Inspirational Quotations #686

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
George Jean Nathan

Rob the average man of his illusion and you rob him of his happiness at one stroke.
Henrik Ibsen

Enjoying the joys of others and suffering with them–these are the best guides for man.
Albert Einstein

There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.
Ronald Reagan

It is great wealth to a soul to live frugally with a contented mind.
Lucretius

Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.
Frank Lane

The majority is always wrong; the minority is rarely right.
Henrik Ibsen

Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.
John C. Maxwell

Happiness includes chiefly the idea of satisfaction after full honest effort. No one can possibly be satisfied and no one can be happy who feels that in some paramount affairs he failed to take up the challenge of life.
Arnold Bennett

A stream of tasteful water, having flown into the sea, becomes saline and thus undrinkable. For this simple reason, a wise man should never associate with one of wicked and impure soul.
Subhashita Manjari

The actions of a great man are an inspiration for others. Whatever he does becomes a standard for others to follow.
The Bhagavad Gita

The tragedy of life is what dies within a man while he still lives.
Albert Schweitzer

The secret of success behind all men of achievement, lies in the faculty of applying their intellect in all their activities, without being mislead by any surging emotions or feelings. The secret of success in life lies in keeping the head above the storms of the heart.
Swami Chinmayananda

A good head and good heart are always a formidable combination. But when you add to that a literate tongue or pen, then you have something very special.
Nelson Mandela

Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm on the Art of Love and Unselfish Understanding

Psychoanalyst Erich Fromm on the Art of Love and Unselfish Understanding

To Listen is to Love

Erich Fromm (1900–80) was a famous German psychoanalyst, philosopher and social critic. His best-selling work, The Art of Loving (1956,) has been translated into more than fifty languages and has sold than thirty million copies. Fromm argues that one of the deepest human desires is wholeness and unity. Consequently, humans seek to overcome their persistent sense of separateness by finding love—that profound experience of belonging and unity that still makes allowances for individual identity and expression.

According to The Art of Loving, one’s character orientation and social outlook depend greatly on one’s ability to experience meaningful loving relationships with others. The principal responsibility in practicing the art of loving is overcoming one’s narcissism, which Fromm argues is tantamount to cultivating objective reality and embracing the spirit of generosity—doing cosmic good:

Society must be organized in such a way that man’s social, loving nature is not separated from his social existence, but becomes one with it. If it is true, as I have tried to show, that love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence, then any society which excludes, relatively, the development of love, must in the long run perish of its own contradiction with the basic necessities of human nature.

The Art of Therapy is the Art of Listening

'The Art of Listening' by Erich Fromm (ISBN 0826406548) For Fromm, the first duty of love is paying attention to othersto listen and to understand. His less-popular, but equally noteworthy The Art of Listening (1994) explores listening as an act of love. Based on the imperfectly-edited transcript of a 1974 colloquium on psychoanalysis, The Art of Listening presents Fromm’s therapeutic method of dealing with the emotional distresses of people through listening.

Psychotherapists endeavor to listen non-judgmentally, understand keenly, and frame questions that will assist their patients to work out what they should do to change their lives. Exploring this nature of communication between the therapist and his patient, Fromm explains that the therapist must offer himself as a thoughtful individual specifically trained in the art of listening. Fromm identifies listening as “an art like the understanding of poetry” and offers six guiding principles for mastering the art of selfless understanding:

  1. The basic rule for practicing this art is the complete concentration of the listener.
  2. Nothing of importance must be on his mind, he must be optimally free from anxiety as well as from greed.
  3. He must possess a freely-working imagination which is sufficiently concrete to be expressed in words.
  4. He must be endowed with a capacity for empathy with another person and strong enough to feel the experience of the other as if it were his own.
  5. The condition for such empathy is a crucial facet of the capacity for love. To understand another means to love him—not in the erotic sense but in the sense of reaching out to him and of overcoming the fear of losing oneself.
  6. Understanding and loving are inseparable. If they are separate, it is a cerebral process and the door to essential understanding remains closed.

Even though The Art of Listening focuses on becoming a better shrink through listening, there’s much in this excellent book by way of techniques, dynamics, and mindsets that make for the most favorable listening relationships in life, as in therapy.

Good Questions Encourage Creative Thinking

Thought-provoking questions: potential game changers that are not asked nearly enough

Asking Questions to Encourage Creativity “To think creatively, we must be able to look afresh at what we normally take for granted,” wrote George F. Kneller (1909–1999), the American academic and pioneer in the field of philosophy of education, in Art and Science of Creativity (1965.) Many people don’t know how to probe their thought processes with questions that encourage creativity.

Consider a brainstorming meeting where a new idea was received with comments and judgments like, “this won’t work,” “we’ve never done it this way,” “the customer won’t like it,” or, “if this is such a great idea, why hasn’t it been done before?” Immediately, a dysfunctional pattern ensues. Defensiveness sets in and the meeting’s participants will resist making any more suggestions and will fail to explore those ideas that were previously made. (One of the key principles of “divergent thinking” for idea-generation is to defer judgment. Neuroscience has suggested that the human prefrontal cortex—the self-monitoring element of the brain—is less active when we’re most creative.)

