New Year brings its challenges and to help you start it I have selected
the following to hopefully inspire you as face this Near Year.Advice from St. Francis
renowned founder of the Franciscan order, St. Francis of Assisi
(1182-1226), advised, "Start by doing what's necessary, than do what's
possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
people need to meet the stresses of life in the same way, though we
dislike enduring them. A stormy period in our life can be prelude to a
new spring of life and health, success and happiness. That is, if we
keep our self-confidence and faith in the future.Fear of Failure
African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a
distance greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be
kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3 foot wall. The animals will not
jump if they can not see where their feet will fall.
Some humans are like this, not true risk takers.How Can Bumblebees Fly?
the 1930s a leading zoologist concluded, after careful study that,
according to the laws of aerodynamics, it should be impossible for a
bumblebee to fly. That is because its size, weight, and the shape if its
body are all wrong in relation to its total wingspread.Helplessness Can Be Learned
cultures that depend on elephants for labor and transportation, it's
common to tie untrained elephants by their ankles to a bamboo tree,
using heavy-duty rope.
After three or four days of trying to free
themselves, the elephants give up. From that time on they can be
restrained by tying one leg to a small peg in the ground-something they
surely could escape from with minimal effort. But at the least
resistance, the elephants don't try to get loose; they have learned
helplessness.Reaching Your Full Potential
Flea trainers have observed a predictable and strange habit of fleas while training them.
are trained by putting them in a cardboard box with a top on it. The
fleas will jump up and hit the top of the cardboard box over and over
and over again. As you watch tem jump and hit the lid, something very
interesting becomes obvious. The fleas continue to jump, but they are no
longer jumping high enough to hit the top.
When you take off the
lid, the fleas continue to jump, but they will not jump out of the box.
They won't jump out because they can't jump out. Why? The reason is
simple. They have conditioned themselves to jump just so high. After
they have conditioned themselves to jump just so high, that's all they
Many times, people do the same thing. They restrict
themselves and never reach their full potential. Like fleas, they think
they are doing all they are capable of doing.The Hedgehog and the Fox
essay written many years ago by the philosopher Isaiah Berlin
(1909-1997) was titled "The Hedgehog and the Fox." It contained some
very interesting insights into human behavior.
Berlin divided the
world into two types of people: foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes pursue many
ends, often unrelated and contradictory.
Hedgehogs, on the other
hand, relate everything to a single central vision, a single universal
organizing principle that defines what they think and believe.
can conclude that most people are foxes . . . and that leaders like
Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) are hedgehogs. Reagan had some singular ideas
and never departed from them.Wild Ducks
J. Watson, Jr. (1914-1993) who built IBM into a worldwide power in
computers, loved to retell Kiekegard's (1813-1855) tale about a man who
relished watching the annual flight of wild ducks.
Each year the
man left feed near a nearby lake so the ducks would stop to eat.
However, this encouraged some of the ducks to give up flying south and
they wintered at the lake instead.
In time these ducks grew fat and lazy. Why bother to fly when everything was laid out for them right there?
The moral: You can make wild ducks tame, but you can never make tame ducks wild again.
telling the story, Tom Watson always said he wanted to encourage "wild
ducks" in IBM as an antidote to conformity and bureaucratic
self-satisfaction.BUREAURACYThe Boss Speaks!
most famous FBI chief was J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), who ran the
agency with an iron hand from 1924 to his death In1972. He intimidated
criminals and U.S. Presidents alike for the secret files he kept on
One day, Hoover received a memorandum whose margins were too small for his liking.
In big red letters he scrawled an angry warning across the top: "Watch the borders!"
The next morning, his frightened aides transferred 200 FBI agents to border stations in Canada and Mexico.Bureaucratic Reasoning
is a story, which is perhaps apocryphal but which certainly could have
happened, that the French police were chasing a criminal who fled into a
building in Paris. Their first thought was that they would surround the
building. But they realized that the building was so large, and had so
many exits, that they didn't have enough policemen on the scene to do
that. so they surrounded the building next door, which was small and had
fewer exits.Some Good Business Advise
by Fortune Magazine what was the best advice she had ever received in
business. Anne Mulcahy (1952- ), chief executive officer of Xerox, said
it occurred at a breakfast meeting in Dallas, to which she had invited a
group of business leaders. One of them, a plainspoken, self-made,
streetwise guy, came up to Mulcahy and said:
"When everything gets really complicated and you feel overwhelmed, think about it this way. You gotta do three things.
"First, get the cow out of the ditch.
"Second, find out how the cow got into the ditch.
"Third, make sure you do whatever it takes so the cow doesn't go into the ditch again."
