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Quotable Quotes: Aphorisms

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrsdkrebs/6813913539/Do you know what an ‘aphorism’ is? It’s a bit of accepted wisdom or observations recognized by the general population as being true. A friend sent me a list of aphorisms I grew up with—oldies but goodies (like me) and still true. I’ll share more oldies, along with more currents ones in the months to come. I’ve added explanations to the more obscure ones, but feel free to ask if you don’t get it.

A lick and a promise (a quick fix with a promise to come back and do the job right later)—sounds like a lot of software releases.

One bad apple spoils the whole barrel—apropos to managers who ignore the team member who is tearing the group apart.

Been through the mill (had a rough time)—a fairly accurate description of most entrepreneurs.

Scarce as hen’s teeth (hens don’t have teeth)—programmers in their twenties with 10 years of mobile experience.

Whatever floats your boat (or paddles your canoe)—an attitude opposite of the ‘my way or the highway’ so prevalent today.

Catawampus (out of place or crooked [I love saying catawampus, it makes me smile])—the condition of the stuff on most of our desks (definitely mine).

Stringing around or piddling (not doing anything of value)—worker action a day or two before and after holidays or vacation.

You ain’t the only duck in the pond (it’s not all about you)—there are almost as many variations as people who don’t believe it.

Flickr image credit: Denise Krebs

Quotable Quotes: Actions

Sunday, December 27th, 2009

actionsI came across the following last week,

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.
Watch your words, for they become actions.
Watch your actions, for they become habits.
Watch your habits, for they become character.
Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

and it got me thinking about cause and effect; where things start and where they go from there.

Leonardo da Vinci said, “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do,” while Hemingway warns us, “Never mistake motion for action.”

Very true, ideas are all well and good, but they accomplish nothing as long as they stay in your head.

However, there is a problem we’re seeing a lot of now when thought becomes action that was best summed up by Goethe, “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.”

Ann Radcliffe says, “One act of beneficence, one act of real usefulness, is worth all the abstract sentiment in the world,” while Brian Koslow reminds us, “The more you are willing to accept responsibility for your actions, the more credibility you will have.”

But it is Colleen C. Barrett who nails the problem we face today, “When it comes to getting things done, we need fewer architects and more bricklayers.”

Don’t forget that after today you’ll need to get your Quotable Quote fix at MAPping Company Success or subscribe via RSS or EMAIL

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Image credit: Mr_Ristoo on sxc.hu

Quotable Quotes: Change

Sunday, December 20th, 2009

changeAs you probably know by now there is change afoot at Leadership Turn. Specifically it’s ending, as all good things end, and that means change for me and you.

But that’s good.

As Harold Wilson said, “He who rejects change is the architect of decay.  The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.”

Edwards Deming said it more simply, “It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”

Well, I plan to survive and we sure aren’t dead, so change it is.

When change hits have you noticed how much energy people expend looking for reasons not to change? John Kenneth Galbraith said it best, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.”

I don’t mind big changes, such as moving from California to Washington, but I hate changing little stuff, especially personnel changes in the companies with which I frequently deal.

When that resistance kicks in I remind myself of something I read years ago—if nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. Good thought—change as metamorphosis.

Pauline R. Kezer said, “Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights.”

Kurt Lewin opines, “If you want to truly understand something, try to change it.” Boy, is that true.

But it is John Lilly who really understands what change means, “Our only security is our ability to change.”

Change should be embraced, even when you’re not sure what it will bring.

Since b5 notified me the Leadership Turn was ending I’ve wondered what the change would mean to me. Will you migrate to MAPping Company Success and continue inspiring me to explore articles I read and share my off-the-wall ideas? Will you read a blog that doesn’t have ‘leadership’ in the name?  What will I do with the extra time?

What kind of butterflies will this change bring?

You can answer some of these questions by subscribing today via RSS or EMAIL.

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Image credit: David Reece on flickr

Quotable Quotes: Universal Russian Proverbs

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

RussiaToday was a super cool day for me. I met my Russian business partner Nick Mikhailovsky, CEO of NTR Lab, for the first time, although we’ve worked together for a decade.

So when I started thinking about today’s quotes Russia was on my mind. And when I think of Russia I think of proverbs.

I find proverbs to be fascinating proof that no matter the color, culture or time there really is only one race on this planet—human.

The basic concepts of human action and interaction span the globe. In fact, I’ll bet that your culture has a saying that embodies the same concepts as these do.

War has been around as long as the human race as has the desire for peace, which only proves the truth of this proverb, “Eternal peace lasts only until the next war.”

Common sense underlies this proverb, “as long as the sun shines one does not ask for the moon,” but people rarely follow it.

Real Estate people are fond of saying that the there are only three things that matter, location, location, location, but I’ll bet that this proverb predates that by decades, if not longer. “Don’t buy the house, buy the neighborhood.”

It is well know that age is no guarantee of wisdom, knowledge or smarts, but “long whiskers cannot take the place of brains” is a more elegant way of saying it.

