Care Less for What Other People Think

Care Less for What Other People Think - Quote by Theodore Roosevelt

The American sociologist Charles H. Cooley once described the irrational and unproductive obsession with what others think; he said, “I am not what I think I am and I am not what you think I am; I am what I think that you think I am.”

Some people care excessively about what others think. They place undue importance on external validation, so much so that they sometimes place more emphasis on the commendation or disapproval they receive than on their actual actions.

The great Roman Emperor and Stoic Philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations (trans. Gregory Hays,)

It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own. If a god appeared to us—or a wise human being, even—and prohibited us from concealing our thoughts or imagining anything without immediately shouting it out, we wouldn’t make it through a single day. That’s how much we value other people’s opinions—instead of our own.

'Self-Reliance' by Ralph Waldo Emerson (ISBN 1604500093) In Self-Reliance, American philosopher and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson encouraged people to shun conformity and false consistency, and instead follow their own instincts and ideas:

Live no longer to the expectation of these deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse. Say to them, O father, O mother, O wife, O brother, O friend, I have lived with you after appearances hitherto. Henceforward I am the truth’s. Be it known unto you that henceforward I obey no law less than the eternal law. I will have no covenants but proximities. I shall endeavor to nourish my parents, to support my family, to be chaste husband of one wife,—but these relations I must fill after a new and unprecedented way. I appeal from your customs. I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. If you can love me for what I am, we shall be happier. If you cannot, I will still seek to deserve that you should. I will not hide my tastes or aversions. I will so trust that what is deep is holy, that I will do strongly before the sun and moon whatever only rejoices me, and the heart appoints. If you are noble, I will love you; if you are not, I will not hurt you and myself by hypocritical attentions. If you are true, but not in the same truth with me, cleave to your companions; I will seek my own. I do this not selfishly, but humbly and truly. It is alike your interest, and mine, and all men’s, however long we have dwelt in lies, to live in truth. Does this sound harsh to-day? You will soon love what is dictated by your nature as well as mine, and, if we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last.

Don’t become dependent on what others think of you

'What Do You Care What Other People Think' by Richard P. Feynman (ISBN 0393320928) Feedback, advice, criticisms, and comments are great tools that can help you learn and grow, but only when they come from the right people—people who are knowledgeable, understanding, supportive, and have your best interests at heart. When they come from others, the best response is to listen, mull them over objectivity, and disregard them if they don’t seem right.

Idea for Impact: Don’t do things differently just because somebody asked you to or just because you want to be different for somebody. Do things differently because it makes sense to you. (Read my articles on discipline and motivation.)

Management by Walking Around the Frontlines [Lessons from ‘The HP Way’]

President Abraham Lincoln visiting the Union Army troops during American Civil War In the early part of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln regularly met the Union Army troops and made informal inquiries of their preparedness.

Decades later, on the eve of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, Dwight Eisenhower paid a visit to American and British paratroopers who were preparing to go into battle. As I described in two previous articles (here and here,) the Normandy invasion’s success was wholly dependent on the weather across the English Channel, something Eisenhower could not control. Eisenhower famously told his driver “I hope to God I’m right” about his wager with the weather in launching the Allied attack.

These two leaders were carrying out what is now called Management by Walking Around (MBWA.)

Without MBWA, managers rarely emerge from their offices-turned-fortresses

General Eisenhower addressing American paratroopers on 5-June-1944 before the Battle of Normandy MBWA is a widespread management technique in which managers make frequent, unscheduled, learning-oriented visits to their organization’s frontlines. Managers interact directly with frontline employees, observe their work, solicit their opinions, seek ideas for improvement, and work directly with the frontline to identify and resolve problems.

Hewlett-Packard (HP) was the first company to adopt MBWA as a formal management technique. In The HP Way (1995,) co-founder David Packard attributes much of the success of his company’s remarkably employee-oriented culture to managers’ good listening skills, employees’ enthusiastic participation, and an environment where employees feel comfortable raising concerns—all cultural attributes directly engendered by MBWA.

Fostering open two-way communication

The American quality management pioneer Edwards Deming (1900–1993) once wrote of MBWA, “If you wait for people to come to you, you’ll only get small problems. You must go and find them. The big problems are where people don’t realize they have one in the first place.”