Mulcahy says this bit of advice has become a mantra at Xerox.Getting Fired Can Be an Opportunity
famous British author Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) used to like to tell
this story. It was about a young Vicar of St. Peter's Church in London,
who, discovering that the church's janitor was illiterate fired him.
the man invested his meager savings in a tiny tobacco shop where he
immediately prospered. He then bought another shop, then another, and
still another until he owned a large chain of tobacco stores all over
Britain. Altogether they were worth a lot of money.
One day, he
dined in a fancy private club with his banker. After an elaborate meal,
and over cognac and cigars, the banker observed, "You've done quite well
for an illiterate man. I wonder where you would be today if you could
read and write."
"That's easy," replied the man, "I'd still be the janitor in St. Peter's Church in Neville Square."Late Bloomer
1860 a 38-year-old man was working as a handyman for his father, a
leather merchant. He kept books, drove wagons, and handled hides for
about $66 a month.
Prior to this menial job, the man had failed
as a soldier, a farmer, and a real estate agent. Most of the people who
knew him had written him off as a failure.
Eight years later, he was President of the United States. The man was Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885).Where Character Comes from
following is from a commencement address given to the Citadel Military
College of South Carolina in 1993 by President Ronald W. Reagan
"The character that takes command in moments of crucial choices has already been determined.
"It has been determined by a thousand other choices made earlier in seemingly unimportant moments.
has been determined by all the little choices of years past-by, all
those times when the voice of conscience was at war with the voice of
temptation, whispering the lie that it really doesn't matter.
has been determined by all the day-to-day decisions made when life
seemed easy and crises seemed far away - the decisions that, piece by
piece, bit by bit, developed habits of discipline or of laziness, habits
of self-sacrifice or self indulgence, habits of duty and honor and
integrity-or dishonor and shame. "Because, when life does get tough, and
the crises is undeniably at hand-when we must in an instant, look
inward for strength of character to see us through-we will find nothing
inside ourselves that we have not already put there/"Speed of Gossip
has calculated that, if a rumor was started at midday in the office,
and was repeated within two seconds by everyone who heard it to two
other people, who repeated it - and so on, by about six-thirty the same
day, everyone on earth would have heard it.Semantics
same word may have quite different meanings to different hearers. This
is not surprising when you realize that the 500 most commonly used words
in English have 14,070 dictionary meanings.
In the Second World
War, Winston Churchill (1874-1965) tells of a long argument in a meeting
of the British and American Chiefs of Staff Committee. The British
brought in a memo on an important point and proposed to "table" it-which
to them meant to discuss it right away. The Americans protested the
matter must not be tabled, and debate grew quite hot before the
participants realized they all wanted the same thing.
The Courage to Keep Fighting
J. Corbett (1866-1933) was one of America's great prize fighters. Known
as "Gentleman Jim," he defeated John L Sullivan (1858-1918) for the
heavyweight crown in 1892. Here is what he had to say about what it
takes to be a champion:
"Fight one more round. When your feet are
so tired that you have to shuffle back to the center of the ring, fight
one more round. When your arms are so tired that you can hardly lift
your hands to come on guard, fight one more round. When your nose is
bleeding and your eyes are black and you are so tired that you wish your
opponent would crack you one on the jaw and put you to sleep, fight one
more round - remembering that the man who always fight one more round
is never whipped."Why Rome Fell
Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) set forth in his famous book Decline and Fall
of the Roman Empire five basic reasons why that great civilization
withered and died. They were:
The undermining of the dignity and
sanctity of the home, which is the basis for human society. Higher and
higher taxes: the spending of public money for free bread and circuses
for the populace. The mad craze for pleasure, with sports and plays
becoming more exciting, more brutal and more immoral. The building of
great armaments when the real enemy was within - decay of individual
responsibility. The decay of religion, whose leaders lost touch with
life and their power to guide.Making Decisions on Your Own
Lincoln liked to tell this story designed to encourage people to take
action on their own initiative without waiting for orders.
said there was a Colonel, who while organizing his regiment in
Missouri, told his men that he would do all the swearing for the
regiment. The men promised to obey, and for months there was no
violation of the Colonel's order concerning profanity.
regiment had a mule driver named John Todd, who, as roads were not
always the best, had some difficulty in controlling his temper. One day,
John was driving a mule team through a series of mud holes that were
worse than usual when he suddenly filled the air with a volley of
The Colonel heard about the transgression and he brought John to account for his violation of the profanity order.
"John," said the Colonel, "didn't you promise to let me do all the swearing for this regiment?"
I did, sir," said the mule driver, "but the fact was that the swearing
had to be done then or not at all, and you weren't there to do it."Constant Learning
is a famous story about Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (1841-1935), one of
America's most distinguished Supreme Court Justices.
in the hospital one time, when he was over ninety, and President
Roosevelt came to visit him. As the President was ushered into the
hospital room, there was Justice Holmes reading a Greek grammar.
