Prior Quotes of the Week

thru September 27, 1998

(books may be ordered through our online knOwhere store)

Quote of the Week (1998.09.27)
The Experience is the Economy 

Proceeding eighty miles into the northwest wind, you reach the city of Euphemia, where the merchants of seven nations gather at every solstice and equinox. The boat that lands there with a cargo of ginger and cotton will sail again, its hold filled with pistachio nuts and poppy seeds, and the caravan that has just unloaded sacks of nutmegs and raisins is already cramming its saddlebags with bolts of golden muslin for the return journey. But what drives men to travel up rivers and cross deserts to come here is not only the exchange of wares, which you could find, everywhere the same, in all the bizaars inside and outside the Great Kahn's empire, scattered at your feet on the same yellow mats, in the shade of the same awnings protecting them from the flies, offered with the same lying reduction in prices. You do not come to Euphemia only to buy and sell, but also because at night, by the fires all around the market, seated on sacks or barrels or stretched out on piles of carpets, each word that one man says–such as "wolf," "sister," "hidden treasure," "battle," "scabies," "lovers"–the others tell, each one, his tale of wolves, sisters, treasures, scabies, lovers, battles. And you know that in the long journey ahead of you, when to keep awake against the camel's swaying or the junk's rocking, you start summoning up your memories one by one, your wolf will have become another wolf, your sister a different sister, you battles other battles, on your return from Euphemia, the city where memory is traded at every solstice and at every equinox.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
pp. 36 - 37, A Harvest Book, 1972

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Quote of the Week (1998.09.20)
Walk With Beauty All Around You

It was evening. The sun had gone under some clouds that were golden and white. Grizzly Bear raised his eyes to look at the sunset, and then told a story. He was traveling in this country once, all alone, he said, and he was starving. It had been a long moon since he had eaten. He was so weak he was barely able to walk. One evening, very much like this one, he said, he was lying in a draw and he saw a flock of geese fly across the face of the sun.

"It was only a moment," said Grizzly Bear, "but it was so beautiful it went straight into my heart. I got up and went on. In the last light that day I found what I was looking for. With my last strength I accepted the life of that animal. I ate and then I slept. I ate and slept again and then I was able to go on."

"Sometimes it is what is beautiful that carries you," said Weasel weakly from his bed.

"Yes. It can carry you to the end. It is your relationship to what is beautiful, not the beautiful thing by itself, that carries you," said Grizzly Bear. . . .

"Sleep, my friends," said Grizzly Bear. "When you awaken in the morning, you will be strong enough to travel. I will feed your horses before I go. Remember me."

"Wah-hey," said Weasel faintly. "Holiness."

"My friend!" Crow cried out. "Wait! What can we give you?"

"You can give me nothing, Crow. I feel your gratitude. That is enough." Grizzly Bear paused. Then he said, "Be kind."

"May you travel safely, my brother."

"Wah-hey," said Grizzly Bear, and he was gone.

Barry Lopez, with illustrations by Tom Pohrt
Crow and Weasel
pp. 70-71, A Sunburst Book, 1990

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Quote of the Week (1998.09.13)
The Bottom Line

Whether you stay or leave [your job], "you have to have a strong core foundation of who you are, what you believe in, and how you apply your beliefs everywhere in your life," comments Annette Veatch. "You can't have a different value system for work and for home. Or you're going to become horribly frustrated and confused."

In one of his reflective letters, Jerry Meyer continued a discussion: "How do you keep your soul? By deciding that you're going to keep your soul come hell or high water. Most people never draw the line. They make one small compromise after another, and lose their souls without even knowing they have done so. My advice to a very young person would be to stick with things (and pursue only those options) that don't entail painful, humiliating compromises. Eventually you will find yourself established in a line of work in which the soul can survive."

Meyer has probably read Emerson--at least his 1837 Phi Beta Kappa address, that gave early warning how "young men of the fairest promise . . . are hindered from action by the disgust which the principles on which business is managed inspire, and turn drudges, or die of disgust, some of them suicides . . . . [Yet] if the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him."

Emerson's stubborn fidelity is tough to enact in today's fluid environment. We have all become consummate actors, image-makers capable of feigning, compromising, and sending huge parts of our true selves underground. Sometimes it's necessary. But we should probably use about one-tenth of our compromising for our own values, and save the rest of it to tolerate each other's very different notions.

