Blog: Some favorite quotes

…for the networking of sustainability

3 March 2016

As this TWOG goes up (usually posted Thursdays at 2 am in Montreal, to appear early in Europe), I will be in Brazil, soon to give a keynote address at the launching of Marina Silva’s Sustainability Network, which is intended to change the politics of the country (as discussed in last week’s TWOG). Despite their problems (discussed the week before), I believe that Brazilians may be the ones to show the way forward in this unbalanced world. With limited time this week to prepare a regular TWOG, I draw on my collection of favourite quotes to help inspire the Network.

Quotes on how we have lost direction

“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” (John Maynard Keynes)

As this TWOG goes up (usually posted Thursdays at 2 am in Montreal, to appear early in Europe), I will be in Brazil, soon to give a keynote address at the launching of Marina Silva’s Sustainability Network, which is intended to change the politics of the country (as discussed in last week’s TWOG). Despite their problems (discussed the week before), I believe that Brazilians may be the ones to show the way forward in this unbalanced world. With limited time this week to prepare a regular TWOG, I draw on my collection of favourite quotes to help inspire the Network.

Quotes on how we have lost direction

“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” (John Maynard Keynes)

Elector, n. “One who enjoys the sacred privilege of voting for the man of another man’s choice.” (The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambroise Bierce, 1906)

Past, n. “That part of Eternity with some small fraction of which we have a slight and regrettable acquaintance. …the Past is the Future of yesterday, the Future is the Past of tomorrow. They are one—the knowledge and the dream. (The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambroise Bierce, 1906)

“It is the dead who govern. Look you, man, how they work their will upon us! Who have made the laws? The dead! Who have made the customs that we obey and that form and shape our lives? The dead! And the titles to our lands? Have not the dead devised them? …. And all the writers, when they would give weight and authority to their opinions, quote the dead; and the orators who preach and lecture¾are not their mouths filled with words that the dead have spoken? Why, man, our lives follow grooves that the dead have run out with their thumbnails!” (M. Davisson Post, in Uncle Abner)

“In theory, you’re trying to find out what the future is going to be like. That’s difficult when the past keeps changing.” (Martin Zimmerman, Chief Economist, Ford Motor Company)

Quotes on our state of imbalance

“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” (The Talmud)

“I can’t say I was ever lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.” (Daniel Boone)

“The mainstream is a current too strong to think in.” (Paul Shepheard, in What is Architecture)

“Be sure you choose what you believe and know why you believe it, because if you don’t choose your beliefs, you may be certain that some belief, and probably not a very credible one, will choose you.” (Robertson Davies, The Manticore)

“If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on.” (Jack Welch)

“It wasn’t a crisis at all; it was the end of an illusion.” (Gerald Weinberg)

Quotes on how to change direction

"lligitimus non carborundum." (loosely translated from the Latin: “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”)

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“I see us free, therefore, to return to some of the most sure and certain principles of religion and traditional virtue¾that avarice is a vice, that the exaction of usury is a misdemeanor, and the love of money is detestable, that those walk most truly in the paths of virtue and sane wisdom who take least thought for the morrow. We shall once more value ends above means and prefer the good to the useful. We shall honour those who can teach us how to pluck the hour and the day virtuously and well, the delightful people who are capable of taking direct enjoyment in things, the lilies of the field who toil not, neither do they spin.” (John Maynard Keynes)

“I’ll see it when I believe it… [Croire c’est voir]) (Karl Weick)

"It’s all so simple, Anjin-san. Just change your concept of the world." (James Clavell, in Shogun)

Quotes on getting to balance

“Dare to be naive.” (R. Buckminster Fuller)

“We will either find a way or make one.” (Hannibal)

“You see things; and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were; and I say ‘Why Not?’”  (George Bernard Shaw)

“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” (Edith Warton)

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable [woman].”  (George Bernard Shaw)

"All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” (Emerson)

“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again, fail again, fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“We are much more likely to act our way into a new way of thinking than to think our way into a new way of acting.” (Karl Weick)

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” (Margaret Mead)

“All change seems impossible, but, once accomplished, it is the state you are no longer in that seems impossible.” (Alain)

And a special quote for Marina

I am now at my full height, which is not very imposing… Fortunately, these are houses of debate where the measurement is from the shoulders up, rather than from the shoulders down. (Tommy Douglas in the Canadian House of Commons)

Collection © Henry Mintzberg 2016 Follow this TWOG on Twitter @mintzberg141, or receive the blogs directly in your inbox by subscribing here.

