Inspirational Quotations #716

Not everyone will become a great leader, but everyone can become a better leader.
John C. Maxwell

The essence of the Liberal outlook lies not in what opinions are held, but in how they are held: instead of being held dogmatically, they are held tentatively, and with a consciousness that new evidence may at any moment lead to their abandonment.
Bertrand A. Russell

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness.
The 14th Dalai Lama

Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification.
Martin H. Fischer

Those who love to be feared fear to be loved, and they themselves are more afraid than anyone, for whereas other men fear only them, they fear everyone.
Francis de Sales

The prompter the refusal, the less the disappointment.
Publilius Syrus

No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to flee and fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams.
Jesse Jackson

To catch a husband is an art; to hold him is a job.
Simone de Beauvoir

Rich people see opportunities. Poor people see obstacles. Rich people see potential growth. Poor people see potential loss. Rich people focus on rewards. Poor focus on the risks.
T. Harv Eker

Training and managing your own mind is the most important skill you could ever own, in terms of both happiness and success.
T. Harv Eker

Neither praise or blame is the object of true criticism. Justly to discriminate, firmly to establish, wisely to prescribe, and honestly to award. These are the true aims and duties of criticism.
William Gilmore Simms

Many things can make you miserable for weeks; few can bring you a whole day of happiness.
Mignon McLaughlin

Prepare yourself for the world, as the athletes used to do for their exercise; oil your mind and your manners, to give them the necessary suppleness and flexibility; strength alone will not do.
Earl of Chesterfield

Five Pitfalls of Coaching Success

According to Coaching, Mentoring and Managing: Breakthrough Strategies to Solve Performance Problems and Build Winning Teams (1996) by William Hendricks, et al., some managers instinctively do things that thwart their team’s performance.

Examine if you’re guilty of one or more of the following.

  1. Five Pitfalls of Coaching Success Do you tend to speak at your employees, not with them? Your style of instruction could be accompanied by the frequent use of phrases such as “I want” and “you should.”
  2. Do you tend to exaggerate situations or behavior? Your tendency to color an employee’s behavior using qualifiers such as “always,” “never,” and “everyone” could be dragging him down. Generalizations could crush the employee’s sense of self-esteem. If you want to create positive change, instill pride, not shame.
  3. Do you sometimes assume that your employee knows a problem and the solution? It’s possible that the employee may not recognize the problem. Skillfully use lines of questioning that can help the employee drill down into the details and reveal a higher-level issue.
  4. Do you often fail to follow up? If you don’t follow up on directions or performance expectations, you will inevitably find yourself reacting to unpleasant surprises.
  5. Do you not reward improved behavior? If you don’t reward positive changes in behavior, you will not expand behavioral adjustments to permanent performance improvement. Managerial feedback and coaching is all about reinforcing positive behaviors and encouraging corrections to damaging behavior.

A Sense of Urgency

The most successful managers I know are highly attentive of their colleagues’ sense of urgency and incessantly adapt to them.

In his excellent Steve Jobs biography, Walter Isaacson evokes Apple CEO (and operations wizard) Tim Cook‘s responsiveness and a sense of urgency:

At a meeting early in his tenure, Cook was told of a problem with one of Apple’s Chinese suppliers. “This is really bad,” he said. “Someone should be in China driving this.” Thirty minutes later he looked at an operations executive sitting at the table and unemotionally asked, “Why are you still here?” The executive stood up, drove directly to the San Francisco airport, and bought a ticket to China. He became one of Cook’s top deputies.

Idea for Impact: Bosses and customers often respond more positively to your focus on creating a sense of urgency before emerging problems erupt in a crisis.

Inspirational Quotations #715

A great idea is usually original to more than one discoverer. Great ideas come when the world needs them. They surround the world’s ignorance and press for admission.
Austin Phelps

True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.
Winston Churchill

Faith embraces many truths which seem to contradict each other.
Blaise Pascal

Life is the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations.
Herbert Spencer

You’ll likely learn more of enduring value from an hour of wise googling than from any course.
Marty Nemko

The people who oppose your ideas the most are those who represent the establishment that your ideas will upset.
Anthony J. D’Angelo

Skepticism is the chastity of the intellect.
George Santayana

Real, constructive mental power lies in the creative thought that shapes your destiny, and your hour-by-hour mental conduct produces power for change in your life. Develop a train of thought on which to ride. The nobility of your life as well as your happiness depends upon the direction in which that train of thought is going.
Laurence J. Peter

The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews. The ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
William Faulkner

The want of money is the root of all evil.
Samuel Butler

The most common lie is that which one lies to himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
Robert A. Heinlein

The more a man possesses over and above what he uses, the more careworn he becomes.
George Bernard Shaw