Instead, we often use up all our flexibility adjusting to conditions that go against the grain of our deepest beliefs. In small, imperceptible increments, we begin compromising more of ourselves than we ever intended. One part of us keeps a set of behaviors and rules for work; the other part keeps a different set. We become "two different people" at work and at home. We lose integrity, in the most basic sense of the word.

Jeannette Batz
Half Life: What We Give Up To Work
pp. 161-162, Virginia Publishing, 1993

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Quote of the Week (1998.09.06)
The Heart, Home and Courage

It is an old story, from the time of the animal people. Coyote was in his canoe, and had paddled all day and all night, only to find that he didn't know where he wanted to go. He sat in his canoe, drifting for a while, thinking that something was wrong. He wanted to do something, but he didn't know what it was, so he made some mountains and gave them names. But that didn't make him happy. He tried to think, but he wasn't very good at it, and he kept hearing a thumping noise that bothered him.
"Where should I go? What should I do? How can I think with all this noise?"
Coyote was becoming sad because he could not think, so he called out to the Old Mother, who was the Earth.
"Old Mother," he said. "Can you stop this thumping noise so I can figure out where I am supposed to be?"
Old Mother heard Coyote and laughed at him. "Silly Coyote," she said. "That thumping noise is the sound of your own heart beating. Listen to it. It is the sound of the drums. When you hear your heart you must think of the drums--and the sound of home."
"I knew that," Coyote said.

. . . Coyote went to the bedroom window and stared out. Without turning he said, "Do you know about the Crows who scouted for General Custer?"
Sam didn't answer.
"When they told Custer that ten thousand Lakota and Cheyenne warriors were waiting for him at the Little Bighorn he called them liars and rode on. The Crow scouts didn't owe Custer anything, but they painted their faces black and said, 'Today is a good day to die.'"
"The point?" Sam bristled.
"The point is that you will never know what they knew--that courage is its own reward." . . .

Christopher Moore
Coyote Blue
pp. 261, 181, Avon Books, 1994


Quote of the Week (1998.08.30)
Managing for Corporate Creativity

"A company is creative when its employees do something new and potentially useful without being directly shown or taught.

The tangible results of corporate creativity, so vital for long-term survival and success, are improvements (changes to what is already done) and innovations (entirely new activities for the company). As one would expect, most creative acts are improvements.

"None of the improvements or innovations we have described so far were the result of a management plan. Moreover, all of them were brought about by people whom no one--including management and even the creators themselves--had previously identified as being particularly creative. . . .

"These examples and all the many others we looked at have led us to a critical realization about the true nature of corporate creativity. Most creative acts are not planned for and come from where they are least expected. Nobody can predict who will be involved in them, what they will be, when they will occur, or how they will happen. But this does not mean that nothing can be done. We believe that companies can dramatically increase their creative performance once they recognize the nature of their creativity and learn how to actively promote unanticipated improvements and innovations. It is here that the richest potential for promoting corporate creativity really lies. As far as creativity is concerned, the power is indeed in the unexpected.

"In every unexpected creative act that we have studied, six elements played a role, . . .

1. Alignment
2. Self-initiated activity
3. Unofficial activity
4. Serendipity
5. Diverse stimuli
6. Within-company communication"

Alan G. Robinson & Sam Stern
Corporate Creativity: How Innovation and Improvement Actually Happen
pp. 11-12, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., 1997

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Quote of the Week (1998.08.23)
The Changemaker

"No change ever succeeded without talented leadership, whether at the top levels of an organization or at the team level. But the definition of leadership varies crazily from place to place. It varies from the dynamic (lead rhyming with deed) to the static (lead with the atomic symbol Pb).

"Larry Bossidy, CEO of Allied Signal and coiner of the 'burning platform' metaphor, qualifies as the former. Any number of CEOs who pursue connect-the-dots restructuring strategies, fail like all the others, and are sent packing like all the others, their pockets stuffed with stock options, qualify as the latter.

