Alexander Pope (1688-1744), English poet.
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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
© Copyright October 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com
Series: The ABC’s of Professionalism
Here’s a little-used word in business — grace. Except in religious and artistic circles it’s kind of an old-fashioned word.
Sports analysts like to talk about intangibles, which are those miscellaneous factors that influence the outcome of games. Intangibles are always present. But it’s only when the game stats belie the outcome that we look for the intangibles. In sports as in other ventures, intangibles are hard to predict, hard to quantify and hard to describe because they are less obvious. In life, grace is one of those intangibles that can be a difference maker.
“Virtue and genuine graces in themselves speak what no words can utter.” — William Shakespeare
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley
Grace Means Being Charming and Refined
The once familiar concept of “ladies and gentlemen” is becoming more and more passé in favor of rude, vulgar and obnoxious public behavior as promoted through television programs like “Married With Children,” “The Simpson’s” and “Roseanne”. These shows are meant to be funny and perhaps they are in a childish sort of way. The blogosphere is another venue where professionalism is being pushed aside by those who seek attention the only way they know — a tantrum of words. The good news is that it is easy to stand out as a professional when the majority has chosen another path.
“I seek constantly to improve my manners and graces, for they are the sugar to which all are attracted.” — Og Mandino (1923-1996)
“We require from buildings, as from men, two kinds of goodness: first, the doing their practical duty well: then that they be graceful and pleasing in doing it; which last is itself another form of duty.” — John Ruskin (1819-1900), The Stones of Venice, 1880
“Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding.” — W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1965), The Painted Veil, 1925
Grace Under Fire
Seeing a leader maintaining composure in the heat of battle (figurative or literal) is both comforting and inspirational. Conversely, who follows a “leader” who “freaks out” in a pressure-packed situation? A leader ceases to be a leader when he panics.
“Always behave like a duck – keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.” — Jacob Braude
“Grace under Pressure.” — Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Grace Means “Quiet Strength”
Because of the way our culture views leadership, grace also has the ability to camouflage more prominent traits of professionalism such as strength. Tony Dungy, a successful [American] football coach, led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl victory in 2007 on a model of strength with grace. Mr. Dungy’s approach refutes the familiar coaching image typified by loudness, boasting and anger. The title of his autobiography, “Quiet Strength,” befits a true professional who exemplifies grace both on and off the football field.
“O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.” — William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Measure for Measure, 1604-1605
“Real strength is not just a condition of one’s muscle, but a tenderness in one’s spirit.” — McCallister Dodds
Grace Means Generosity
True generosity, giving without expecting something in return, is another aspect of grace. Professionalism demands a giving heart.
“Riches may enable us to confer favours, but to confer them with propriety and grace requires a something that riches cannot give.” — Charles Caleb Colton (1780-1832), Lacon, 1825
“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.” — Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
Grace Means Forgiving
Granting and seeking forgiveness may be the hardest parts of grace because they require an incredible measure of humility. We can all take a lesson from children.
“No one forgives with more grace and love than a child.” — Real Live Preacher, Weblog, 02-15-06
By the Grace of God
Everyone is here on Planet Earth at the pleasure of God. Our talents, resources and our very lives are gracious gifts of the creator. God’s presence in our lives, His love and forgiveness too are acts of grace. While it is likely that there are effective leaders who have no belief in God, it is difficult for me to comprehend anyone becoming a complete professional without an attitude of gratitude and actions that reflect the undeserved, amazing grace of God.
“God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.” — Reinhold Niebuhr (1892 – 1971), in a sermon in 1943
“There but for the grace of God go [I]. — John Bradford, Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins
“The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.” — Frederick Buechner
© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com
Most of us harbor regrets, large or small, important or insignificant. Regrets include both things we wish we had done and things we wish we had not. These “things” come in different forms: thoughts, words, and deeds. In all cases, these regrets are mistakes we wish we could undo.
The mistakes I regret most are things I did not do, like passing up the chance to meet Rod Carew when I was 12 years old. I regret times I settled for mediocrity by not giving 100%. I regret not staying in touch with friends and family. Sometimes I regret not speaking out. Other times I regret not keeping quiet.
“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you’ll ever regret.” — Laurence J. Peter
“Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.” — Sidney J. Harris
Mom used to explain to us kids that we had a little voice inside called a conscience that helped us understand the difference between right and wrong. Dad helped us “regret” those times when we ignored the voice (if you know what I mean.) Eventually I grew up and found creative new ways to cause regret.
“When one door closes another door opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” — Alexander Graham Bell
“Life is an adventure in forgiveness.” — Norman Cousins
“Regret for wasted time is more wasted time.” — Mason Cooley
“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” — George Sand (1804 – 1876)
Now the good news. There is a regret remedy called forgiveness. One aspect of forgiveness is that which you grant yourself for not living up to your standards, for making a mistake, for failing and for letting yourself down.
“If you haven’t forgiven yourself something, how can you forgive others?” — Dolores Huerta
“Forgiveness is almost a selfish act because of its immense benefits to the one who forgives.” — Lawana Blackwell, The Dowry of Miss Lydia Clark
“Holding on to anger, resentment and hurt only gives you tense muscles, a headache and a sore jaw from clenching your teeth. Forgiveness gives you back the laughter and the lightness in your life.” — Joan Lunden
One of the most familiar quotes on forgiveness is attributed to Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744):
“To err is human, to forgive divine.”
Then came this sequel from Franklin P. Adams (1881 – 1960):
“To err is human; to forgive, infrequent.”
Finally, in the 1980’s the following was in vogue:
“To err is human; to really foul things up requires a computer.”
Seeking forgiveness for harm caused to others is quite simple in theory — in practice it can be very difficult. The Bible offers the ultimate forgiveness model.
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive those who sin against us.” — Luke 11:4
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” — Colossians 3:13
“Then Peter came to Him and said, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ’I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.’
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done.
“Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.
“So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
— Matthew 18:21-35
© Copyright June 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com