Creative thinkers ask open-ended, accommodating, and exploratory lead-in questions such as,

  • “I wonder if/why/whether … “
  • “Perhaps we could … “
  • “That would work if/when … “
  • “In what ways can we … .” This favorite of mine was introduced by Edward de Bono, the lateral thinking pioneer and creator of the “Six Thinking Hats” method for group creativity. De Bono called this lead-in question the ‘IWW.’

Instead of declaring “we could never do this,” ask “IWW (in what ways) may people start to do this?” In practical terms, this rephrasing may seem a small thing, but it embodies a leap in unhindered, open-minded thinking. The former seems a categorical rejection; but the latter invites an exploration of possibilities and signals the beginning of the search for solutions to constraints.

Idea for Impact: The ability to pose meaningful—and often deceptively simple questions is the hallmark of creativity

Good Questions Encourage Creative Thinking Often, what leads a creative person to get fresh insight is the quality of questions he/she asks. Questions such as “I wonder if …” and “In what ways can we … ” ignite dialogues in your mind that can lead to creative insights and new discoveries.

The prospect for creative thinking expands when you can reframe restraining statements into creative questions. Consider the following examples:

  • Restraining statement: “We can’t possibly do that.”
    Creative question: “If it were possible, how would you do it?”
  • Restraining statement: “It’ll take too long.”
    Creative question: “If it’s time-consuming, how can I make it short?”
  • Restraining statement: “I can’t talk to her.”
    Creative question: “If you could talk to her, what would you say?”
  • Restraining statement: “I’m too busy to do this.”
    Creative question: “In what ways can we free up some time for you?”

During brainstorming, asking questions in a way that opens participants’ minds to newer possibilities can have a transformative shift in the creative atmosphere. When participants suspend their judgments, everyone in the brainstorming session will feel comfortable enough to explore creative solutions to constraints.

Inspirational Quotations by Alexander Pope (#685)

Inspirational Quotations by Alexander Pope

Today marks the birthday of Alexander Pope (1688–1744,) one of the most vivid poets and extraordinary satirists to have ever written in the English language.

Pope was born Catholic in Protestant England, so he was denied access to the best schools and a university. His aunt taught him to read and a priest taught him Greek and Latin. At age eight, Pope was captivated by the works of Homer. Later, in his thirties, he published English translations of Homer’s Illiad (1720) and Odyssey (1726,) now considered Pope’s greatest literary accomplishments.

'An Essay on Criticism' by Alexander Pope (ISBN 1407643258) Pope’s first literary success came just before his 23rd birthday when he published a 744-line poem called An Essay on Criticism (1711) about the history of literature. Not only did this poem make Pope famous for his attack of contemporaneous literary critics, but it also became one of the most quoted poems in the English language. This poem comprises such prominent adages as, “A little learning is a dangerous thing,” “To err is human, to forgive, divine,” and “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

After contracting spinal tuberculosis at the age of 12, Pope became hunchbacked and crippled. He never grew beyond 4’6″ in height and remained in frail health throughout his life. His adversaries derided his physical appearance as much as they did his works of satire. Pope’s other major works include The Rape of the Lock (1714), The Dunciad (1728), and An Essay on Man (1734.)

Pope was the first English poet who financially supported himself through only his writing. He was also the first English writer to have translations of his poems into other languages and become famous all over Europe—all during his lifetime. He is the second-most frequently quoted writer in the English language after Shakespeare.

Inspirational Quotations by Alexander Pope

Amusement is the happiness of those who cannot think.
Alexander Pope

Get place and wealth, if possible with grace; if not, by any means get wealth and place.
Alexander Pope

Some praise at morning what they blame at night, But always think the last opinion right.
Alexander Pope

I believe no one qualification is so likely to make a good writer, as the power of rejecting his own thoughts.
Alexander Pope

Remembrance and reflection how allied. What thin partitions divides sense from thought.
Alexander Pope

He serves me most, who serves his country best.
Alexander Pope

They dream in courtship, but in wedlock wake.
Alexander Pope

It is with our judgments as with our watches: no two go just alike, yet each believes his own.
Alexander Pope

Talk what you will of taste, you will find two of a face as soon as two of a mind.
Alexander Pope

I would tear out my own heart if it had no better disposition than to love only myself, and laugh at all my neighbors.
Alexander Pope

To be angry, is to revenge the fault of others upon ourselves.
Alexander Pope

Some old men, by continually praising the time of their youth, would almost persuade us that there were no fools in those days; but unluckily they are left themselves for examples.
Alexander Pope

Be silent always when you doubt your sense.
Alexander Pope

Never elated when someone’s oppressed, never dejected when another one’s blessed.
Alexander Pope

In faith and hope the world will disagree, but all mankind’s concern is charity.
Alexander Pope

To err is human, to forgive divine.
Alexander Pope

Histories are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.
Alexander Pope