Acclaimed leadership guru Tom Peters popularized MBWA in his bestsellers In Search of Excellence and A Passion for Excellence. Even today, Peters advocates that leaders and managers use MBWA to not only personally spread the company’s values to the frontline but also to accelerate decision-making by helping employees on the spot.

Sam Walton with Walmart's Frontline Employees » Management by Walking Around

Learning about problems and concerns at firsthand

'The HP Way' by David Packard (ISBN 0060845791) MBWA is comparable to the Toyota Production System‘s concept of gemba walks” where managers go to the location where work is performed, observe the process, and talk to the employees. By enabling managers to see problems in context, organizations can better understand a problem, its causes, and its negative impact. Gemba (Japanese for “the real place”) thus facilitates active problem solving.

Because of MBWA, managers’ presence on the frontlines sends a visible signal that a company’s management connects with the realities of the frontline and that leadership is serious about listening to employees’ opinions and resolving problems. MBWA thus complements an organization’s open-door management policy.

Idea for Impact: Practice MBWA

Employees will appreciate that their managers and leaders are open-minded and will sincerely listen to what employees have to say.

Don’t use MBWA to spy on employees or interfere unnecessarily with their work.

Inspirational Quotations #655

What the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly.

Fear of becoming a ‘has-been’ keeps some people from becoming anything.
Eric Hoffer

Money is the most envied, but the least enjoyed. Health is the most enjoyed, but the least envied.
Charles Caleb Colton

History is the recital of facts represented as true. Fable, on the other hand, is the recital of facts represented as fiction. The history of man’s ideas is nothing more than the chronicle of human error.

The surest way to fail is not to determine to succeed.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Never regard study as a duty but as an enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later works belong.
Albert Einstein

Beautiful is the intellectual occupation, if combined with some practical work.
The Talmud

Falling out of love is chiefly a matter of forgetting how charming someone is.
Iris Murdoch

Punctuality is the politeness of princes.
Common Proverb

The person determined to achieve maximum success learns the principle that progress is made one step at a time. A house is built one brick at a time. Football games are won a play at a time. A department store grows bigger one customer at a time. Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments.
David J. Schwartz

The Power of Sharing Your Goals

Seek the Positive Effect of Goal-Accountability

This research from the Dominican University of California suggests that writing down your goals, sharing them with friends, and sending your friends regular updates about your progress can improve your chances of accomplishing your goals. The research implies that

  • People who merely thought about their goals and how to reach them accomplished their goals less than 50% of the time.
  • In contrast, people who wrote down their goals, enlisted friends for them, and sent them regular progress reports succeeded in attaining their goals 75% of the time.

Let Your Goals Guide You

  • Put your goals in writing. Writing down goals can be a strong motivator. Use the SMART technique to avoid being vague about your goals. Connect each goal to a larger purpose, be specific, use action verbs, include measurable outcomes, and stipulate target dates for completion.
  • Enlist the help of others. If you can identify a friend or coworker who may share a goal, team up with them. Convince the other person to go to the gym, quit smoking, or share healthy meals with you regularly. A partner can help you stay motivated and committed.
  • Seek a mentor. Look for role models who may have struggled with goals similar to yours or already achieved the goals. Ask them for advice and suggestions.

Idea for Impact: Seek the Positive Effect of Goal-Accountability

Committing to friends, family, or coworkers on goal-directed actions and making yourself accountable can impel you to stay on course and reach your goals.

Write your goals down, share them with others, provide them regular updates, and ask them to keep you on your toes.

“Crucible” Experiences Can Transform Your Leadership Skills

'Geeks and Geezers' by Warren Bennis (ISBN 1578515823) In Geeks and Geezers (2002), renowned leadership academic Warren Bennis and management consultant Robert Thomas interview 40 “geeks” (aged 21–34) and “geezers” (aged 70–82) to evaluate differences in their leadership values and success patterns.

The two groups vary in backgrounds, ambitions, and their role models. The geeks are more concerned with work-life balance than the geezers. The geezers formed their characters during the Great Depression and World War II and hence hold Franklin Roosevelt, Gandhi, Lincoln, Mandela, Kennedy, and Churchill as leadership role models. In contrast, the geeks tend to model themselves after their parents, friends, bosses, and co-workers.

