainly be unique. My life’s thesis statement is “Leading People by Serving People.”

A good essay does not wander off on tangents, but stays focused on demonstrating/proving the thesis statement. In a similar way, when I feel a sense of restlessness, confusion, or frustration, it is because I have been active (or inactive) in many things but not maintained focus on my thesis. I might be doing lots of nice, good, helpful things, but not ones that really contribute my personal “thesis statement.” On the other hand, when my most important daily agenda items are those connected to the thesis statement, I can come to the end of a not-very-productive day (or otherwise), perhaps one that had many interruptions, and know that my big picture (aka life purpose) was developed, even in a small way.

(c) 2014 Steven C. Ibbotson

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