Be thou the first true merit to befriend, his praise is lost who stays till all commend.
Alexander Pope

Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.
Alexander Pope

Absent or dead, still let a friend be dear.
Alexander Pope

An honest man’s the noblest work of God.
Alexander Pope

Fondly we think we honor merit then, When we but praise ourselves in other men.
Alexander Pope

We think our fathers fools, so wise we grow. Our wiser sons, no doubt will think us so.
Alexander Pope

There is a majesty in simplicity which is far above the quaintness of wit.
Alexander Pope

Ten censure wrong, for one that writes amiss.
Alexander Pope

He who tells a lie, is not sensible how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.
Alexander Pope

‘Tis education forms the common mind: just as the twig is bent the tree’s inclined.
Alexander Pope

It is very natural for a young friend and a young lover to think the persons they love have nothing to do but to please them.
Alexander Pope

Many men have been capable of doing a wise thing, more a cunning thing, but very few a generous thing.
Alexander Pope

Pride is still aiming at the best houses: Men would be angels, angels would be gods. Aspiring to be gods, if angels fell; aspiring to be angels men rebel.
Alexander Pope

The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
Alexander Pope

Party is the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
Alexander Pope

There is nothing meritorious but virtue and friendship.
Alexander Pope

True politeness consists in being easy one’s self, and in making every one about one as easy as one can.
Alexander Pope

It is with narrow-souled people as with narrow necked bottles: the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out.
Alexander Pope

False happiness is like false money; it passes for a long time as well as the true, and serves some ordinary occasions; but when it is brought to the touch, we find the lightness and alloy, and feel the loss.
Alexander Pope

When we are young, we are slavishly employed in procuring something whereby we may live comfortably when we grow old; and when we are old, we I perceive it is too late to live as we proposed.
Alexander Pope

Two purposes in human nature rule. Self-love to urge, and reason to restrain.
Alexander Pope

What it Takes to Be a Hit with Customers

  1. Be Trustworthy. One of the most important aspects of being effective at work is earning and upholding others’trust through your actions, not through your words. You earn trust slowly but can lose it in a moment—as Warren Buffett often reiterates, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Idea for Impact: Earn trust by making and honoring your commitments. Do what you commit to. Act with integrity. Do the right things for the right reasons.
  2. Responsiveness in Customer Service: Respond immediately to requests unless there is a judicious reason to wait Be Responsive. We live in a time and age of “instantaneous gratification.” People want immediate results—without delay or deferment. They don’t expect to wait. And if they have to wait on you, their resentment grows. Alas, responsiveness affects how people perceive you. If you’re slow, your customers will suppose you are indifferent or incompetent. If you respond promptly, they’ll assume you’re proficient and on top of your work. Idea for Impact: Respond immediately to requests unless there is a judicious reason to wait.
  3. Be Strong, But Flexible. Respect the rules and traditions but be adaptable to changing conditions. Be watchful and absorb from whatever you can learn—as General Electric’s celebrated ex-CEO Jack Welch once wrote, “The desire and the ability of an organization to continuously learn from any source—and to rapidly convert this learning into action—is its ultimate competitive advantage.” Idea for Impact: Flexibility with rules can be pragmatic in its own right. Learn to make rational decisions by balancing facts and emotions.
  4. Be Realistic, Not Overly Optimistic. Self-help gurus and the media have endlessly touted optimism as the “winning formula to success.” This obsession with cheerfulness has reinforced a false sense of realism and pragmatism. Optimists tend to overlook the reality—they develop a false sense of hope and become too attached to the possibility of positive outcomes. Unfortunately, realists are branded as skeptics and skeptics are quickly shunned as outcasts. Idea for Impact: Take an honest and levelheaded view, no matter what the problem. Embrace the possibility of failure. Plan for the downside. Don’t get caught up in trivial details.
  5. Be Likeable and Interested. Highly competent but unlikeable people do not succeed as well as their fairly competent but likeable counterparts. The American poet and memoirist Maya Angelou aptly said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Idea for Impact: Be pleasant, enthusiastic, and friendly—make eye contact, smile, and say ‘hello’ more. Listen. Be open and approachable. Appreciate the individuality of people. Try to be interested, not just interesting.
  6. Be a Good Salesperson - Much of success in life is really about selling yourself Be a Good Salesperson. Much of success in life—from getting a Starbucks barista to make a special no-whip, extra-foam latte with half a packet of Splenda to finding a spouse—is really about selling yourself. Every selling situation involves making a connection with an individual who likes and trusts you. An anonymous sales guru once said, “All things being equal, most people would rather buy from somebody they like… and that’s true even when all things aren’t equal.” Idea for Impact: It is useless to work hard and be creative unless you can also sell what you create. Learn to be persuasive. You can’t just talk people into things.
  7. Be Visible and Communicate Candidly. How you identify and respond to a problem or a crisis is the ultimate test of your character. If you do not communicate frequently, people will develop their own perceptions of the problem and its implications. Knowing when to step up your communications efforts to the right levels during difficulties can be a powerful tool in problem solving. Idea for Impact: Keep your eyes open for customers’ inconveniences, difficulties, and troubles as creative problems to be solved. Focus on problem solving. Be visible. Communicate and lead from the front. Learn how to handle upset customers.