President Roosevelt said, "Why are you reading a Greek grammar, Mr. Holmes?"
And Holmes replied, "To improve my mind, Mr. President."DISCOURAGEMENTDevil's Secret Weapon
is an old-time fable that the devil once held a sale and offered all
the tools of his trade to anyone who would pay their price.
were spread out on the table, each one labeled - hatred, malice, envy,
despair, sickness, sensuality - all the weapons that everyone knows so
But off on one side, apart from the rest, lay a harmless
looking wedge-shaped instrument marked "DISCOURAGEMENT." It was old and
worn looking but it was priced far above all the rest.
the reason why, the devil explained: "Because I can use this one so
much more easily than the others. No one knows that it belongs to me, so
with it I can open doors that are tight bolted against the others. Once
I get inside, I can use any tool that suits me best."Don't Let Failure Discourage You
Many of those who have risen from failure to real achievement haverejected the rejection of this world.
1902, the poetry editor of The Atlantic Monthly returned a sheaf of
poems to a 28-year-old poet with this curt note: Our magazine has no
room for your vigorous verse." The poet was Robert Frost (1874-1963),
who rejected the rejection.
In 1905, the University of Bern
turned down a Ph.D. dissertation as being irrelevant and fanciful. The
young physics student who wrote the dissertation was Albert Einstein
(1874-1955), who rejected the rejection.
In 1894, the rhetoric
teacher at Harrow in England wrote on the 16-year-old's report card, "a
conspicuous lack of success." The 16-year-old was Winston Churchill
(1874-1965), who rejected the rejection.Don't Let Failure Scare You
time to time, life as a leader can look hopeless. After taking a hard
look in the mirror at your leadership, you may be overwhelmed by the
focus on what's needed. To help you, consider a man who lived through
- Failed in business in '31
- Defeated for the legislature in '32
- Again failed in business in '34
- Sweetheart died in '35
- Had a nervous breakdown in '38
- Defeated in election in '38
- Broken marriage engagement in '41
- Defeated for Congress in '43
- Defeated for Congress in '48
- Defeated for Senate in '55
- Defeated for Vice-President in '56
- Defeated for Senate in '58
- Elected President in '60
This man was Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)The Power of Fear
Legend has it that one day a man was walking in the desert when he met Fear and Plague
They said they were on their way to a city to kill 10,000 people.
The man asked Plague if he was going to do all the work.
Plague smiled and said, "No, I'll take care of only a few hundred. I'll let my friend Fear do the rest.How to Combat Panic
Once upon a time a young donkey said, "All you have to do is remember to shake it off and step up."
"What does that mean?" asked the youngster.
The grandfather replied, "Let me tell you a story . . .
when I was your age, I was out walking. I wasn't paying attention and
fell deep into an old abandoned well. I started braying and braying.
Finally an old farmer came by and saw me. I was scared to death. But
then he left. I stayed in that well all night.
The next morning
he came back with a whole group of people, and they looked down at me.
Some of them even laughed. Then the old farmer said, 'The well's
abandoned and that donkey isn't worth saving, so let's get to work.' I
was going to be buried alive!
"After the first shovels of dirt
came down on me, I realized something. Every time dirt landed on my
back, I could shake it off and use it to step up a bit higher! They kept
shoveling, and I kept shaking the dirt off and stepping up. This went
on for some time.
"Shake it off and step up . . . shake it off
and step up . . . I kept repeating to myself for encouragement. I fought
the panic by shaking it off and stepping up. And it wasn't long before I
stepped out of the well, exhausted but triumphant.
"So no matter
how difficult the situation, no matter how bad things get, no matter
how much dirt gets dumped on you, just remember-shake it off and step
up. You'll be alright."GREEDWhose House Are You Building?
is a story of a wealth man who called his servant in and told him that
he was leaving the country for a year and that while he was gone, he
wanted the servant to build him a new house. The wealthy man told him to
build it well, and that when he returned, he would pay all the bills
for material and for his labor.
Shortly after the employer left,
the servant decided that he was foolish to work hard, so he stated
cutting corners and began to squander the money hw saved on personal
When his employer came back, he paid all the
bills, and then asked the servant, "Are you satisfied with the house?"
When the servant said he was, his employer said, "Good, because the
house is yours. You can live in it the rest of your life.