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
Alvin Toffler

Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw

Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.
Andrew Grove

Wisdom is the daughter of experience.
Leonardo da Vinci

Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
Warren Buffett

A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Inspirational Quotations #714

By nature man hates change; seldom will he quit his old home till it has actually fallen around his ears.
Thomas Carlyle

You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.
Benjamin Franklin

Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember, the only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.
Zig Ziglar

History is not the story of heroes entirely. It is often the story of cruelty and injustice and shortsightedness. There are monsters, there is evil, there is betrayal. That’s why people should read Shakespeare and Dickens as well as history — they will find the best, the worst, the height of noble attainment and the depths of depravity.
David McCullough

No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved.
Mignon McLaughlin

The only real failure in life is one not learned from.
Anthony J. D’Angelo

It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace. When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.
Harry S. Truman

The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.
Albert Einstein

Conflict is inevitable, but combat is optional.
Max Lucado

Let every dawn of the morning be to you as the beginning of life. And let every setting of the sun be to you as its close. Then let everyone of these short lives leave its sure record of some kindly thing done for others; some good strength of knowledge gained for yourself.
John Ruskin

Your faith is what you believe, not what you know.
John Lancaster Spalding

Do what you feel in your heart to be right—for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
Eleanor Roosevelt

Whenever I hear people talking about liberal ideas, I am always astounded that men should love to fool themselves with empty sounds. An idea should never be liberal; it must be vigorous, positive, and without loose ends so that it may fulfill its divine mission and be productive. The proper place for liberality is in the realm of the emotions.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Warren Buffett’s Advice on How to Focus on Priorities and Subdue Distractions

If you persistently experience an overpowering sense of being besieged with tasks and responsibilities, perhaps a personal productivity transformation technique suggested by Warren Buffett may help.

Psychologist Angela Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania shares a well-known anecdote about Buffett in her bestselling Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance:

The story goes like this: Buffett turns to his faithful pilot and says that he must have dreams greater than flying Buffett around to where he needs to go. The pilot confesses that, yes, he does. And then Buffett takes him through three steps.

First, you write down a list of twenty-five career goals.

Second, you do some soul-searching and circle the five highest-priority goals. Just five.

Third, you take a good hard look at the twenty goals you didn’t circle. These you avoid at all costs. They’re what distract you; they eat away time and energy, taking your eye from the goals that matter more.

As I’ve written before (see the world’s shortest course in time management, and detailed three-step course on time logging, time analysis, time budgeting,) the most effective time management practice involves eliminating the non-essentials—those numerous things you can and want to do—and focusing on the very few things you must do.

Idea for Impact: Success comes at a cost: the most time-effective folks I know are significantly better at dropping their second-rate objectives.

Kinship with Nature

Oneness and Kinship with Nature

I’m currently reading Indian philosopher and statesman Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore (1918.)

Remarking that “a true seer sees in natural facts spiritual significance,” Radhakrishnan comments about Tagore’s revealing of the relation of the individual to the universe, showing how the Indian way of thinking not only emboldens oneness with nature, but also—or especially—with the divine consciousness therein. Radhakrishnan quotes from Tagore’s Sādhanā: The Realisation of Life (1916,)

The Indian mind never has any hesitation in acknowledging its kinship with nature, its unbroken relation with all.

The earth, water and light, fruits and flowers, to her were not merely physical phenomena to be turned to use and then left aside. They were necessary to her in the attainment of the ideal of perfection, as every note is necessary to the completeness of the symphony.

The man whose acquaintance with the world does not lead him deeper than science leads him, will never understand what it is that the man with the spiritual vision finds in these natural phenomena. The water does not merely cleanse his limbs, but it purifies his heart; for it touches his soul. The earth does not merely hold his body, but it gladdens his mind; for its contact is more than a physical contact, it is a living presence. When a man does not realise his kinship with the world, he lives in a prison-house whose walls are alien to him. When he meets the eternal spirit in all objects, then is he emancipated, for then he discovers the fullest significance of the world into which he is born; then he finds himself in perfect truth, and his harmony with the All is established.

Image Credit: Joshua Earle at Unsplash

Inspirational Quotations #713

The golden opportunity you are seeking is in yourself. It is not in your environment; it is not in luck or chance, or the help of others; it is in yourself alone.
Orison Swett Marden

Among well-bred people a mutual deference is affected, contempt for others is disguised; authority concealed; attention given to each in his turn; and an easy stream of conversation maintained without vehemence, without interruption, without eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority.
David Hume

A thousand words leave not the same deep impression as does a single deed.
Henrik Ibsen

When we speak evil of others, we generally condemn ourselves.
Publilius Syrus

In order to be a leader a man must have followers. And to have followers, a man must have their confidence. Hence, the supreme quality for a leader is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office. If a man’s associates find him guilty of being phony, if they find that he lacks forthright integrity, he will fail. His teachings and actions must square with each other. The first great need, therefore is integrity and high purpose.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