Postscript: This Harvard Business Review article argues that, more than anything else, customers want just a reasonable solution to their expectations. Delighting them by “exceeding their expectations” hardly enhances customer loyalty.

Don’t Be Interesting—Be Interested!

Management Guru Jim Collins’s “Golden Rule”

Jim Collins's 'Golden Rule': Don't Be Interesting---Be Interested! In the December 2005 issue of the now-discontinued Business 2.0 magazine, 30 business visionaries disclosed their “golden rules”—attitudes they swear by more than any other. Jim Collins, the renowned leadership consultant and author of such bestselling management books as Good to Great and Built to Last, recollected a lesson he learned from his mentor, the American intellectual and public servant John W. Gardner:

One day early in my faculty teaching career, John Gardner sat me down. “It occurs to me, Jim, that you spend too much time trying to be interesting,” he said. “Why don’t you invest more time being interested?”

If you want to have an interesting dinner conversation, be interested. If you want to have interesting things to write, be interested. If you want to meet interesting people, be interested in the people you meet—their lives, their history, their story. Where are they from? How did they get here? What have they learned? By practicing the art of being interested, the majority of people can become fascinating teachers; nearly everyone has an interesting story to tell.

I can’t say that I live this rule perfectly. When tired, I find that I spend more time trying to be interesting than exercising the discipline of asking genuine questions. But whenever I remember Gardner’s golden rule—whenever I come at any situation with an interested and curious mind—life becomes much more interesting for everyone at the table.

The Technique to Become the Most Interesting Person in the Room is to Find Others Interesting

Becoming likeable requires creating lasting impressions in others by becoming genuinely interested in them In the conduct of life, people tend to focus more on becoming more interesting—i.e., impressing others with their personae and their stories. While trying to become more interesting is a worthwhile pursuit, it is certainly not everything in becoming accepted and well-liked. Becoming likeable requires creating lasting impressions in others by becoming genuinely interested in them.

John Gardner’s advice (via Jim Collins) echoes self-improvement pioneer Dale Carnegie’s legendary advice that the ticket to one’s success in life is one’s ability to make others feel good about themselves. In his masterful manual on people skills, How to Win Friends & Influence People, Carnegie writes, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

It is a common fallacy to assume that you must just be an interesting person to get people to like you. Observe this human tendency in the next networking meeting or social gathering you attend. Most people tend to be absorbed in just one thing: being interesting themselves—blabbing “I did this … I did that … I like this … I’ve been there” and offering bits of information that nobody else but them really cares about.

How to Build a Bit of Intimacy, Even in a Brief Conversation

Become genuinely interested in others and make them like you Making others like you amounts to making them feel special about themselves—making them feel that you really “get” them. The next time you meet someone new at a social setting, try this easy technique to be more interested.

  • The key to become absorbed in a conversation is to focus on being curious about others. So, tell yourself repetitively, “This seems to the most interesting person in the world. Let me discover why.” Look for opportunities to connect.
  • When you meet someone new, make eye contact and smile. Introduce yourself with a simple “Hi, my name is Joanna Kovaleski. I am Megan’s real estate agent.”
  • Pay attention and make them feel like they are the only people in the room.
  • Ask a question or two about the person before talking about yourself. “How do you know Megan and Eric?” “Is this your first time in Chicago?” As I’ve written previously, chatting with somebody in socializing situations should be less about discerning the details of the other’s life and more about building a bit of familiarity to initiate stimulating conversations, debates, discussions, and exchange of ideas about topics of mutual interest. These prospects will all be missed if your initial interaction starts with annoying cross-examinations such as “What do you do for a living?”
  • Ask a follow-up question based on what they have just said. Try to understand who they are and why they are there. Learn about their interests and hobbies.
  • Say more about yourself. Use what you’ve just learned about the other person so far to selectively highlight anything you have in common.
  • Then, ask one question to bring the focus back to the other person.
  • People love to talk about themselves; so, make them. Everyone’s got a story to tell.
  • Don’t talk too much or too little. Try taking your focus off yourself.

Idea for Impact: Become Genuinely Interested in Others and Make Them Like You

'How to Win Friends & Influence People' by Dale Carnegie (ISBN 0671027034) To be interested in other people—and consequently get them interested in you—is a significant social skill you must develop and hone. But don’t feign. As Carnegie cautions in How to Win Friends & Influence People, “The principles … will work only when they come from the heart. I am not advocating a bag of tricks; I am talking about a new way of life.”

The following books have helped me with improve my socializing skills. Perhaps you’ll find them useful too.

Inspirational Quotations by B. C. Forbes (#684)

Inspirational Quotations by B C Forbes Today marks the birthday of Bertie Charles Forbes (1880–1954,) American financial journalist and editor. Forbes was the founder of the Forbes business magazine and publishing empire.

