Let us endeavour to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry.
Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
Failure is the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
I'm a great believer in luck. The harder I work the more I have of it.
Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values.
Don't just listen to what people say, listen to how they say it.
Give people more than they expect.
Speak slowly, but think quickly.
If you leave your mind open too far, others may fill it with trash.
Judge success by what you put into it, as well as what you get out of it.
Don't laugh at other's dreams. People without dreams don't have much.
Take care when giving advice - it might be given back.
Never argue with a fool. After a few minutes, no one can tell who's the bigger fool.
Think you can or think you can't - either way, you're probably right.
When you lose, don't lose the lesson.
Silence is sometimes the best answer.
Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you'll be able to enjoy
it a second time.
Lessons from Noah
Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton asked why.
Joy in looking and comprehending is nature's most beautiful gift.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for
existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous
structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a
...one of the strongest motives that lead men to art and science is escape from everyday life with its painful crudity and hopeless dreariness, from the fetters of one's own ever-shifting desires. A finely tempered nature longs to escape from the personal life into the world of objective perception and thought.
I keep six honest serving-men,
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.
Ralph W. Sockman
"Because it's there" will probably satisfy the naturally curious. Asking "Why?" can lead to hidden inner beauty, deeper understanding, and enhanced appreciation. One can look at the night sky and see little twinkly lights, but telescopes reveal beautiful gas clouds, swirling galaxies and other planetary systems. Each new answer often leads to previously unimagined questions, marvels, and mysteries.
Discussion is an exchange of knowledge; an argument an exchange of ignorance.
If someone refuses to listen to music because they listened once and hated it, you might encourage them to listen to other types of music, hoping they'll find something they really enjoy. You might try to educate them by sharing things you enjoy about your favorite music. You might even tell them they're missing something wonderful that will enhance their life. We can't all discover life-enhancing scientific breakthroughs, but we can share in the process by learning and understanding. Science isn't just grammar and spelling, but also poetry and literature.
... fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Ignorance is a luxury few can afford.
Ignorance isn't bliss when something goes wrong. You may find yourself in a precarious situation where nothing you try helps, or at the mercy of someone who merely claims to know, which can get quite expensive. Without some knowledge, it's difficult to choose an advisor, or even know which advice to trust. Nobody can be an expert in everything, but it helps to at least know something about professional certifications and licenses, and qualified, impartial third parties who can recommend an appropriate expert.
None of this eliminates the possibility of truly random occurrences, but how can we tell? There's always the chance that with just a little more information, a seemingly random event might become predictable.
An apology should be as much about future as about the past. Apologies should show remorse for a past action, but must also offer some assurance that it won't happen again. Does the apology indicate concern about some act now recognized to be wrong or inappropriate, or does it merely express sorrow about being caught and a desire to avoid criticism or punishment in the future?
This is similar to the old problem of the rose-colored glasses. Suppose you receive a pair of rose-colored glasses as a gift. You put them on and look around. Everybody in the room looks rosy. The carpet looks rosy. The refrigerator looks rosy. Even the dog looks rosy. You walk outside. Everything looks rosy. How many things must you look at before you can be certain that the next thing you see will also look rosy?
If the only way to know was past experience, you might never be absolutely certain. After all, you don't know what the next object might be. What if it's an identical pair of rose-colored glasses?
Carefully studying the glasses themselves is another approach. Learning about light and how colored filters affect it can tell you what's likely to happen before actually wearing the glasses. Learning these things requires certain types of experience and experimental verification, but as your knowledge increases, so does the certainty about what will happen next.
People aren't as simple as a pair of glasses, but various types of people tend to have certain perceptual "filters".
Must a doctor suffer a serious heart attack to be qualified to treat someone else's heart?
How could you convice someone else that the glasses really make things look rosy if they've never worn those particular glasses?
Once upon a time, two designers decided to have a competition to see who was the most intelligent. One designer created a world with beautiful geologic formations and living things that stayed the same eon after eon. Occasionally something got out of balance and the designer had to intervene to keep the whole creation from falling apart. It persisted, but was rather boring as nothing ever changed.
The other designer created a dynamic world with constantly changing weather patterns, continents drifting about, glaciers advancing and retreating, sea levels rising and falling and mountains alternately rising and crumbling to dust. Through it all, the creatures adapted and developed new capabilities to deal with each new challenge presented by their ever-changing world. All these things were created so ingeniously that this world maintained itself with no further intervention from its designer. The sophisticated, surprising changes and infinite intricacies filled everyone with a sense of awe and wonder while offering endless challenges to anyone willing to watch and learn.
Who should win this competition and be declared the most intelligent designer?