Leadership “Crucibles”: Pivotal life-changing experiences that alter your thinking and actions

The statistics and analyses of geeks and geezers are a gross distraction from the book’s central idea: that all potential leaders must pass through a “leadership crucible” that provides an intense, transformational experience. Only after they “organize the meaning” of and draw significant lessons from their crucible experiences can they become leaders. They must also cultivate complementary leadership skills such as adaptive capacity and the ability to engage others by creating shared meaning, voice, and integrity.

All geeks and geezers interviewed by the authors had one thing in common: each had at least one leadership crucible. The authors explain that each experience was “a test and a decision point, where existing values were examined and strengthened or replaced, where alternative identities were considered and sometimes chosen, where judgment and other abilities were honed.”

The best leaders excel in their ability to create meaning out of adversity

Crucible Experiences Transform Leadership Skills Geeks and Geezers lays monolithic emphasis on the role of transformational crucible experiences in building leadership skills. The authors conclude that such experiences shape a leader; therefore, “great leaders are not born but made—often by tough, bitter experience.” The book implies that most leadership development initiatives (selection, training, mentoring, job rotation, etc.) are not as effective as they are touted to be. The book advises would-be leaders to develop themselves by seeking out crucible experiences at work, school, or in their communities to maximize their leadership potential.

One meaningful takeaway from Geeks and Geezers is a contemplative exercise: to reflect on some crucible experiences in the reader’s life and examine what he/she has learned from them. The reader may be able to create his/her own story and find his/her “leadership voice.”

Recommendation: Skim. Read the final chapter. Beyond the authors’ anecdote-heavy “research,” Geeks and Geezers will engage readers in interesting case studies of successful men and women who moved beyond the constraints imposed by trying circumstances and reshaped themselves. However, most of Geeks and Geezers lacks substance and practical application, especially in comparison to co-author Bennis’s bestseller On Becoming a Leader.

Inspirational Quotations by Oscar Wilde (#654)

Inspirational Quotations by Oscar Wilde

Today marks the birthday of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900,) the Anglo-Irish playwright considered one of the greatest writers of the Victorian Era.

In his 30s, although married with two children, Oscar Wilde had a love affair with a young aristocrat. The affair became public; the revelation of Wilde’s homosexual double life ruined his reputation in the Victorian society. Still, this was the most creative period of his life. He wrote The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Salome (1891), and Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892.) He then erupted on the British theater scene with three successive comedy hits featuring people leading double lives: A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895), and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895.)

His masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest opened in London on Valentine’s Day 1895. It featured two protagonists who keep up fictitious personas to dodge burdensome social obligations until their sham identities and stories grow so intricate that everything gets revealed.

A few months later, Wilde was sentenced to two years of hard labor for homosexuality. When he got out of prison, he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898,) a poem concerning inhumane prison conditions. With his reputation ruined, he wandered around France and Italy. Wilde’s health declined rapidly and he died penniless in a seedy hotel in Paris at the age of 46.

Oscar Wilde is considered the world’s greatest wit ever. He was a brilliant conversationalist; anecdotes abound about his well-known retorts. Once, when US Customs asked him if he had anything to declare upon arrival in New York, Wilde replied, “Nothing but my genius.”

Entire books have been devoted to Oscar Wilde’s one-liners. He said, “The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” And, “I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself.” And, “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.”

Inspirational Quotations by Oscar Wilde

Charity creates a multitude of sins.
Oscar Wilde

To do nothing at all is the most difficult thing in the world, the most difficult and the most intellectual.
Oscar Wilde

Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.
Oscar Wilde

Man reaches his perfection, not through what he has, not even through what he does, but entirely through what he is.
Oscar Wilde

People who count their chickens before they are hatched act very wisely because chickens run about so absurdly that it’s impossible to count them accurately.
Oscar Wilde

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
Oscar Wilde

Most modern calendars mar the sweet simplicity of our lives by reminding us that each day that passes is the anniversary of some perfectly uninteresting event.
Oscar Wilde

The supreme vice is shallowness.
Oscar Wilde

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
Oscar Wilde

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
Oscar Wilde

A man who is master of himself can end a sorrow as easily as he can invent a pleasure. I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.
Oscar Wilde