"The key figure in successful organizational change is the changemaker. Changemakers may be CEOs or managers, team leaders or team members. They are individuals who not only champion the idea but also help steward it through the organizational ranks. A changemaker may have little position power. What is essential, however, is power of personality. Not charisma or personal dynamism; the greatest changemakers are often a little dull. We are talking about the powers of commitment, integrity, and consideration that can provide great leverage to even a shaky idea. . . .

"If your team or organization is living in the present, the changemaker lives a week or a year in the future, relaying descriptions of what lies ahead. Most important, the changemaker creates a pathway people can follow, to bring them out of the wilderness and into the promised land."

Harvey Robbins and Michael Finley
Why Change Doesn't Work: Why Initiatives Go Wrong and How to Try Again--and Succeed
pp. 104-105, Peterson's, 1996

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Quote of the Week (1998.08.16)

"My investigation has convinced me that our contemporary dilemma in American business is not the result of our needing to be more pragmatic (as some have suggested), but of our having practiced the wrong version of pragmatism. The conventional version--"Do whatever works"--is erroneous, and has gotten us into our present impasse, with its short-term, reactive, tactical thinking distorted by the filters of dualism, individualism, ethical blindness, and the machine model of business.

"A pragmatism reclaimed from its originator, Charles S. Peirce, holds a way out for us. In its Corporantes Pathfinder Notebook form, pragmatism is a way for people to discover and tell their stories and exchange their beliefs, based on and discovered through their life experiences. Stories are one of the most powerful forms of reading the signs. . . .

"By telling a story, an individual comes to see what he or she is becoming and where his or her life is heading. We can see more clearly the plan for our lives through the stories we share. Through exchanging stories we come to realize our own story is a part of a much larger one, so that we are part of, and responding to, a larger calling. . . .

"Peirce called listening to the 'still, small voice' musement. 'With your eyes open,' he said, 'awake to what is about or within you, open to conversation with yourself for such is all meditation.'"

F. Byron Nahser
Learning to Read the Signs: Reclaiming Pragmatism in Business
pp. 152-153, Butterworth Heinemann, 1995

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Quote of the Week (1998.08.09)
Poisoned or Preserved by Belief

"It used to be that the brain and the immune system were two separate worlds. The brain's hormones and chemical transmitters simply did not talk to the T-lymphocytes, killer cells, helper cells, macrophages, et cetera, that make up the immune system. It was as if brain chemicals spoke German and immunological proteins spoke Cherokee. Or so everyone believed until a group of rats in Rochester, New York, enlightened us.

"In a standard taste-aversion experiment, the rats had been conditioned to dislike the taste of a harmless sweetener when it was paired with a drug that caused stomachache. But what no one had figured on was that the stomachache drug, cyclophosphamide, also damaged the immune system. Later some rats died, and their mortality rate turned out to be proportional not to cyclophosphamide but to the amount of sweetened water they drank. This made no sense at all, and it set psychologist Robert Ader to thinking.

"'Since I didn't "know" there was no connection between the brain and immune system, I was free to make up any theory,' recalls Ader. 'I said it was possible that while I was conditioning the taste aversion I was conditioning immunosuppression, and the mice might have become more susceptible to pathogens in the environment.' Every time the conditioned mice drank saccharin, in other words, they thought they were drinking cyclophosphamide. This thought weakened their immune systems and left them defenseless against bacteria and viruses. The rats had been killed by their beliefs! . . .

"'It's all one system,' says Candace Pert, a leading neuroscientist who has turned to immunology and become a prominent AIDS researcher. When she located receptors for opiates and other neurochemicals on the surface of immune cells, Pert began to wonder anew about the location of the mind. 'I can't relate to the mind/body dichotomy anymore,' she told us. 'Is consciousness in your head? No, it's in your whole body. I no longer believe in disease at all. Disease is a hundred percent mental. It's just your brain state being reflected in your body.'"

Judith Hooper and Dick Teresi
The 3-Pound Universe: Revolutionary Discoveries about the Brain--From the Chemistry of the Mind to the New Frontiers of the Soul
pp. xvi-xvii, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1992

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Quote of the Week (1998.08.02)
The Dangerous Opportunity

"Although the purpose of education is to develop human potential, the achievements of genius remind us that few people use more than a fraction of that potential. It usually takes a crisis, within or without, to bring latent talent to the surface. In Japanese, a crisis (kiki) is known as a dangerous opportunity. If we focus on the negative aspects of a situation, it defeats us. If we focus on the positive aspects, then it integrates our strength, and brings out the best in us.