These possibilities suggest several questions to ask:
It's possible that even after getting reasonable answers to all the above questions, the dispute remains. Science thrives on controversy and uncertainty. Sometimes there just isn't enough information and additional research may help clarify things. Also, scientists sometimes make mistakes, but the scientific process itself tends to correct any mistakes and approach the truth once enough reliable information becomes available.
Patriotism is not loyalty to a person, icon or symbol. Even the most eloquent speech can only make someone a potential patriot. True patriots identify themselves with actions that honor fundamental ideals, principles, or cultural traditions. Ask "what is really honored by this persons actions?" If the answer is something vague or abstract such as "a homeland", follow up with "what makes this homeland special and worthy of honor?" Is this action really the best way to bestow honor? What additional actions would be appropriate? If you're not satisfied with the answers, the person in question may be merely a scoundrel.
Accepting an idea only because it's new, different, or politically correct might be just empty-headed.
It isn't what we don't know that gives us trouble, it's what we know that ain't
Do any 2 trees look exactly alike? Could you recognize a tree if you only see a part of it in a picture? If a tree falls in the forest, would you cover your ears? Most people have a concept of "treeness", or what all trees ought to be like, which might include a trunk, branches, leaves and bark. Could we even have a concept of trees without generalizing in some way? If we considered every detail of each tree, without any generalizations, we might conclude that each tree is a unique object and miss the broader relationships between all trees. Our language and communication would probably be quite different without such abstract concepts.
What does the above picture resemble? If you can't think of at least 5 things, ask the nearest preschooler for help. Such imagination might not be possible without generalizations and abstract concepts of what something ought to look like.
When young child hears a favorite story read for the twentieth time, and the reader changes or adds anything, the child might speak up and remind the reader of how the story is "supposed to go".
Parents are usually quite pleased when their children absorb the parent's method of prayer, diet, clothing, or anything else that defines the parent's culture, religion, or way of life.
A group of young children may pick on, or make fun of, one who is different in some way, or just new to the group. The children were probably not taught to act this way, and parents often correct such behavior.
Generalizing, filling in details with our imagination, and knowing how something is supposed to be is part of who we are. Never making any generalizations would make it more difficult to function in a complex world, but we need to recognize preconceptions for what they are. Continually reexamining our preconceptions can help avoid unnecessary, irrelevant, or even dangerous prejudgments. An occasional second opinion might also be helpful.
Look carefully at several trees. Consider how they have much in common, and how each is unique. Read a story a little differently each time. Use your imagination to fill in, and occasionally change, details. How tall are the characters? Do they like broccoli? How do these changes affect the story? Explore and have fun. Celebrate differences and possibilities.
Follow what the leader stands for, not the person. People may belong to cliques, gangs, religions, cults, families, societies, companies and fan clubs, each with it's own purposes and goals. Sometimes there's a common goal or a greater purpose. Other times, simply belonging might be enough, in which case there's little need for a leader. Understand what you want and expect, and ask questions if the leader's methods or objectives seem to conflict with your personal beliefs or goals.
Idealistic goals may get dismissed as noble, but not practical. Idealism can be admirable when striving toward a lofty goal, but an oversimplified agenda may be disruptive if based on a limited understanding of the problem, or the means of solving the problem. We can accept that some things exist right now, but we don't have to accept them as inevitable, necessary or desirable. Don't give up on the ideal as an ultimate end. It might not be instantly available, but think of the "practical limits" as obstacles requiring long-term effort. Before settling, consider:
It's not always easy to know what someone really wants, as people sometimes ask for a potential means to an end rather than the end itself. When someone says they need more money, they probably want whatever it is they intend to spend the money on, and even that could be just a means to the real goal. Money could be a means to buy a car, which would be reliable transportation to a job. A bus pass or car pool might provide adequate transportation at a much lower cost. It's important to know what you really want, and how you will measure progress toward your true goal. Objective measurement along the way could provide new information and might reveal flaws that need correcting.
Your problem probably isn't unique. Learn from the experiences and mistakes of others. Specific circumstances vary, but a careful examination of the differences can be useful in finding a solution that's close enough.
Imagine yourself being the one giving advice, with everyone adopting your solution and possibly using it against you. Carefully consider the qualifications you might place on your recommended solution, and specific circumstances that might require an alternate solution.
If the problem is adversarial, you'll need a way to monitor what others are doing. The situation is likely to change as your opponents implement their solution, so constant reevaluation becomes extremely important. As you might need assistance from others, it's a good idea to evaluate the situation from the position of your associates and consider the conditions under which they might withhold support, or even change sides.
