Anyone who knows me knows I can Talk Some Serious Crap at times. I also Say Some Very Wise Stuff, gleaned from 50 years of observation and experience on this earth. I recently had a request from a
colleague friend to document this Very Wise Stuff I Say, so here is Part 1, with attributions where I can find them.
These are heuristics – rules of thumb if you will – that help me understand human behaviour and motivation, and our place in the universe. There is a touch of the fatalist in some of these sayings, much of which is underpinned by the understanding that we are mortal, finite and have a limited amount of time on this earth.
1. Bad is never good until worse happens. ~ Danish proverb
Simply put, this is about perspective and an acknowledgement that things can go pear-shaped very quickly. Things can always be a lot worse than they currently are, and when they are worse, you’ll wish for just plain old bad. A storm that causes a tree to fall on your car is bad, but a storm surge that destroys your home is much, much worse. A delayed flight is bad, but missing a connection and being stranded in Shanghai overnight is much, much worse.
2. Once is never, twice is always. ~ Dr Phil’s Dad
Human beings are creatures of habit, and you can learn much about someone by observing them and keeping a tally of sorts. A person who does something twice has generally established a clear pattern of behaviour. Someone who is late once is never late; the same person who is late twice has a punctuality problem. Someone who has lied to you once has never lied; that same person who lied to you twice has an issue with honesty. Behaviour that you see in others (good or bad) is generally not new.
3. We can ignore reality, but we can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. ~ Ayn Rand
People like to stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and pretend that everything is A-OK. It’s often called The Cleopatra Syndrome (Queen of Denial… geddit?). You can pretend all you like that the plane’s engine hasn’t failed, your plane isn’t spiraling out of control and diving nose first in the ocean, but you can’t ignore the impact of the crash.
4. The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword. ~ Eddard Stark, Game Of Thrones
If you make a decision where someone is to receive bad news, have the guts and integrity to deliver the news yourself. Don’t wimp out and get someone else to do your dirty work for you. It’s weak and disrespectful. And people think worse of you, not better. Ned Stark would go so far as to say it’s a dishonourable act.
5. Never dip your nib in the office ink. ~ Source unknown
Don’t mix your social life with your personal life. It invariably ends badly. And mostly for the woman. I met The Italian at work, so enough said.
6. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. ~ Malcolm X
Those people who have no principles or integrity, will do anything for anyone. They are easily led or influenced, and are like sheets in the wind: flapping any which way the wind blows. They are consistent, yes, but not to be trusted because they can often be bought by the lowest bidder.
7. You can put as many candles as you like on top of a pile of crap, but that still doesn’t make it a birthday cake. ~ Source unknown
Dressing something up does not change its essence. A criminal in an Armani suit is still a criminal. A brutal dictator who smiles nicely at the media every once in a while is still a brutal dictator. An incompetent manager with an EA and a corner officer is still an incompetent manager. You get the picture.
8. This too shall pass. ~ Persian proverb
No state is permanent. Everything is in a state of flux. Nothing stays the same. Even a life badly or sadly lived is, at some point, replaced by death. Part and parcel of being resilient, I think, is acknowledging the ebb and flow of life. That heartbreak you’re currently suffering? You won’t feel the same way in a year. The joyful feeling of winning that dream job? In six months, you’ll probably be thinking about looking for another.
9. It is what it is, not as it should be. ~ Source unknown
Reality check, people. Wishing things were different doesn’t change the present circumstance. As humans we have a preconceived idea of how things should be, or how they should turn out. Invariably, things never turn out how we think they should. Accept what you can’t change, and change what you can. And see Point 8 above.
10. Time wasted that is enjoyed is not time wasted. ~ Bertrand Russell
We are all so busy, busy, busy that we feel guilty if we take time out to do absolutely nothing. We believe that “nothing” is a void that must be filled with busy stuff. Taking time out to do not very much at all is an antidote to all this busyness. Don’t feel guilty – enjoy it!
This is just Part 1. I say a lot of Very Wise Stuff, so stay tuned for Part 2.