Born a poor country boy in Scotland, Forbes started work as a printer’s apprentice at age 14. He soon became a financial journalist in England, and progressively graduated into the roles of reporter, editor, and publisher first in South Africa and then in New York. In 1916, he successfully started the Forbes magazine at age 36 and became famous for writing profiles of business leaders. By 1946, Forbes reached a circulation of 100,000 and was popular not only for its analyses of business and economic trends, but also for Forbes’personal style of business journalism.

Forbes wrote several books including Finance, Business and the Business of Life (1915,) Men Who Are Making America (1917,) Forbes Epigrams (1922,) and 101 Unusual Experiences (1952.)

Inspirational Quotations by B C Forbes

A price has to be paid for success. Almost invariably those who have reached the summits worked harder and longer, studied and planned more assiduously, practiced more self-denial, overcame more difficulties than those of us who have not risen so far.
B. C. Forbes

The man of fixed ingrained principles who has mapped out a straight course, and has the courage and self-control to adhere to it, does not find life complex. Complexities are all of our own making.
B. C. Forbes

Better to be occasionally cheated than perpetually suspicious.
B. C. Forbes

The man who has done his level best, and who is conscious that he has done his best, is a success, even though the world may write him down a failure.
B. C. Forbes

We must learn that to enjoy happiness we must conscientiously and continuously seek to spread happiness. Selfishness is suicidal to happiness.
B. C. Forbes

The real friend is he or she who can share all our sorrow and double our joys.
B. C. Forbes

The man without religion is as a ship without a rudder.
B. C. Forbes

Money, or even power, can never yield happiness unless it be accompanied by the goodwill of others.
B. C. Forbes

The incontestable truth is that America has been built up by optimists, not by pessimists, but by men possessing courage, confidence in the nation’s destiny, by men willing to adventure, to shoulder risks terrifying to the timid.
B. C. Forbes

Thomas Edison reads not for entertainment but to increase his store of knowledge. He sucks in information as eagerly as the bee sucks honey from flowers. The whole world, so to speak, pours its wisdom into his mind. He regards it as a criminal waste of time to go through the slow and painful ordeal of ascertaining things for one’s self if these same things have already been ascertained and made available by others. In Edison’s mind knowledge is power.
B. C. Forbes

Madame Curie didn’t stumble upon radium by accident. She searched and experimented and sweated and suffered years before she found it. Success rarely is an accident.
B. C. Forbes

The victors of the battles of tomorrow will be those who can best harness thought to action. From office boy to statesman, the prizes will be for those who most effectively exert their brains, who take deep, earnest and studious counsel of their minds, who stamp themselves as thinkers.
B. C. Forbes

Our future and our fate lie in our wills more than in our hands, for our hands are but the instruments of our wills.
B. C. Forbes

There is more genuine joy in climbing the hill of success, even though sweat may be spent and toes may be stubbed, than in aimlessly sliding down the path to failure. If a straight, honorable path has been chosen, the gaining of the summit yields lasting satisfaction. The morass of failure, if reached through laziness, indifference or other avoidable fault, yields nothing but ignominy and sorrow for self and family and friends.
B. C. Forbes

Whimpering never kept a leaking vessel from foundering. Vigorously manning the pumps has. Get busy with your head and hands, not your chin.
B. C. Forbes

Life is just an endless chain of judgements…. The more imperfect our judgement, the less perfect our success.
B. C. Forbes

Honesty is the cornerstone of character. The honest man or woman seeks not merely to avoid criminal or illegal acts, but to be scrupulously fair, upright, fearless in both action and expression. Honesty pays dividends both in dollars and in peace of mind.
B. C. Forbes

Diamonds are only lumps of coal that stuck to their jobs.
B. C. Forbes

Opportunity can benefit no man who has not fitted himself to seize it and use it. Opportunity woos the worthy, shuns the unworthy. Prepare yourself to grasp opportunity and opportunity is likely to come your way. It is not so fickle, capricious and unreasoning as some complain.
B. C. Forbes

J.P. Morgan, then past 70, was asked by the son of an eminent father why he (Morgan) didn’t retire. “When did your father retire?” asked Mr. Morgan, without looking up from his desk. “In 1902.” “When did he die? Oh, at the end of 1904.” “Huh!” snapped Mr. Morgan, “If he had kept on working he would have been alive still. Work is God’s best medicine. It is God’s medicine for man.”
B. C. Forbes

The human being who lives only for himself finally reaps nothing but unhappiness. Selfishness corrodes. Unselfishness ennobles, satisfies. Don’t put off the joy derivable from doing helpful, kindly things for others.
B. C. Forbes

The man who is intent on making the most of his opportunities is too busy to bother about luck.
B. C. Forbes

Lady Luck generally woos those who earnestly, enthusiastically, unremittingly woo her.
B. C. Forbes

Jealousy… is a mental cancer.
B. C. Forbes

Many a man thinks he is patient when, in reality, he is indifferent.
B. C. Forbes