People love to criticize and find faults. Sometimes it's just nitpicking for the sake of argument, but it could also be a source of free research. Don't be too quick to dismiss opposition, especially from someone you may need later.
If more than one person is involved, are they all equally responsible? Is it reasonable or necessary to treat everyone involved the same way?
Focus on the goal, not your proposed solution. People sometimes become attached to a specific solution and lose sight of the ultimate goal. Whenever something changes, or more information becomes available, it's usually worthwhile to reevaluate the solution and the goal. When implementing a specific solution, try to provide enough flexibility to transition to an alternate solution if necessary. The solution to a problem should be a process, not an end in itself. People often claim that "right" is on their side, but a more helpful question may be, "Am I on the side of 'right'?"
One morning, they were surprised to see a shiny new label on the machine that simply read, "Hello, my name is Bob". Nobody knew how the label got there, but at last here was an explanation. It's Bob! Someone asked how Bob could possibly fit inside the box along with all those oranges? It's a mystery, but what other explanation could there be? Where does Bob get all those oranges? It's a mystery, but what other explanation could there be? What does Bob do with all the money? It's a mystery, but what other explanation could there be? Does Bob eat anything but oranges? It's a mystery, but what other explanation could there be?
Soon the people were divided into factions. Some believed Bob was inside the machine, somehow transforming coins into oranges. Others believed Bob wasn't actually inside, but somehow controlled the machine from a comfortable vantage point. Another group believed that Bob simply built the machine and was now long gone. They argued passionately, but at least they all agreed on one thing - It's Bob!
When you suspect that someone is stubbornly clinging to an unsubstantiated opinion, you might ask, "why do they hold and perpetuate that opinion?" Some possible answers to consider are:
Does this opinion have any useful consequences? How does believing that the earth is flat help while traveling around the world? How does such a belief help to understand or accomplish anything?
Other, less innocent factors may also sneak through.
After a lengthy discussion about how many eyes and ears a horse needs, some committee members might say, "We went along with you on 2 eyes and 2 ears, so now you have to go along with us and give the horse 3 legs". It shouldn't be a matter of one person "going along" or agreeing with another. Ideally, everybody should be in agreement with whatever is most beneficial to the horse, or the horse's owner. There are valid reasons for giving a horse 2 ears and 2 eyes, but much less compelling arguments for a 3-legged horse.
How much should a horse eat? Some committee members say 5 pounds of oats per day, others say 80. It might seem tempting to split the difference, or vote for one or the other, but how does either choice benefit the horse or the horse's owner? Some say a horse that only eats 5 pounds of oats will be cheap to feed. Others say such a horse won't be strong enough for many jobs, and still others say a horse that eats lots of oats will boost profits for their friends and relatives who happen to be farmers. If the committee really wants to stray from their horse-designing mission and help farmers, there may be better ways that have nothing to do with feeding horses. These are two separate issues that should be discussed separately. More importantly, why even discuss how much a horse should eat? Food is basically an energy source. Once the committee determines how much work to expect from one horse, nutritional requirements should follow easily. Those needing more power can use several horses together, and those only needing the power of a single horse shouldn't have to buy excess oats.
Sometimes unavoidable ambiguities make agreement difficult. Carefully considering potential consequences can become important. Some questions to ask are:
Members objecting to the solution might be assigned as "lookouts" for signs of trouble.
Some committee members might represent a larger group and vote according to their group's desires. These representatives should present the concerns of their group to the entire committee, and help the committee understand and consider those concerns, but vote in the best interest of the committee's objective. If the final decision conflicts with the group's interests, the representative can help the group understand why the committee made that decision and how everyone benefits.
Traditional "yes/no", "one-or-the-other" voting isn't always best if there are more than two choices. Some members 2nd choice might be eliminated, forcing them to settle for a 3rd or 4th choice. Giving everybody multiple votes and allowing them to distribute those votes among all the choices lets voters choose among several desirable (or at least tolerable) choices, and the number of votes they give to each option indicates the strength of their preference. If everybody gets 10 votes, 5 votes assigned to each of 2 choices indicates that both are about equal, while 6 votes given to their top choice, and 2 votes given to their 2nd and 3rd choices indicates a strong preference.
Another option is simply ranking each option in order of preference. If there are 5 options, each member could give their top choice 5 points, their 2nd choice 4 points, etc. Rather than some getting everything, and others getting nothing, most might get their 1st or 2nd choice.
Another option is basically an instant runoff. Everybody gets one vote, but rather than choosing only one candidate, they list all candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority of the first choice votes, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated. Votes are then recounted using the second choice selection of everyone who chose the eliminated candidate as their first choice. The process continues until one candidate gets a majority of the votes.