If your life could be compared to a house, are you building the kind of
house that you will be proud to live in forever? Are you cutting
corners and squandering time, commitment, and effort? Are you giving it
your best?HELPING OTHERSKindness to Strangers
he was President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) was
riding across the country on horseback with a group of companions.
mounted party arrived at a river which had flooded the banks during
unusually heavy rains. The resulting flood had even washed the bridge
away, so that the only possible way to cross the swollen river was on
horseback. This would be an extremely dangerous maneuver that could even
result in death by drowning one or more of the riders.
men in Jefferson's party struggled to ford the stream against the raging
waters, an unmounted man stood on the riverbank and watched them with
grave concern for hw he was going to get across the river with no bridge
and no horse. After several of Jefferson's group had successfully made
it to the other side on horseback, the man asked President Jefferson if
he could ride behind him when he and his horse tried to ford the river.
Jefferson agreed and the two men with some difficulty, made it safely
across the raging river.
As the man slid off Jefferson's one of
Jefferson's party asked the stranger if he knew who Jefferson was. And
he asked also why the stranger had chosen him to ask for help on the
On learning that his Good Samaritan was the
President of the United States, the man was shocked and embarrassed.
Then he added, "All I know is that on some of your faces was written the
answer 'No' and on some of your faces was written the answer 'Yes.' His
was a 'Yes' face."Taking Credit
desk of President Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was a small bronze desk
plaque bearing these words: "The way to get things done is not to mind
who gets the credit of doing them." The author of these words was
Benjamin Jowett (1817-1893), Master of Balliol College at Oxford.Negative Thinking
Fulton (1765-1815) in 1807 attracted a large crowd to witness the first
full-scale demonstration of the steamboat on the Hudson River
When he tried to get the engine started, the crowed shouted, "It will never start! It will never start!"
the engine finally did start and the steamboat took off with a flurry
of sparks and heavy smoke, the crowd was silent for a moment-but only
for a moment.
Then it began screaming, "It will never stop! It will never stop!"Good Comeback
Reagan (1911-2004) was speaking to a student audience at the University
of Berkeley when a student got up to say that it was impossible for
people of his generation to understand the next generation of young
"You grew up in a different world," the student said,
"Today, we have television, jet planes, space travel, nuclear energy,
computers . . . "
When the student paused for breath, Reagan said, "your right. We didn't have those things when we were young. We invented them."FREEDOMLoss of Freedom
bitter quarrel arose between the horse and the stag in the days when
both creatures roamed wild in the forest. The horse came to the hunter
to ask him to take his side in the feud.
The hunter agreed, but
added: "If I am to help you punish the stag, you must let me place this
iron bit in your mouth and this saddle upon your back."
was agreeable to the man's conditions and he soon was bridled and
saddled. The hunter sprang into the saddle, and together they soon had
put the stag to flight.
When they returned, the horse said to the
hunter: "Now if you will get off my back and remove the bit and saddle,
I won't require your help any longer."
"Not so fast, friend
horse," replied the hunter. "I have you under bit and spur, and from now
on you shall remain the slave of man."
And that is how the wild horse lost his freedom.Servitude is Man's Natural Condition
Stevenson (1900-1965), an eloquent American politician and diplomat who
once ran for presidential office, said, "If freedom had been the happy,
simple, relaxed state of ordinary humanity, man would have everywhere
been free - whereas through most of time and space he has been in
chains. Do not let us make any mistake about this. The natural
government of man is servitude. Tyranny is the normal pattern of
government."Einstein's Sense of Humor
Einstein's driver used to sit at the back of the hall during each of
his lectures. After a period of time, the driver remarked to the famous
scientist that he could probably give the lecture himself, having heard
it so many times.
So at the next lecture stop, Einstein and
driver switched places, with Einstein sitting at the back dressed in the
drivers' uniform. The driver gave the lecture, flawlessly.
lecture's end, a member of the audience asked a detailed scientific
question about some of the subject matter. Without missing a beat, the
"lecturer" replied, "Well, the answer to that question is so simple,
I'll let my deriver, sitting at the back there, answer it."Naming Something Doesn't Make It So
This is especially apropos to our day
to convince an opponent that his reasoning was faulty, Abraham Lincoln
asked him, "Well, tell me how many legs has a cow?"
"Four, of course," was the quick reply.
"That's right," said Lincoln. "Now suppose we call the cow's tail a leg, how many legs would the cow have?
"Why, five, obviously."
"That's where you are wrong," replied Lincoln, "Simply calling a cow's tail a leg doesn't make it a leg."A Piece of String
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890-1969) used a simple device to illustrate the
art of leadership. Laying an ordinary piece of string on a table, he'd
illustrate how you could easily pull it in any direction.
"However, try and push it," he cautioned, "and it won't go anywhere. It's just that way when it comes to leading people."Have a Happy New Year
DAVESome excerpts from "Wisdom Well Said"