You’ll never succeed in idealizing hard work. Before you can dig mother earth you’ve got to take off your ideal jacket. The harder a man works, at brute labor, the thinner becomes his idealism, the darker his mind.
D. H. Lawrence

The road to success is not to be run upon by seven-leagued boots. Step by step, little by little, bit by bit—that is the way to wealth, that is the way to wisdom, that is the way to glory. Pounds are the sons, not of pounds, but of pence.
Charles Buxton

The great difficulty is first to win a reputation; the next to keep it while you live; and the next to preserve it after you die, when affection and interest are over, and nothing but sterling excellence can preserve your name. Never suffer youth to be an excuse for inadequacy, nor age and fame to be an excuse for indolence.
Benjamin Haydon

What the Buddha Taught About Restraining and Dealing with Anger

Buddhist psychology identifies anger as one of the six root kleshas, detrimental emotional states that can cloud the mind, lead us to “unwholesome” actions, and cause our suffering.

Chapter XVII of the Dhammapada (ref. Max Muller’s Wisdom of the Buddha) compiles the teachings of the Buddha and his monastic community on the topic of restraining and dealing with anger:

  • “He who holds back rising anger like a rolling chariot, him I call a real driver; other people are but holding the reins.” (Verse 222)
  • “Beware of bodily anger, and control thy body! Leave the sins of the body, and with thy body practise virtue!” (Verse 231)
  • “Beware of the anger of the tongue, and control thy tongue! Leave the sins of the tongue, and practise virtue with thy tongue!” (Verse 232)
  • “Beware of the anger of the mind, and control thy mind! Leave the sins of the mind, and practise virtue with thy mind!” (Verse 233)
  • “The wise who control their body, who control their tongue, the wise who control their mind, are indeed well controlled.” (Verse 234)

As I’ve mentioned before, you will be at a marked disadvantage in life if you’re unable to perceive, endure, and manage negative emotions. And anger is the hardest of the negative emotions to subdue.

What the Buddha Taught About Restraining and Dealing with Anger

Investigating the nature of anger is important not only because it is such a destructive emotion, but also because anger often sums up many other self-judgments—sadness, powerlessness, fear, regret—that are entwined into it.

The Zen priest Jules Shuzen Harris advices approaching feelings of anger with awareness and mindfulness in his insightful article on “Uprooting the Seeds of Anger” in the Summer 2012 issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review:

We must remember that we create our own anger. No one makes it for us. If we move from a particular event directly to our reaction, we are skipping a crucial awareness, a higher perspective on our own reactivity. What is that middle step, that deeper awareness? It is mindfulness about our own beliefs, our attitude, our understanding or lack of understanding about what has really happened. We notice that a given situation reliably provokes our anger, and yet somebody else can be exposed to the very same situation and not react angrily. Why is that? No one can tell us: we each have to find the answer ourselves, and to do that, we need to give ourselves the space to reflect mindfully.

We’re going to keep getting angry. It’s going to come up. It has come up in our lives before, and it will come up again. This practice is about becoming more mindful, becoming aware of how we are getting stuck. With care and work, we find ways to get unstuck. But we also know that the moment we get unstuck, we’re going to get stuck again. That’s why it is called practice—we never arrive. So when you find yourself upset or angry, use the moment as a part of your practice, as an opportunity to notice and uproot the seeds of anger and move into the heart of genuine compassion.

And as stated by the Chinese Sutra of Forty-two Chapters,

For those with no anger,
how can anger arise?
When you practice deep looking and master yourself,
you dwell in peace, freedom, and safety.
The one who offends another
after being offended by him,
harms himself and harms the other.
When you feel hurt
but do not hurt the other,
you are truly victorious.
Your practice and your victory benefit both of you.
When you understand the roots of anger in yourself and in the other,
your mind will enjoy true peace, joy, and lightness.
You become the doctor who heals himself and heals the other.
If you don’t understand,
you will think not getting angry to be the act of a fool.

Turning a Minus Into a Plus … Constraints are Catalysts for Innovation

Creativity Thrives Best When Constrained

“Art consists in limitation,” as the English writer G. K. Chesterton remarked. Constraints are the sine qua non of creativity.

One of the great ironies of creative thinking is that it seems to benefit from constraints. At first blush, inventive thinking may seem to require a great degree of freedom and a lack of restrictions, but the reality of the creative process is that it is frequently entwined with many challenging constraints and intractable requirements. In the right light, demanding constraints can truly be blessings in disguise as the French poet Paul Valery observed, “A person is a poet if his imagination is stimulated by the difficulties inherent in his art and not if his imagination is dulled by them.”