Men marry because they are tired; women because they are curious. Both are disappointed.
Oscar Wilde

If you pretend to be good, the world takes you very seriously. If you pretend to be bad, it doesn’t. Such is the astounding stupidity of optimism.
Oscar Wilde

Hard work is simply the refuge of people who have nothing whatever to do.
Oscar Wilde

Skepticism is the beginning of Faith.
Oscar Wilde

When a man has no enemy left there must be something mean about him.
Oscar Wilde

We can have in life but one great experience at best, and the secret of life is to reproduce that experience as often as possible.
Oscar Wilde

A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it.
Oscar Wilde

It is always a silly thing to give advice, but to give good advice is absolutely fatal.
Oscar Wilde

Only the shallow know themselves.
Oscar Wilde

No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist.
Oscar Wilde

Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.
Oscar Wilde

Life is much too important a thing ever to talk seriously about it.
Oscar Wilde

An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.
Oscar Wilde

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Oscar Wilde

An acquaintance that begins with a compliment is sure to develop into a real friendship.
Oscar Wilde

‘Know thyself’ was written over the portal of the antique world. Over the portal of the new world, ‘Be thyself’ shall be written.
Oscar Wilde

My experience is that as soon as people are old enough to know better, they don’t know anything at all.
Oscar Wilde

Wherever there is a man who exercises authority, there is a man who resists authority.
Oscar Wilde

One should never listen. To listen is a sign of indifference to one’s hearers.
Oscar Wilde

What a pity that in life we only get our lessons when they are of no use to us.
Oscar Wilde

Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing.
Oscar Wilde

Ambition is the last refuge of the failure.
Oscar Wilde

When I was young I used to think that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know it is.
Oscar Wilde

If one tells the truth, one is sure, sooner or later, to be found out.
Oscar Wilde

Self-denial is simply a method by which man arrests his progress.
Oscar Wilde

All charming people, I fancy, are spoiled. It is the secret of their attraction.
Oscar Wilde

Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are.
Oscar Wilde

One should never trust a woman who tells one her real age. A woman who would tell that would tell anything.
Oscar Wilde

Ridicule is the tribute paid to the genius by the mediocrities.
Oscar Wilde

A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal.
Oscar Wilde

A man who does not think for himself does not think at all.
Oscar Wilde

Education is an admirable thing. But it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught.
Oscar Wilde

I can resist everything except temptation.
Oscar Wilde

Fashion is what one wears oneself. What is unfashionable is what other people wear.
Oscar Wilde

The moment you think you understand a great work of art, it’s dead for you.
Oscar Wilde

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.
Oscar Wilde

Things are in their essence what we choose to make them. A thing is, according to the mode in which one looks at it.
Oscar Wilde

There is only one class in the community that thinks more about money than the rich, and that is the poor.
Oscar Wilde

One should absorb the color of life, but one should never remember its details.
Oscar Wilde

I have said to you to speak the truth is a painful thing. To be forced to tell lies is much worse.
Oscar Wilde

Rich bachelors should be heavily taxed. It is not fair that some men should be happier than others.
Oscar Wilde

One should always be a little improbable.
Oscar Wilde

Disobedience, in the eyes of any one who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.
Oscar Wilde

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.
Oscar Wilde

Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast.
Oscar Wilde

Prayer must never be answered: if it is, it ceases to be prayer and becomes correspondence.
Oscar Wilde

The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple.
Oscar Wilde

Indifference is the revenge the world takes on mediocrities.
Oscar Wilde

Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.
Oscar Wilde

When the gods choose to punish us, they merely answer our prayers.
Oscar Wilde

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Oscar Wilde

Life is not complex. We are complex. Life is simple, and the simple thing is the right thing.
Oscar Wilde

In examinations the foolish ask questions that the wise cannot answer.
Oscar Wilde

All authority is quite degrading. It degrades those who exercise it, and degrades those over whom it is exercised.
Oscar Wilde

It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution.
Oscar Wilde

Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.
Oscar Wilde

It is absurd to divide people into good and bad. People are either charming or tedious.
Oscar Wilde