"The problem is that under pressure, we are likely to respond automatically, according to our subconscious habits. If we are accustomed to working, thinking or playing at only a fraction of our potential, then we should not expect to do our best in a crisis. Most of our educational and work standards are set so low that daily life seldom provides the challenges necessary for growth. Though the opportunities may be available, there is not often much social support to pursue them. The only way to integrate and develop your latent strengths is to practice solving problems, until coordination of mind and body becomes second nature.

"In other words, it is possible to improve yourself by practicing a discipline which is too difficult to take casually, yet tangible enough to provide feedback and practical results. . . .

"In both East and West, the modern world is highly materialistic. People pursue that which they can see, grasp, or use. Put another way, people only have eyes for the obvious. Confucius said that if a man takes no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand. Much of what eludes our conscious attention is just as real, and may be more important. If you can only see what everyone else sees, then you walk about with cultural blinders. The creative mind is more at home with the subtle and the unseen, because these are the contours of things to come. But the creative mind is not satisfied merely imagining things unseen; it is driven to make them visible. This is as true in the arts as it is in engineering, business, or any other field depending on creative endeavor.

"Emerson reminded us that in every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts. We ask ourselves, "Why didn't I think of that?" A more provocative question is, "Why didn't I do that?" Often, the reason we do not act on our creative impulses is that we lack the tremendous energy it takes to create. A person whose mind and body are divided lacks the concentration, intensity, and strength to create. Effective performance requires correct posture and a relaxed bearing, with the mind calm and focused on the task at hand. Slouching in a chair may provide relief from fatigue, but it also drains you of the motivation to act. Trying to do too many things at once may give you a feeling of activity, but a busy mind may be too scattered to be productive. Only when the mind and body are integrated and focused on the task at hand, is there enough creative energy to overcome the inertia of the divided self. Art gives us the discipline to develop this creative energy."

William Reed
Shodo: The Art of Coordinating Mind, Body and Brush
pp. 13-14, Japan Publications, Inc., 1989

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Quote of the Week (1998.07.26)
The Path of Least Resistance

"Act without action; work without effort.
Taste without savoring.
Magnify the small; increase the few.
Repay ill-will with kindness.

Plan the difficult when it is easy;
Handle the big where it is small.
The world's largest effort begins where it is small.
Evolved Individuals, finally, take no great action,
And in that way the great is achieved.

Those who commit easily, inspire little trust.
How easy to inspire hardness!
Therefore Evolved Individuals view all as difficult.
Finally they have no difficulty!

"When Evolved Individuals must influence an ongoing process they will direct their energy toward its weakest and most receptive area. Once their influence is absorbed, they know that the weakness will move to another location. They follow. Never do they find themselves in a direct confrontation with a formidable problem. Just as a river finds its way through a valley of boulders, Evolved Individuals work their way around areas of resistance, knowing that they will ultimately wear them down. Thus an entire process can be influenced and controlled with small, nonconfrontive actions. Because Evolved Individuals are serious minded, they inspire trust and break down resistance; because they are subtle, their actions are appropriately restrained and do not interfere with the natural cycle of events. In this way they avoid counter-reactions and achieve their aims."

The Tao of Power: Lao Tzu's Classic Guide to Leadership, Influence, and Excellence
Tetragram 63, Doubleday, 1986

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Quote of the Week (1998.07.19)
The Guide From the Den

". . . we inhabit a spiritual twilight on this planet. It is perhaps the most poignant of all the deprivations to which man has been exposed by nature. I have said deprivation, but perhaps I should rather maintain that this feeling of loss is an unrealized anticipation. We imagine we are day creatures, but we grope in a lawless and smoky realm toward an exit that eludes us. We appear to know instinctively that such an exit exists.

"I am not the first man to have lost his way only to find, if not a gate, a mysterious hole in a hedge that a child would know at once led to some other dimension at the world's end. Such passageways exist, or man would not be here. Not for nothing did Santayana once contend that life is a movement from the forgotten into the unexpected.