You have no idea how big the other fellow’s troubles are.
B. C. Forbes

Tell me how a young man spends his evenings and I will tell you how far he is likely to go in the world. The popular notion is that a youth’s progress depends upon how he acts during his working hours. It doesn’t. It depends far more upon how he utilizes his leisure…. If he spends it in harmless idleness, he is likely to be kept on the payroll, but that will be about all. If he diligently utilizes his own time … to fit himself for more responsible duties, then the greater responsibilities-and greater rewards-are almost certain to come to him.
B. C. Forbes

Mediocre men wait for opportunity to come to them. Strong, able, alert men go after opportunity.
B. C. Forbes

Ambition means longing and striving to attain some purpose. Therefore, there are as many brands of ambition as there are human aspirations.
B. C. Forbes

Opportunity rarely knocks on your door. Knock rather on opportunity’s door if you ardently wish to enter.
B. C. Forbes

What you have outside you counts less than what you have inside you.
B. C. Forbes

It is when things go hardest, when life becomes most trying, that there is greatest need for having a fixed goal. When few comforts come from without, it is all the more necessary to have a fount to draw from within.
B. C. Forbes

Learn to Manage Your Negative Emotions and Yourself

Negative emotions not only take their toll on our mind, body, and spirit, but also hinder your liberation from suffering, according to the Buddhist way of life.

People who lack the capacity to withstand psychological distresses such as anger, fear, frustration, and sadness are at a marked disadvantage in life. When faced with life’s unceasing challenges, they respond with greater emotional distress. Worse yet, rather than deal with the challenge at hand wisely, they engage in destructive behaviors, often with verbal and physical aggression toward themselves and others.

Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati on resilience and equanimity

There’s great strength in learning to divorce yourself from negative emotions

People with lower tolerance for distress usually spin their wheels and find as many escapes—including substance abuse and binging—as their troubled minds can conjure up. Instead of allowing themselves a modest amount of grieving, rebounding quickly, and moving on with their lives, they feel victimized. They avoid people and situations that may provoke frustration, discomfort, embarrassment, and uncertainty. In due course, their mind, body, and spirit start to atrophy.

Speaking of the need to expand the human capacity of resilience and equanimity and learn from adversity to achieve success, the renowned Hindu spiritual teacher Swami Chinmayananda Saraswati (1916–93) once said, “The secret of success behind all men of achievement, lies in the faculty of applying their intellect in all their activities, without being mislead by any surging emotions or feelings. The secret of success in life lies in keeping the head above the storms of the heart.”

Having a propensity to react negatively will hurt your career and personal life

When the celebrated American tennis player Andre Agassi (who was infamous for his temperaments) was asked in a Harvard Business Review interview if he learned to manage his emotions when he played, Agassi replied,

I’ve seen people use emotion, positive or negative, as a tool, and it works for them. But typically, the more you can remove emotion, the more efficient you’ll be. You can be an inch from winning but still miles away if you allow emotion to interfere with the last step. So you have to accept the weather, heat, rain, stops and starts, the line calls, whatever your opponent is giving you, however tired or injured you are. There are so many things that can distract you from taking care of business. The only thing you can control is your engagement.

Equanimity is thus at the center of Buddhist practice

When you learn to better understand, tolerate, and harness negative emotions, you become empowered.

Learn to manage your negative emotions and yourself. From Buddhist perspective, learn to thoughtfully attend to your negative emotions with an emphasis on neither suppressing them nor acting them out. According to verse 4.34 in Udāna, eighty stories that contain eighty utterances of the Buddha,

Whose mind is like rock, steady, unmoved,
dispassionate for things that spark passion,
unangered by things that spark anger:
When one’s mind is developed like this,
from where can there come suffering & stress?

Equanimity is thus at the center of Buddhist practice, which prescribes many forms of disciplined practices to overcoming the harmful effects of destructive emotions. According to the Therīgāthā (“verses of the female elders”,) a set of principles composed by senior nuns during the lifetime of the Buddha,

If your mind becomes firm like a rock
And no longer shakes
In a world where everything is shaking,
Your mind will be your greatest friend
And suffering will not come your way.

Idea for Impact: Negative emotions and the destructive behaviors they breed are essentially always wrong—they are psychological errors you’ll do well to eliminate in yourself.

Book Summary of ‘The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload’

'The Organized Mind' by Daniel Levitin (ISBN 0147516315) In the best-selling The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload, neuroscientist Daniel Levitin argues that the problem with the proliferation of information isn’t as much about the storage of the information as it is about organizing and retrieving that information. The human brain is incredible at storing data; the challenge is summoning up the right stuff at the right time, while not being distracted by the rest.

To be efficacious, we not only need to limit the information we consume (by simplifying, limiting our sources, quitting social media, taking digital Sabbaths, etc.) but also need to develop systems to take the strain off our befuddled brains. To do this, Levitin says, we must organize our personal environments to better channel our brains’ unique approach to doing things.