Constraints can shape and focus problems and provide clear challenges to overcome. Constraints stimulate creativity because they not only invigorate inventive thinking but also reduce the complexity of the problem at hand. That is to say, constraints can make a problem more controllable, and possibly even more appealing.

Constraints and Challenge Can Actually Be Assets to the Creative Process

When you explore inventions that are creative, you’ll discover that the creators often exploited some core constraints that had characterized their domain in the past. Here are six examples of creativity that exploited a constraint to great advantage.

  • British Airways 'Go for it America' marketing campaign and Virgin Atlantic's Response In 1986, British Airways ran a “Go for it, America!” marketing campaign to give away 5,200 free seats—all seats on its scheduled flights between USA and UK on June 10, 1986. In response, the upstart Virgin Atlantic ran its own newspaper advertisements that declared, “It has always been Virgin’s policy to encourage you to fly to London for as little as possible. So on June 10 we encourage you to fly British Airways.” And in smaller type, the ad read, “As for the rest of the year, we look forward to seeing you aboard Virgin Atlantic. For the best service possible. At the lowest possible fare.” The British Airways giveaway generated a lot of publicity, but most of the news coverage also mentioned Virgin’s unexpected, witty response.
  • In October 1984, during the second presidential debate with challenger Walter Mondale, Henry Trewhitt of the Baltimore Sun questioned President Ronald Reagan about his age: “You already are the oldest President in history, and some of your staff say you were tired after your most recent encounter with Mr. Mondale. I recall, yes, that President Kennedy, who had to go for days on end with very little sleep during the Cuba missile crisis. Is there any doubt in your mind that you would be able to function in such circumstances?” Reagan famously replied, “Not at all, Mr. Trewhitt and I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent’s youth and inexperience.” Tyrwhitt responded, “Mr. President, I’d like to head for the fence and try to catch that one before it goes over.” Mondale lost and Reagan got elected for his second term as President. [See YouTube clip of this debate.]
  • An determined young woman I knew was embarking on a career as a new architect. She had set her sights on a job with a prominent architectural firm, but her professors and career councilors urged her to gain experience at a smaller employer first, as no prestigious firm would take on an inexperienced, new graduate. Undeterred, the young woman applied to the firm she had set her sights for. When asked about her experience, she declared slickly, “I have no experience at all. You see, I want to learn this business at a top quality firm. Employ me and mentor me to suit your design practices. This way, I’ll not have to unlearn any of the second-rate skills I’d have learned in another place.” She got the job.
  • When YouTube launched in 2005, many of its upstart competitors examined each uploaded video for copyright infringement. However, unlike its competitors, YouTube calculatedly let users upload any content and waited for copyright owners to complain before taking down noncompliant videos. By choosing to put their business model at risk, YouTube rapidly grew in content and viewers. Its early rivals faded out, and YouTube got acquired by Google and went on to became the world’s leading video-sharing platform.
  • The Soup, 1902 by Pablo Picasso (from his Blue Period) Legend has it that one day, the Spanish painter Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) had only blue paint to work with. When he started toying with the effects of painting with one color, he discovered the potential to produce interesting paintings that conveyed a sense of melancholy. Picasso had just relocated to Paris and was deeply affected by a close friend and fellow artist’s suicide. Art historians believe this event marked the onset of Picasso’s Blue Period (1901–1904,) during which he produced many stoic and sentimental paintings in mostly monochromatic shades of blue and blue-green. In what would become the hallmark of this greatest artist of the 20th century, Picasso leveraged an apparent constraint into an unintended creative outcome.
  • When American sculptor Janet Echelman‘s art supplies never arrived to South India on a Fulbright scholarship trip, Echelman altered her plans and started working with bronze casts inspired by the local materials and culture of Mahabalipuram, fishing village famous for sculpture. However, she soon found the material too heavy and expensive for her Fulbright budget. While examining fishermen bundling their nets one evening, Echelman began speculating if nets could be a new approach to sculpture. However, the delicate surfaces of the fishnets revealed every ripple of wind. Echelman hoisted the fishnets onto poles and created sturdy volumetric forms without heavy, solid materials. Echelman’s building-sized constructed net art structures are now featured in many cities around the world. [See Janet Echelman’s TED talk.]

In each situation, the inventor reframed elements of his/her world that he/she couldn’t control.

When faced with an element of the situation that they cannot ignore or overcome, instead of tackling those problems head-on, creative folks tend to leverage their constraints in a creative way and reframe them into an exceptionally powerful problem-solving technique.

Idea for Impact: Constraints often stimulate creativity rather than suppress it.

The heart of many a problem lies in what seems to be a single, intractable element. When that’s the case, instead of asking, “how can I minimize this liability?” explore “how can I make the most of it?”