I heard a good one the other day: “Everyone wants to go to heaven, but no one wants to die.”
Good, eh? It’s so true. We want the reward, but aren't so keen about the sacrifice.
It’s the kind of quote that some would hang on the wall of their office, or on the lid of their toolbox. It’s a bit of inspiration captured on paper.
Personally, I think quotations tend to lose their impact after a while, so they need to be replaced periodically with new ones.
Probably the first quote I ever displayed at work was one by Bob Dylan that reminded me of the task of a journalist to uncover hidden motives and truths. “Something is happening here,” it said, “but you don't know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?”
Funny story. When one of my colleagues quit he taped the name of our editor over the words “Mr. Jones.” Everyone got a good laugh out of that except for the editor.
That phrase hasn't lost any of its value for me, but I no longer display it. Over the years, I’ve found new phrases that offer inspiration and motivation. My love of words has led to an appreciation of finely crafted mission statements and codes of ethics – the summaries of our best goals and intentions in what can be a heartless business environment.
This fascination stems, I think, from reading J.D. Salinger who wrote a book in which a character covered the entire inside door of his room with quotations, fables, and short poems. I loved the idea that this young person was smart enough to draw on the wisdom of others.
I think a lot of us cling to favorite quotations, like this kid did, especially when times get tough. Who hasn’t had Woody Allen’s famous axiom thrown in their face from time to time: “Eighty percent of success is just showing up.”
When I go to shops, I often see quotes posted in public areas, offering a moment of reflection and perspective in a hectic environment. One shop owner I know draws inspiration from the Scottish proverb, “Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead.” He has it posted in his waiting area, in direct line of sight of his office.
Another shop owner has the words “Never argue with an idiot” taped to the inside edge of the counter. His customers cannot see it, thank goodness!
I know one technician – and this gets into the area of superstition a little bit – who has a ritual of touching the side of his toolbox where his favorite quotation from Walt Disney is framed: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Everyone needs inspiration sometimes. What words of wisdom do you rely on? I really want to know. I’d love to hear why it means so much to you. Tell me how you stumbled across it and when you first learned its motivating power. I’ll let others know about them. We’ll swap them like hockey cards. What inspires you will very likely inspire someone else.
Like smiles, quotations enrich the giver as well as the receiver.
Hey, that's a good one. Maybe that should go on my wall!
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