According to The Organized Mind, the trick to efficiently organize and manage information is to “shift the burden of organizing from our brains to the external world.” Levitin uses the latest brain science to propose “organization principles”—methods and disciplines to regain a sense of mastery over the way we can organize our time, home, and office.

Organization Principle #1: Conquer information overload

The information age is drowning us with an exceptional deluge of data. Simultaneously, we’re expected to make more decisions quickly than ever before. To survive information overload, Levitin suggests:

  • Be much more discerning at what you allow in. Not all input is worthy of being let in. Exercise control and discipline regarding your input choices. Don’t keep what you can’t use.
  • Develop and put into practice an organization system that works for you: to-do lists, 3×5 cards, etc. Whatever that system is, it needs to offload, classify, and be easy to retrieve. A mislabeled item or misplaced location is worse than an unlabeled item.
  • Organize in all areas and facets of your life. “Too much stuff” is fatiguing, no matter which part of your life has the “too much stuff” problem.

Organization Principle #2: Quit multi-tasking and become fanatical about focused work

Quit Multi-tasking Levitin’s pet hate is multitasking, which he describes as “the ultimate empty-caloried brain candy.” Our brains are not designed for multitasking; he writes, “When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly. And every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost in doing so.”

  • Allow no distractions when you are in “focused work mode.”
  • Limit the interruption caused by email, text messages, visitors, and callers.

Organization Principle #3: Rest more, work less

In our chronically sleep-deprived society, sleep deficit is a performance killer. The general effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive performance are well-known: scientists have documented that when we are sleep-deprived our immune system suffers, our thinking and judgments are impaired, and our fuse becomes very short.

Studies have found that productivity goes up when the number of hours per week of work goes down, strongly suggesting that adequate leisure and refueling time pays off for employers and for workers. Overwork—and its companion, sleep deprivation—have been shown to lead to mistakes and errors that take longer to fix than the overtime hours worked. A sixty-hour work week, although 50% longer than a forty-hour work week, reduces productivity by 25%, so it takes two hours of overtime to accomplish one hour of work. A ten-minute nap can be equivalent to an extra hour and a half of sleep at night.

  • A calm, well-rested mind is a fruitful mind. Don’t overlook sleep, rest, and vacation as stress busters.

Organization Principle #4: Organize your physical environment into categories so it helps your mind

Organize Your Physical Environment One principle that Levitin emphasizes repeatedly is “offloading the information from your brain and into the environment” so you can “use the environment itself to remind you of what needs to be done.” One appealing example he offers is, “If you’re afraid you’ll forget to buy milk on the way home, put an empty milk carton on the seat next to you in the car or in the backpack you carry to work on the subway (a note would do, of course, but the carton is more unusual and so more apt to grab your attention).”

  • Levitin also emphasizes the importance of putting things away in their designated places, because there’s a special part of our brain dedicated to remembering the spatial location of things.
  • Neuroscientists have proved that the human brain is good at creating and thinking in categories. “The fact that our brains are inherently good at creating categories is a powerful lever for organizing our lives.” Further, “productivity and efficiency depend on systems that help us organize through categorization.”

Organization Principle #5: Spend only as much time on decisions, tasks, and actions as they are worth.

Significantly, Levitin suggests the practice of satisficing—a decision-making approach that aims for acceptable or “good enough” results, rather than the optimal solutions:

Satisficing [is] a term coined by the Nobel Prize winner Herbert Simon, one of the founders of the fields of organization theory and information processing. Simon wanted a word to describe not getting the very best option but one that was good enough. For things that don’t matter critically, we make a choice that satisfies us and is deemed sufficient. You don’t really know if your dry cleaner is the best—you only know that they’re good enough. And that’s what helps you get by. You don’t have time to sample all the dry cleaners within a twenty-four-block radius of your home. … Satisficing is one of the foundations of productive human behavior; it prevails when we don’t waste time on decisions that don’t matter, or more accurately, when we don’t waste time trying to find improvements that are not going to make a significant difference in our happiness or satisfaction. … Recent research in social psychology has shown that happy people are not people who have more; rather, they are people who are happy with what they already have. Happy people engage in satisficing all of the time, even if they don’t know it.

Organization Principle #6: A Zen mind is an organized mind

Conquer Information Overload Beyond the productivity hacks and the tweaks, Levitin suggests a spiritual composure in favor of mental organization. He advocates practicing Zen-like mindfulness not only to relieve the anxiety that comes with worries over undone tasks and unease over future uncertainties, but also to allot more of your limited attention to the present moment.

  • Instead of seeking to cope with information overload and travel at warp speed, focus on the things you can do to put yourself on the right path to better wellbeing—one thought, one bite, one task, one project, and one breath at a time.

Recommendation: Read Daniel Levitin’s ‘The Organized Mind’

In today’s “age of information overload” you may find yourself continuously distracted and swamped with demands for multitasking. Daniel Levitin’s fascinating The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload explains how to organize your mind, systematize your home and office, and gain control over your life.