"As adults, we are preoccupied with living. As a consequence, we see little. At the approach of age some men look about them at last and discover the hole in the hedge leading to the unforeseen. By then, there is frequently no child companion to lead them safely through. After one or two experiences of getting impaled on thorns, the most persistent individual is apt to withdraw and to asert angrily that no such opening exists.

"My experience has been quite the opposite, but I have been fortunate. After several unsuccessful but tantalizing trials, which I intend to disclose, I had the help, not of a child, but of a creature--a creature who, appropriately, came out of a quite unremarkable prosaic den. There was nothing, in retrospect, at all mysterious or unreal about him. Nevertheless, the creature was baffling, just as, I suppose, to animals, man himself is baffling."

Well, you didn't expect me to give the whole story away, did you? ;-) You'll just have to read the book to find out what happens! Order a copy today.

Loren Eiseley
The Star Thrower
p. 54, HBJ, 1978

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Quote of the Week (1998.07.12)
Values and Words

"Last year, I was at the Colorado River with a friend when two men from the Department of Fish and Wildlife came to stock the water with rainbow trout. We wanted to watch the silver-sided fish find their way to freedom in the water, so we stood quietly by as the men climbed into the truck bed and opened the tank that held fish. To our dismay, the men did not use the nets they carried with them to unload the fish. Instead they poured the fish into the bed of their truck, kicked them out and down the hill, and then into water. The fish that survived were motionless, shocked, gill slits barely moving, skin hanging off the wounds. At most, it would have taken only a few minutes longer for the men to have removed the fish carefully with their nets, to have treated the lives they handled with dignity and respect, with caretakers' hands.

"These actions, all of them, must be what Bushman people mean when they say a person is far-hearted. This far-hearted kind of thinking is one we are especially prone to now, with our lives moving so quickly ahead, and it is one that sees life, other lives, as containers for our own uses and not as containers in a greater, holier sense. . . .

"As one of our Indian elders has said, there are laws beyond our human laws, and ways above ours. We have no words for this in our language, or even for our experience of being there. Ours is a language of commerce and trade, of laws that can be bent in order that treaties might be broken, land wounded beyond healing. It is a language that is limited, emotionally and spiritually, as if it can't accommodate such magical strength and power. . . "

Linda Hogan
Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World
pp. 44-45, W.W. Norton & Company, 1995

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Quote of the Week (1998.07.05)
Play and the Danger of Learning From Experience

"Playing with toys is very different from playing a game or playing in a sport. There is no way to win. The player is simply experimenting with an object that in some way represents reality. This brought home the difference between play and games. Play is experimenting with a toy that the player accepts as representing his or her reality. This makes the toy a representation of the real world with which the learner can experiment without having to fear the consequences. Underneath all the fun there is a very serious purpose: playing with one's reality allows one to understand more of the world we live in. To play is to learn.

"Winnicott called these toys 'transitional objects,' because they help the child to transit from one phase in life to the next--from one level of understanding of the world to another. . . .

"When Shell . . . develops a new oilfield in the North Sea, and a new oil drilling platform must be built, we do not experiment with reality! We will not build the structure, put it in 100 meters' depth of seawater and see what happens. Instead, we build a scale model, which we put in a model of the seabed. Then we experiment with such scale models, sometimes for years on end. We subject our 'toy' to all imaginable forces of waves and wind and time, to see what would likely happen. Then, and only then, we build the real thing. . .

"All of these examples should make one thing clear. We know extremely well in business that play is the best method of learning. That's why it never ceases to amaze me that, in most business decision making, 'play' is not even considered as a vehicle for learning. Instead of simulating reality, we 'learn from experience'--we experiment with reality itself . . . .

"We should therefore not be surprised that so many fatal mistakes are made in the change management of companies, or that so many managers have so little time to think because they are constantly engaged in firefighting. To me, this prevalence of mishap is a strong argument for running our companies with the same low tolerance for error in management that we currently employ in the more technical parts of the business."

Arie De Geus
The Living Company: Habits for Survival in a Turbulent Business Environment
pp. 64-66, Harvard Business School Press, 1997

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Other Prior Quotes:

April 5, 1998 through June 28, 1998

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© MG Taylor Corporation, 1995 - 2002

iteration 3.5