First Anniversary Reflections

On the first-year anniversary of my blog I offer heart-felt thanks to YOU for visiting “Clancy’s Quotes.” As I prepare this anniversary issue, together we are closing in on 12,000 page views, which averages out to be 1,000 views per month, 230 views per week, and 33 views per day. I realize that the numbers would increase dramatically if I pandered to the culture with crude humor, naked pictures, and stories about the celebrity du jour. Rest assured that won’t happen on this site.

Occasionally some of you will write to share how a particular quote has touched your soul or was especially timely. While I appreciate it, it’s important for me to remember and acknowledge that the quotations were invented by others. As for the timing, that is either a matter of chance or God’s choice. So, except for the connecting thoughts, I’m just the delivery boy.

Speaking of  deliverers, isn’t it strange how delivering pizza is considered a humble occupation whereas delivering the news is exalted? Delivering people to their destination in a bus is less glamorous than doing the same by airplane. Personally, I appreciate “Matt the pizza delivery man” much more than Katie Couric the news delivery lady (no offense intended).

“The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy…neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.”
— John W. Gardner (1912-2002), president of the Carnegie Corporation.

Humility is a virtue, a very confusing and highly challenging virtue to say the least. I would say that having pride in what we truly accomplish is healthy and is not contradictory to humility. Pride motivates us to continue serving others and improving ourselves.

“You shouldn’t gloat about anything you’ve done; you ought to keep going and find something better to do.”
— David Packard (1912-1996), co-founder of Hewlett-Packard.

Pride gets in the way of humility when we desire credit for more than we deserve and turns ugly when it graduates into grandstanding for that credit.

Some people are born on third base and go through life thinking they hit a triple.
— Barry Switzer (1937- ), American football coach.

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.”
— Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th U.S. President.

Taking credit for God-given talents is wrong. Taking credit for the contributions of others is, too. Both are acts of theft.

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.”
— Malcolm S. Forbes (1919-1990), publisher of Forbes Magazine.

“Humility is to make a right estimate of one’s self.”
— Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), British Reformed Baptist preacher.

Humility is graciously accepting unsolicited praise for one’s accomplishments AND deflecting the appropriate amount of credit toward those who also played a role. Humility is about quietly doing one’s business and enjoying the results whether anyone notices or not.

“A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle.”
— Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), A Founding Father of the U.S.

Back to the quotes. I sometimes imagine becoming a prolific writer of Twain-like memorable and pithy phrases . I once envisioned Mark Twain suddenly standing up in a room full of people with his fist raised to proclaim, “Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” As the oohs and ahs filled the room, he smiled and sat down again. Moments later he arose again to make another proclamation: “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” He bowed to the laughter and applause and sat down again. Hopefully this ridiculous mind video drives home the point that the 208 Mark Twain quotes at http://www.brainyquote.com are really just tiny excerpts isolated from a huge body of work.   Except maybe for Steven Wright, no one sits around thinking up quotes.

“I’m writing an unauthorized autobiography.”
— Steven Wright (1955- ), American comedian, actor, writer.

“If one synchronized swimmer drowns, do all the rest have to drown too?”
— Steven Wright (1955- ), American comedian, actor, writer.

On those rare occasions, when I accidentally think up something that borders on the profound (at least in my own mind) generally no one is around to share it with. This is probably a good thing. Embarrassment comes easily to rookies. Then again, we can only imagine the stupid or bland things Samuel Clemens said or wrote before he became Mark Twain.

The truth is, I am most effective as a delivery boy of other people’s great ideas. You know what? I’m okay with that. Your comments are proof that this approach has value. And as long as something has value it is worth doing and doing well. So, I will continue my best effort to seek out and deliver inspirational and thought-provoking words. And I’ll keep writing for the joy of it whether or not BrainyQuote adds me to their database.

God bless,

— CC

(1809-1865), 16th U.S. President.

Make More Mistakes

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Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. When Lincoln was President, he wore only a tall silk hat. He said, ‘In onion there is strength.’ Abraham Lincoln write the Gettysburg address while traveling from Washington to Gettysburg on the back of an envelope. He also signed the Emasculation Proclamation, and the Fourteenth Amendment gave the ex-Negroes citizenship. But the Clue Clux Clan would torcher and lynch the ex-Negroes and other innocent victims. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.”