Only good questions deserve good answers.
Oscar Wilde

The only thing that can console one for being poor is extravagance. The only thing that can console one for being rich is economy.
Oscar Wilde

Experience, the name men give to their mistakes.
Oscar Wilde

The best way to appreciate your job is to imagine yourself without one.
Oscar Wilde

Lessons on Self-Acceptance from Lee Kuan Yew: Life is what you make of it

'From Third World to First: The Singapore Story' by Lee Kuan Yew (ISBN 0060197765) Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew (1923–2015) was one of the greatest statesmen of the post-WWII era. As Singapore’s quasi-authoritarian leader, Yew transformed his small, resource-poor city-state into an economic powerhouse. (I recommend Yew’s excellent memoir From Third World to First: The Singapore Story.)

Yew’s reply to a question about his perspective on the meaning of life (8:50-minute mark in this video) includes nuggets of wisdom on self-acceptance.

Life is what you make of it. You are dealt a pack of cards. Your DNA is fixed by your mother and your father … . Your job is to make the best of the cards that have been handed out to you. What can you do well? What can you not do well? What are you worse at?

If you ask me to make my living as an artist, I’ll starve, because I just can’t draw… . But if you ask me to do a mathematical question or to argue a point out, I’ll get by. Those are the cards I was handed out, and I make use of them.

Don’t try and do something you are not favored by nature to do.

Pursue Perfect Acceptance, Not a Perfect Life

One of the most effective ways to make positive change in life is to recognize and make peace with parts of yourself that are not innate (or “hard-wired”) in you. Robert Holden emphasized in Happiness Now, “Happiness and self-acceptance go hand in hand. In fact, your level of self-acceptance determines your level of happiness. The more self-acceptance you have, the more happiness you’ll allow yourself to accept, receive and enjoy. In other words, you enjoy as much happiness as you believe you’re worthy of.”

  • 'Now, Discover Your Strengths' by Marcus Buckingham (ISBN 0743201140) Know your limitations. Despite the nudging of countless motivational speeches, you can’t learn to be competent in everything you attempt or think you have a passion for. You can only be great at a few things. Recognize your flaws and do what you’re good at. Indeed, your strengths contain your greatest potential for growth. As Marcus Buckingham argued in his bestselling Now, Discover Your Strengths, discovering and pursuing your strengths is vital to being happier and more productive.
  • Learn to play the hand you’ve been dealt. Don’t engage in wishful thinking. Don’t cry out, “If I only life were different … if only these problems wouldn’t exist, I would …” One of the great realities of life—one that is difficult but important to acknowledge—is that you do not have as much control in life as you would like to have.

Idea for Impact: The key to self-improvement is self-acceptance. Accept reality. Accept yourself. Identify the limits of your abilities and your time and say no to things you know you can’t do well.

The Curse of Teamwork: Groupthink

The Curse of Teamwork: Groupthink

Many teams tend to compromise their decisions for the sake of consensus, harmony, and “esprit de corps.” The result is often a lowest-common-denominator decision upon which everybody in the team agrees. This predisposition for a team to minimize conflict and value conformity is the psychological phenomenon of Groupthink.

'Victims of Groupthink' by Irving Janis (ISBN 0395317045) In the 1970s, American psychologist Irving Janis defined Groupthink as “a mode of thinking that people engage in when deeply involved in a cohesive in-group, when the members’ strivings for unanimity override their motivation to realistically appraise alternative courses of action.” Janis argued that Groupthink “undermines critical analysis, legitimizes ignorance, reinforces collective biases, and promotes a group self-image of infallibility.”

Negative Effects of Groupthink in Teamwork

Teams are prone to Groupthink and a variety of other detrimental decision-making approaches, but are seldom aware of it.

  • Groupthink suppresses dissent Individuals resign to group pressure, thereby conforming their opinions to a decision that they believe will achieve consensus. Groupthink discourages dissenters from “rocking the boat.” Over time, nonconformists are gradually shunted aside or excluded from the team altogether.
  • Groupthink engenders self-censorship. Individuals who disagree with the chosen course of action remain silent because they reason they cannot change others’ minds. Consequently, the team tends to focus its discussions on ideas that everyone agrees about rather than ideas that everyone disagrees about.
  • Groupthink gives team members greater confidence in their collective decisions than their individual decisions. Therefore, Groupthink leads individuals to publicly endorse ideas and decisions that they view as common for the group, even if they personally have reservations about them.
  • Groupthink stifles creativity and independent thinking. When individuals are unwilling to bring up and confront difficult issues, the team fails to examine alternative viewpoints that could be contentious. This leads to irrational and flawed decisions.