Even if The Organized Mind is somewhat meandering and ill-organized (which is ironic for a book getting organized,) Levitin discusses noteworthy capabilities and limitations of the human brain and how to effectively deal with them.

Idea for Impact: Develop a comprehensive plan to audit, simplify, and structure how information flows through your life. Develop personal habits and organizational systems to lead your mind effortlessly to good decision-making. As Levitin suggests, “The task of organizational systems is to provide maximum information with the least cognitive effort.”

Inspirational Quotations by Rabindranath Tagore (#683)

Inspirational Quotations by Rabindranath Tagore

Today marks the birthday of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941,) the pre-eminent literary genius not only of his native Bengal, but also of South Asia—possibly the whole of Asia.

Tagore displayed an extraordinary combination of talents: he was a poet, novelist, short-story writer, essayist, playwright, educationist, philosopher, painter, lyricist, composer, and singer.

Tagore wrote in his mother tongue Bangla. His colossal body of work spanned all literary genres and lead to a renaissance of vernacular literatures across the subcontinent. Tagore is translated beyond the borders of region and language; Gitanjali (1910, Eng. trans. Song Offerings Gitanjali) remains Tagore’s most translated work.

Tagore’s versatile genius wielded a deep influence on the psyche of the Bengali people. He also culturally and politically inspired India and Bangladesh, where he remains the subject of deep pride and admiration.

As a philosopher, Tagore challenged the binarism of India’s spiritual values and the spirit of the West. He held that one’s native culture could be reconciled by acknowledging and absorbing the good in other cultures. Taking into consideration the great conflicts of his time, Tagore articulated his vision of the “universal man.” He wrote, “The unity of human civilization can be better maintained by linking up in fellowship and cooperation of the different civilizations of the world.” And, “Let the mind be universal. The individual should not be sacrificed.”

'Gitanjali' by Rabindranath Tagore (ISBN 0486414175) Tagore was the first non-Westerner to receive a Nobel Prize. In accepting the 1913 Nobel Prize for Literature, Tagore was recognized for “his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”.

Tagore has the rare distinction of writing the national anthems of three countries. India’s “Jana Gana Mana” and Bangladesh’s “Amar Sonar Bangla” are his compositions. Tagore also wrote the Bengali song “Nama Nama Sri Lanka Mata” for his student Ananda Samarakoon who translated the lyrics to Sinhalese and recorded it in Tagore’s tune to create Sri Lanka’s national anthem.

Inspirational Quotations by Rabindranath Tagore

The potentiality of perfection outweighs actual contradictions… Existence in itself is here to prove that it cannot be an evil.
Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures. It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers. It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow. I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.
Rabindranath Tagore

Time is a wealth of change, but the clock in its parody makes it mere change and no wealth.
Rabindranath Tagore

If you shut your door to all errors, truth will be shut out.
Rabindranath Tagore

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.
Rabindranath Tagore

Love’s overbrimming mystery joins death and life. It has filled my cup of pain with joy.
Rabindranath Tagore

In the dualism of death and life there is a harmony. We know that the life of a soul, which is finite in its expression and infinite in its principle, must go through the portals of death in its journey to realise the infinite. It is death which is monistic, it has no life in it. But life is dualistic; it has an appearance as well as truth; and death is that appearance, that maya, which is an inseparable companion to life.
Rabindranath Tagore

The greed of gain has no time or limit to its capaciousness. It’s one object is to produce and consume. It has pity neither for beautiful nature nor for living human beings. It is ruthlessly ready without a moment’s hesitation to crush beauty and life out of them, molding them into money.
Rabindranath Tagore

In the world’s audience hall, the simple blade of grass sits on the same carpet with the sunbeams, and the stars of midnight.
Rabindranath Tagore

Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.
Rabindranath Tagore

If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.
Rabindranath Tagore

Where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders.
Rabindranath Tagore

You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water. Don’t let yourself indulge in vain wishes.
Rabindranath Tagore

The fundamental desire of life is the desire to exist.
Rabindranath Tagore

“A Hundred Years from Now”—A Poem by Rabindranath Tagore

Here is a snippet of Tagore’s 1896 poem “A Hundred Years from Now” (“Aaji Hote Shata Barsha Pare” in Bengali) from his one-act play Chitra (1913.) English translation by Fakrul Alam in The Essential Tagore.

A hundred years from now
Who could you be
Reading my poem curiously
A hundred years from now!
How can I transmit to you who are so far away
A bit of the joy I feel this day,
At this new spring dawn,
The beauty of flowers this day
Songbirds that keep chirping away
Of the crimson glow of the setting sun.
How can I love them all with my love,
And hope you will make them your own
A hundred years from now? …
 
An impulse from me that could make your soul sway.
At a time a hundred years away! …
 
A hundred years from now
Who will that new poet be
Singing in your festival merrily 
I send him my spring greetings —
Hoping he will make them his own
Let my spring song resound in your spring day
For a while let my tune stay —
In the fluttering of your soul, the humming bees,
And murmuring in leaves,
A hundred years from now!