Personal Meaning

Take serious things playfully and playful things seriously.

Reflect on this pithy saying. What does it mean to you?

This activity involves reflecting on a pithy saying, discovering its personal meaning to you, and sharing your insights with others.


Present a pithy saying related to the training topic. Ask the participants to reflect on it and discover its personal meaning. Later, ask the participants to repeatedly pair up and share their insights with each other.


To reflect on a pithy saying and share its significance with others.


Minimum: 2

Maximum: Any number

Best: 15 to 30


15 to 25 minutes, depending on the number of participants


Reflection Questions, one copy for each participants

Supplies and Equipment

  • Paper for taking notes
  • Pencils or pens
  • Timer
  • Whistle


Select a suitable pithy saying. Talk to subject-matter experts and friends to identify a suitable quote, aphorism, epigram, advice, or proverb related to your training topic. Search the Internet. Edit and combine your search results. If you cannot find anything suitable, create your own crisp statement.


Present the pithy saying. Project it on the screen. Read it once. Do not explain or interpret its significance.

Reflect silently. Ask the participants to think about what the statement personally means to them. After about 30 seconds, distribute copies of the handout with reflection questions. Encourage the participants to use these questions to prompt further reflection. Also invite the participants to jot down some notes on their reflections.

Pair up. After another suitable pause, tell the participants to stand up and pair up with someone. Explain that they will share their personal insights from reflecting on the pithy statement.

Share the insights. Announce a suitable time limit. Ask the participants to take turns to share their reflections. Encourage the listener to comment on whether the other person’s insights confirmed his or her own insights or presented a new perspective.

Repeat the procedure. When the pair of participants have completed sharing their insights, ask them to thank each other, pair up with a new partner, and begin sharing again.

Conclude the activity. At the end of the time limit, blow the whistle and announce the conclusion of the activity. Ask the participants to return to their seats.

Debrief. Ask the participants to silently think about what they learned from their reflections and interactions. Encourage them to plan for applying their insights to their workplace.


Reflection Questions

  1. What are your personal thoughts about this pithy saying?
  2. How would you explain this statement in your own words?
  3. What guidance does this statement provide you?
  4. What personal experiences do you have that are related to this statement?
  5. How would you convert this statement into a piece of personal advice?
  6. How would you transform this statement into a memorable slogan?
  7. How would you explain this statement to a 7-year old?
  8. How would you apply this statement to your personal life?
  9. How would you apply this statement to your workplace?
  10. What could be the negative consequences of taking this statement too seriously?