Some quotes to consider after the horrible events of Paris

19 November 2015

1.    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

2.    “Seek simplicity and distrust it.” (Alfred North Whitehead)

3.    “We will either find a way or make one.” (Hannibal)

4.    “They planned their campaigns just as you might make a splendid piece of harness. It looks very well, and answers very well; until it gets broken; and then you are done for. Now I made my campaigns of ropes. If anything went wrong, I tied a knot, and went on.” (Duke of Wellington)

5.    BUT BE CAREFUL OF:  “When in doubt, use a bigger hammer.” (Dobbin’s Law)

6.    “If everyone is thinking alike, then no-one is thinking.” (Benjamin Franklin)

7.    We had the experience but missed the meaning.” (T.S. Eliot)

8.     “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” (Lao Tzu)

1.    “Be the change you want to see in the world.” (Mahatma Gandhi)

2.    “Seek simplicity and distrust it.” (Alfred North Whitehead)

3.    “We will either find a way or make one.” (Hannibal)

4.    “They planned their campaigns just as you might make a splendid piece of harness. It looks very well, and answers very well; until it gets broken; and then you are done for. Now I made my campaigns of ropes. If anything went wrong, I tied a knot, and went on.” (Duke of Wellington)

5.    BUT BE CAREFUL OF:  “When in doubt, use a bigger hammer.” (Dobbin’s Law)

6.    “If everyone is thinking alike, then no-one is thinking.” (Benjamin Franklin)

7.    We had the experience but missed the meaning.” (T.S. Eliot)

8.     “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” (Lao Tzu)

9.     “Perfection of means and confusion of goals seem in my opinion to characterize our age.” (Albert Einstein)

10.  “Man must remember if he is not to become meaningless, and must forget if he is not to go mad." (McGlashan)

Collection © Henry Mintzberg 2015

Some Amusing Quotes about Quantities

13 August 2015

I am on vacation this week, so let me offer some more from my lifetime collection of quotes, these mostly about quantities.

Yogi Berra, when asked if he would like his pizza cut into four or six pieces, said: “You’d better make it four. I don’t think I can eat six pieces.”

“It is very dangerous to try to leap a chasm in two bounds.” (Chinese Proverb)

“A long range weather forecast should be obtained before leaving, as weather conditions are extremely unpredictable.” (Natal Daily News, June 16, 1982)

Researcher in British Foreign Office from 1903 to 1950: “Year after year the worriers and fretters would come to me with awful predictions of the outbreak of war. I denied it each time. I was only wrong twice.”

“I stood up to be counted and they told me to take a number.”

I am on vacation this week, so let me offer some more from my lifetime collection of quotes, these mostly about quantities.

Yogi Berra, when asked if he would like his pizza cut into four or six pieces, said: “You’d better make it four. I don’t think I can eat six pieces.”

“It is very dangerous to try to leap a chasm in two bounds.” (Chinese Proverb)

“A long range weather forecast should be obtained before leaving, as weather conditions are extremely unpredictable.” (Natal Daily News, June 16, 1982)

Researcher in British Foreign Office from 1903 to 1950: “Year after year the worriers and fretters would come to me with awful predictions of the outbreak of war. I denied it each time. I was only wrong twice.”

“I stood up to be counted and they told me to take a number.”

Tomas (age 7): “How do you become a millionaire?” Laura (age 9): “Millionaires don’t have jobs. Their job is a millionaire.”

“It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.” (Hofstadter’s Law)

“When in doubt, use a bigger hammer.” (Dobbins’ Law)

“I am now at my full height, which is not very imposing (it is five feet six inches). Fortunately, these are houses of debate where the measurement is from the shoulders up, rather than from the shoulders down.” (Tommy Douglas in the Canadian House of Commons)

“He flung himself from the room, flung himself upon his horse, and rode madly off in all directions.”(Stephen Leacock)

“The Clairvoyant Society of Bristol regrets that due to unforeseen events the meeting for tomorrow evening must be cancelled.” (newspaper announcement)

Collection not content  © Henry Mintzberg 2015