Following on from my previous blog - Oh the Irony! #107 - the foot is still doing its healing process, and in addition to the specialist nursing team I’ve also been referred to podiatry. I had been hoping to be out and about and driving by now, but my foot has other ideas.
So, I’ve had to content myself with additional reading, TV, audio books and podcasts as well as my normal working schedule.
I was working on a strategic document last week which was a “work in progress” with input from various people in the organisation and I added one of my customary quotes. This elicited a comment from someone that they would never have thought of including a quote in any sort of “formal” document. This led to an interesting discussion around “quote etiquette” and we agreed that in the end it probably came down to personal preference.
Anyone who knows me, or my communication style will be familiar with my love of quotes and know that I take particular delight in finding just the right one to describe and enhance a particular idea, comment, or statement.
Zig Ziglar had this to say about quotes:
"If you're like me, you'll jump at the chance to bypass all the churning and scoop the cream right off."
"One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper patterns at the right moment. "
I hope you’ll indulge me and allow me to use this blog to highlight some of my very favourite quotes.
Business plans can tend towards the dry and pragmatic, and in my previous role, I always tried to enliven them with apposite quotes to convey the passion we had for the project in question. Financial forecasts were often considered the most important aspect of the plan, but delivery and execution also played a key part. Two of my favourite quotes to cover both the financial and delivery aspects are Theodore Roosevelt’s man in the arena and Anais Nin’s quote on risk.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."
"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
Over the years I’ve worked on many funding applications for revenue and capital projects. Some capital bids were for long-established charities or historic buildings, and two favourites here were Edmund Burke’s vision of society and the Athenian Quote's wonderful imagery which brings buildings to life.
"Society is indeed a contract. It is a partnership in all science a partnership in all art a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born."
“We will leave this place not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was left to us.”
Travel was a huge part of my previous role, and I will never forget the impact of Samuel Johnson’s words carved on the stone pillars of Union Station in Washington DC on what was the first of many transatlantic trips.
"In traveling, a man must carry knowledge with him, if he would bring home knowledge."
I made that trip in 2004, and remember Union Station as a vast bustling “mini-city” with high end shops, restaurants, and even a “movie theatre”. Sadly since the pandemic the station has fallen into steady decline, and has a significant problem with homelessness and crime. However, plans have just been unveiled for a multi-billion-dollar expansion project intended to modernise and revitalise what has been described as one of the most iconic and beautiful railway stations in North America.
On a trip to Canada the hotel guest book carried St Augustine’s quote…
“The world is a book, and he who does not travel reads only one page.”
I've been fortunate to read not just pages, but what feels like entire chapters!
Leadership is a topic close to my heart, and I have literally hundreds of quotes on the topic. Sometimes brevity is best – in these succinct quotes from Warren Bennis and Theodore Hesburgh.
"Managers do things right, leaders do the right thing."
"You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet."
Finally, in our personal and professional lives we encounter the ebbs and flows of life, and Mary Oliver’s poignant poem always comes to mind when I am facing a particularly challenging situation. I find it offers consolation and I never fail to be moved by the beauty of the words and the sentiments at its heart.
"You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting - over and over announcing your place in the family of things."
Take care, lead well