My next offering is one that has always been true, but has been proven in spades over the last couple of decades. “With lies you may go ahead in the world – but you can never go back.” Bernie Madoff has decades to think that one over.

“There is no shame in not knowing; the shame lies in not finding out.” This is one that all of us need to take to heart. We need to find out about our politicians, financial managers, corporate chieftains, religious leaders and any others we choose to trust.

Speaking of politicians, we should never forget that “when money speaks, the truth is silent” and we have condoned a culture of political silence.

There is a universal applicability and truth in this proverb, “When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart.”

Maybe the reason for the universality of these thoughts is found in my final offering, “Proverbs are the people’s wisdom.”

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Image credit: Ed Yourdon on flickr

Quotable Quotes: Success

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

success-quotesSuccess has as many definitions as there are people and the best ones are those that are private. You know, the ones you think about at 3 am or hug to yourself as you fall asleep at night.

Most of the quotes about success follow predictable lines and there are enough to count instead of sheep if you’re having problems sleeping. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad choice for today, it just means I had to look a little harder to avoid boring you.

Oh well, in a salute to the norm we’ll start with Harry F. Banks comment, “For success, attitude is equally as important as ability.” Or we can translate it to Miki-speak and say it’s all in your MAP.

And that means, as Adlin Sinclair said, “You are the embodiment of the information you choose to accept and act upon. To change your circumstances you need to change your thinking and subsequent actions.”

Lily Tomlin hit the nail on the head when she said, “The road to success is always under construction”

And Anon backs that up with a nice little play on words, “Success comes in cans; failure in can’ts.” (I love language plays like that.)

Albert Einstein offers up a great formula for success, If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut. Funny how many people forget just how critical ‘Z’ is to achieving ‘A’.

But it is T.S. Eliot who offers up the real truth of the subject, Success is relative: It is what we can make out of the mess we have made of things.

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Image credit: alter1fo on flickr

Quotable Quotes: Holidays

Sunday, November 29th, 2009


Good grief, where did the time go? Thanksgiving is over, and that means the year is close to ending, but first comes the holiday season. Nothing but parties and get-togethers for the next 4.5 weeks.

Frank Ogden said, “Holidays are the greatest learning experience unknown to man.” I think he has a real point, otherwise most of us wouldn’t keep repeating the same actions and activities every year that don’t work for us—isn’t that similar to Einstein’s definition of insanity?

Sadly Philip Andrew Adams hit the nail on the head when he said, “To many people holidays are not voyages of discovery, but a ritual of reassurance.”

Holidays are funny things, rarely does your version of what happened match those of the other people present. But does that matter? Denis Norden said, “It’s like your children talking about holidays, you find they have a quite different memory of it from you. Perhaps everything is not how it is, but how it’s remembered.” How very true, your reality is based on your memories, not someone else’s version of the same event.

Bob Edwards made a very valid observation when he said, “One can always tell when one is getting old and serious by the way that holidays seem to interfere with one’s work.” Based on that I’m still not old, no matter what Social Security says, and I never will be—what about you?

Ben Franklin’s wisdom is accurate as ever, “How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep holidays than commandments.” You may not agree, but it seems these days the more vocal the religion the greater the intolerance and hate; I’d rather go back to the days when faith was private and tolerance waxing.

But it’s Pepper Schwartz who sums up the holidays perfectly, “Holidays in general breed unrealistic expectations. The minute you start wondering, ‘is it going to be wonderful enough?,’ it never will be.” The trick, obviously, is not to wonder, just assume. Believe with all your heart; know that it will happen and it will.

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Quotable Quotes: Lies

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

lie-with-statisticsLies. These days it seems that everybody lies. Politicians, but that’s not new; corporate honchos, way more than previously; religious leaders, in the name of CYA; parents, for their kids own good; kids, because they’re kids; and on and one.

Richard Bach believes that the worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves, while Mark Twain believes there are three types of lies, there are lies, damned lies and statistics. I like that; I’ve always thought that statistics are like the Bible, you can spin them to support any view.

Adolf Hitler said, Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it. He understood what Eric Hoffer meant when he said, “Those in possession of absolute power can not only prophesy and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their lies come true,” and he almost did it.

Fox Mulder blithely says, “I would never lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation.” Wow, he could have a second career on Wall Street.

Lies are corrosive; they destroy the teller and damage the tellee.

I agree with Ann Landers, who said, “The naked truth is always better than the best dressed lie;” and with Baltasar Gracian, who said, “A single lie destroys a whole reputation for integrity.”

I learned early on that I’m a superlative liar, but I don’t bother for two reasons, one prosaic and the other meaningful.

Prosaically, when you lie you need to remember every one of them or they will trip you in the future.

The more profound reason was best stated by George Bernard Shaw when he said, “The liar’s punishment is not in the least that he is not believed, but that he cannot believe anyone else.” And that’s just not how I wanted to live my life.