— From a compilation of student bloopers and mistakes, attributed to Richard Lederer. (Source: http://www.innocentenglish.com)

Now that you’ve hopefully had a good laugh, let’s get serious about “mistakes.” Human beings are deeply flawed in two respects. First, we make countless mistakes every day. No surprise, right? The curious part is why we harbor fears about making more. Fear of imperfection is the second and far greater flaw.

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” — Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915)

“To avoid situations in which you might make mistakes may be the biggest mistake of all.” — Peter McWilliams, Life 101

 

“If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake.” — Frank Wilczek (1951- )

We fear mistakes because it reveals that we are imperfect.  But, everyone already knows that. So why do we think that makes us look bad?

“While one person hesitates because he feels inferior, the other is busy making mistakes and becoming superior.” — Henry C. Link

“I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks. All that is necessary is not to be afraid of making mistakes, or of appearing naive.” — Abraham Maslow, Psychologist

“Assert your right to make a few mistakes. If people can’t accept your imperfections, that’s their fault.” — Dr. David M. Burns

Mistakes should be welcomed and valued because they are opportunities to learn and improve.

“Mistakes, obviously, show us what needs improving. Without mistakes, how would we know what we had to work on?” — Peter McWilliams, Life 101

“An inventor fails 999 times, and if he succeeds once, he’s in. He treats failures simply as practice shots.” — Charles Franklin Kettering, inventor

What we learn from our mistakes they will guide us and nudge us along the path toward success.

“If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” — Tallulah Bankhead (1903-1968 )

“If I had my life to live over… I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.” — Nadine Stair

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t as all. You can be discouraged by failure – or you can learn from it. So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember, that’s where you will find success.” — Thomas J. Watson

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” — George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)

“It’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune, but just yourself that kept things from you.” — Lillian Hellman (1905-1984)

If we are wise and able to suppress our arrogance, it is also possible to learn from the mistakes of others.

“You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself.” — Sam Levenson (1911-1980)

To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes, the wise and the good learn wisdom for the future.” — Plutarch, Historian

Still, one’s own mistakes handled professionally are the best-learned lessons.

Don’t argue for other people’s weaknesses. Don’t argue for your own. When you make a mistake, admit it, correct it, and learn from it immediately.” — Stephen R. Covey, Author and Speaker

“It’s always helpful to learn from your mistakes because then your mistakes seem worthwhile.” — Garry Marshall, ‘Wake Me When It’s Funny’

There are proper and improper responses to mistakes.

“Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.” — Cullen Hightower

“When you make a mistake, there are only three things you should ever do about it: admit it, learn from it, and don’t repeat it.” — Paul “Bear” Bryant, “I Ain’t Never Been Nothing but a Winner”

History has proven there’s an undeniable connection between mistakes and innovation.

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” — James Joyce (1882-1941)

“He who never made a mistake never made a discovery.” — Samuel Smiles

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” — Steve Jobs

Here’s the lesson. Forgive yourself for your mistakes, then commit to improvement. As long as your intentions were moral and ethical and your efforts were careful and thorough, there is no valid reason to feel guilty about a mistake, even if it caused harm. Of course when harm has occurred the whole matter of forgiveness and reparations must take place. After that, there’s not much else you can do but move on and do better.

“How unhappy is he who cannot forgive himself.” — Publilius Syrus (~100 BC)

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” — Norman Cousins (1915-1990)

“Forgiveness does not always lead to a healed relationship. Some people are not capable of love, and it might be wise to let them go along with your anger. Wish them well, and let them go their way.” — Real Live Preacher, RealLivePreacher.com Weblog, July 7, 2003

The worst thing is to allow one mistake to turn into more.

“A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it, is committing another mistake.” — Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC)

“If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford (1893-1979)

Accepting our limits and imperfections as humans is not the same as being cavalier about mistakes. Errors are inevitable and they are serious business. Learning to deal properly with mistakes is the mark of a professional.

“Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life” — Sophia Loren

God bless,

— CC

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