Antidote to Groupthink in Teamwork

Negative Effects of Groupthink in Teamwork An awareness of Groupthink and other group dynamic biases combined with some hands-on intervention, self-reflection, and control can help teams make better decisions.

  • Create an organizational environment where individuals can freely voice their ideas, challenges, and concerns. Individuals must feel comfortable with taking interpersonal risks, admitting hesitations, and challenging one-another. Absent an inclination to avoid conflict, a team can easily discuss and debate different perspectives.
  • Think about the right information required to make sound decisions. Consider the strongest counter-argument to every idea.
  • Do not suppress disagreements or dominate the dissenters. Carefully examine the reasons and implications of alternate viewpoints.
  • Divide a team into sub-teams or partnerships and set each sub-team to work on a problem independently. Encourage them to take into account the plusses and the minuses of each idea.
  • Designate one team member as a devil’s advocate to argue enthusiastically against all contemplated ideas. This can force the team to discuss and debate the concomitant merits and demerits of different ideas. In Edward De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats process (see my book summary), the devil’s advocate wears the “black hat.”
  • Invite outside consultants and subject-matter experts to discuss key issues and review decisions.
  • Appoint a moderator who can engage the team collectively and individually by gathering all points of view, giving feedback, and challenging the team’s thinking. Ideally, the moderator should be an independent third party who can be comprehensive and forthright.
  • Step back regularly from the team’s deliberation process to reflect on the effectiveness of the team’s decision-making and intervene where necessary. In the Six Thinking Hats process, De Bono suggests adding reflection time at the end of each meeting to analyze the process’ effectiveness.

Idea for Impact: Sometimes, Teamwork is Overrated

Don’t get me wrong: teamwork can be very powerful, but only when teams consist of individuals who have the right expertise and who are willing to voice their forthright opinions, dissent, and build consensus. Avoid teamwork when one person or a partnership with complementary skills and styles may achieve identical objectives.

To prevent Groupthink, establish an environment where speaking up is encouraged and rewarded. Welcome disagreements, avoid dominating dissenters, and contemplate the strongest counter-argument to every idea.

Inspirational Quotations by John Lennon (#653)

Inspirational Quotations by John Lennon

Today marks the birthday of John Lennon (1940-1980,) English rock legend and co-founder of the Beatles, the most influential music band of the rock era.

A native of Liverpool, Lennon did not show much musical inclination as a child. He was smart but often got into trouble for his angry streak, petty crimes, and rebellious attitude.

At age 16, Lennon listened to Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, and other rock-and-roll legends whose records were brought over by American sailors docking at the Liverpool port. Fascinated by rock and roll music, Lennon formed his own band with several friends and called it the Quarrymen.

'The Beatles- The Biography' by Bob Spitz (ISBN 0316013315) Lennon met Paul McCartney at a church party in the summer of 1957. They became fast friends after Lennon learnt that McCartney could not only tune and play the guitar, but also recall the lyrics of the latest rock and roll songs. The two formed a legendary songwriting partnership that composed 180 songs. After McCartney’s friend George Harrison joined them in 1958, they formed the Beatals, which they later renamed Silver Beetles and finally the Beatles. Drummer Pete Best enlisted in 1960.

The Beatles played at various clubs around England and in Hamburg, Germany. They then returned to England and played at Liverpool’s Cavern Club where businessman Brian Epstein discovered them. After signing up as their manager, Epstein signed the Beatles with EMI records in 1962 and had drummer Pete Best replaced by Ringo Starr. By 1963, the Beatles were the most popular rock and roll band in England. The following year, they took America by storm with their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. ‘Beatlemania’ swept across Europe and America.