We’ll end today with a bit of political levity from Adlai Stevenson, “I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends… that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.” Too bad they didn’t take him up on that!

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Image credit: semaphoria on flickr

Quotable Quotes: Simon Wiesenthal

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

hateFor those of you too young to know, Simon Wiesenthal was an Austrian-Jewish architectural engineer until the advent of Hitler. He survived three death camps in a four year period and became a world renowned, or reviled depending on your sympathies, Nazi hunter.

Wiesenthal’s words may have their roots in the Holocaust, but they apply equally well to today’s geopolitical situation, as well as more mundane stuff like work. You might think I’m exaggerating, but if you tone down the power of his words you’ll find a reflection of the office bully; the pointy haired manager; and other situations you face on a daily basis.

If you know from history the danger, then part of the danger is over because it may not take you by surprise as it did your ancestors.

Ancestors aside, tracking the historical actions of the people in your world protects you from being taken unaware.

Violence is like a weed – it does not die even in the greatest drought.

There are many kinds of violence and not all of them involve bodily harm; psyches are gossamer; abuse exists in many contexts.

What connects two thousand years of genocide? Too much power in too few hands.

Think this doesn’t apply to business? Think of the lives destroyed by Enron, the banking crisis, Bernard Madoff—there are many kinds of death and the destruction of dreams and hope is a type that often goes unacknowledged.

For evil to flourish, it only requires good men to do nothing.

True since time began, but good men and women often do nothing in and out of the business world.

Technology without hatred can be a blessing. Technology with hatred is always a disaster.

Technology covers a great deal of ground; in itself it is benign, but, like a car, it can maim and kill when mixed with anger, fear, hate or carelessness.

Freedom is not a gift of heaven, you have to fight for it every day,

Your personal fight is against whatever enslaves or endangers you, no matter the source. Just be sure in fighting that you don’t inflict the same damage on your foes.

Humour is the weapon of unarmed people: it helps people who are oppressed to smile at the situation that pains them.

And it is humor that wreaks the most havoc on your foes in the business world.

Human rights is the only ideology that deserves to survive,

Ideology has cost our world its peace, prosperity and maybe its future. Ideology eliminates rationality; I honestly believe that the minute people start thinking ‘yours is wrong, mine is right’ the trouble begins—and usually escalates.

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Image credit: Liz Henry on flickr

Life In Six Words

Friday, November 6th, 2009

6Can you sum up your life in just 6 words?

Clare Booth Luce, according to columnist Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan, once told President John Kennedy that “a great man is one sentence.” Noonan writes that Lincoln’s life could be summed up as “He preserved the Union and freed the slaves.”Bloomberg.com

Smith Magazine just published its second collection of six word memoirs by, as they say, “the famous and obscure.” They also continually collect them on their website.

Forcing yourself to boil down your current situation or a specific aspect of it is a great way to bring clarity to often smoky or downright opaque feelings.

I love this idea and would like to invite all of you to post your six word summation in comments. I’ll then create a permanent page in the right-hand column to make it easy to post updates as often as you choose. I’ll start off.

Option Sanity™ success is my future

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Quotable Quotes: Mary Higgins Clark

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Mary-Higgins-ClarkI just finished Mary Higgins Clark’s memoir. Hers is a name you see everywhere, books, TV movies and on the big screen. The memoir is a fast read, a fascinating peek into the world that shaped this master storyteller and some excellent insights on just plain living.

“When a child comes to you wanting to share something he or she has written of sketched, be generous with our praise. If it’s a written piece, don’t talk about the spelling or the penmanship; look for creativity and applaud it. The flame of inspiration needs to be encouraged. Put a glass around that small candle and protect it from discouragement or ridicule.

I wonder if any adult—parent or teacher—realizes that young people never forgive or forget being humiliated.”

This really hit home. In high school I took a creative writing class; one assignment was to write a short screenplay from which our teacher would choose a few to critique in class.

He started with the one he thought was best and proceeded through the others. Mine was among those chosen and he tore it to pieces, not professionally, but with sarcasm and zingers. He ended the critique by asking how any student could be so arrogant as to think that the writing had any value whatsoever.

Needless to say, the so-called anonymity was a joke and everyone knew who the authors were and my humiliation was extreme. It was 35 years before I creatively wrote again, but never stories—that desire was totally dead and buried.

Higgins Clark shares two old definitions of happiness that should resonate with everyone and if they don’t then you need to take a hard look at your values.

“If you want to be happy for a year, win the lottery. If you want to be happy for life, love what you do.” and “Something to have, someone to love, and something to hope for.”

Definitely food for thought as you start gearing up for the holidays.

Finally, following up thread I started Friday and have decided to continue tomorrow, “It is not always how we act, but how we react that tells the story of our lives.”

I hope you will join me tomorrow to see why, in many cases, coping is a far more productive activity than fixing, both at work and in life.

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Image credit: Mark Coggins on flickr

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