'John Lennon: The Life' by Philip Norman (ISBN 0060754028) Lennon was the Beatles’most controversial member. His 1966 statement, “The Beatles are bigger than Jesus Christ,” instigated a religious counterattack in the United States. During the later ’60s, he used his celebrity to draw attention to various political causes and feminism. His vehement denunciation of the Vietnam War resulted in a protracted—but unsuccessful—effort by the Nixon administration to deport him from his adopted hometown of New York. His single “Give Peace a Chance” became the anti-Vietnam-War anthem in 1969.

Lennon married Yoko Ono in 1969. After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, Lennon embarked on a successful solo career. After the birth of son Sean in 1975, Lennon retired from public life and stayed home with family. In 1980, he was assassinated by Mark Chapman who had asked Lennon for his autograph only hours earlier. A few days later, Ono organized over 100,000 people gathered in New York’s Central Park and thousands others around the world to observe a 10-minute silence to honor him. A section of Central Park is designated “Strawberry Fields” in his memory.

Inspirational Quotations by John Lennon

We’ve got this gift of love, but love is like a precious plant. You can’t just accept it and leave it in the cupboard or just think it’s going to get on by itself. You’ve got to keep watering it. You’ve got to really look after it and nurture it.
John Lennon

I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love.
John Lennon

A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.
John Lennon

Work is life, you know, and without it, there’s nothing but fear and insecurity.
John Lennon

The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars peace, love, hate, all that. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it’s unknown, and it’s plain sailing.
John Lennon

It just was a gradual development over the years. I mean last year was ‘all you need is Love.’ This year, it’s ‘all you need is Love and peace, baby.’ Give peace a chance, and remember Love. The only hope for us is peace. Violence begets violence. You can have peace as soon as you like if we all pull together. You’re all geniuses, and you’re all beautiful. You don’t need anyone to tell you who you are. You are what you are. Get out there and get peace, think peace, and live peace and breathe peace, and you’ll get it as soon as you like.
John Lennon

We’re more popular than Jesus Christ now. I don’t know which will go first; rock and roll or Christianity.
John Lennon

Everything is clearer when you’re in love.
John Lennon

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known.
John Lennon

You either get tired fighting for peace, or you die.
John Lennon

Survive Stress & Manage Time Better Using Parkinson’s Law

Parkinson’s Law proclaims, “It is a commonplace observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

'Parkinson's Law, and Other Studies in Administration' by Cyril Northcote Parkinson (ISBN 0395083737) This adage’s namesake is British historian Cyril Northcote Parkinson, who first detailed it as an opening remark in his famous 1955 The Economist essay.

Parkinson’s Law has spawned many serviceable corollaries:

  • A wardrobe expands to fill all the available closet space.
  • A hoarder’s corpus of unwanted items and junk expands to fill his available space—in closets, cabinets, attics, garage, etc.
  • Data expands to fill the space available for storage.
  • Boredom expands to fill the space and time available to an affected individual.
  • Meetings expand to fill the time available. (Appropriately, if you set an hour for the meeting, people will use the entire hour, in spite of how much is on the agenda.)
  • No matter how much money people earn, they tend to spend the entire amount and a little bit more besides.

Parkinson’s Law for Stress-Management and Time-Management

Parkinson's Law for Time Management From a stress- and time-management perspective, the functional implication of Parkinson’s Law is that tasks take as much time as you allot for them. In other words, the amount of time that you have to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.

For example, if you have two hours to process engineering data, clean your wardrobe, bake a cake, or build a birdhouse, you are likely to fill those entire two hours performing that task, even if the task need not necessarily take as much time if you were efficient enough.

Idea for Impact: Put Bookends on Your Activities

According to Parkinson’s Law, work can contract to fill in the time you give it. You can apply artificial limitations to your work in order to finish it more efficiently. Consider setting time limits on all your activities.

Set a timer for each task you’re trying to get done. If you reckon something may take 90 minutes, set a timer for 90 minutes—or better yet, challenge yourself to be more efficient by setting a timer for 60 minutes. During that time, allow no interruptions and distractions. Keep your nose to the grindstone, apply yourself thoroughly to the task, and get it done.

For habitual procrastinators who tend to put off looming tasks to a later time and exert themselves at the “last minute” prior to an imminent deadline, one other corollary to Parkinson’s Law may be helpful: “If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do,” possibly producing mediocre results.