Your Excellency!

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Your Excellency!” Even those who never come in contact with royalty know what these words mean. Well, get used to a brand new meaning because they are now my battle cry for you and a call to arms against the dragons that are impeding your quest toward professional excellence. Maybe your dragons are named “Rut” and “Grudge.” Or maybe they are known as “Pride” and “Rigid.” Thankfully, there are attitudes, behaviors, and principles of professionalism that will equip you to slay them. This post in particular will help sharpen your battle axe and fill any chinks in your armor. Add them to your arsenal and get to work on “Your Excellency!”

Adaptability/Flexibility

Professionals will bend when they need to bend and stand firm when they need to stand firm. The challenge is understanding which attitude is appropriate for which circumstances.

“The definition of insanity is continuing the same behavior and expecting a different result.” — Alcoholics Anonymous

“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.” — Thomas Jefferson

“Stay committed to your decisions but, stay flexible in your approach.” — Tom Robbins

Patience

People who orient their lives around accomplishment, who are driven by achievement, often have to work harder than others to develop patience. Perhaps it’s because when they visualize outcomes, they overlook the blood, sweat, and tears it takes to get there. Maybe it’s because they do not foresee certain challenges or they underestimate the level of effort required.    In any case, without patience, frustration sets in. Patience is a sobering virtue that adds realism to expectations. As long as patience does not become a substitute for action, it is an irreplaceable virtue needed to achieve professionalism.

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” — Saint Augustine

“One moment of patience may ward off great disaster. One moment of impatience may ruin a whole life.” — Chinese proverb

“For everything there is a season,
And a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to throw away;
A time to tear, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate,
A time for war, and a time for peace.”

— Bible, Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Commitment/ Determination/Resolve

One of the worst habits anyone can form is the habit of giving up. When things get difficult, it’s not the time to quit. Struggling through difficulties, trying again and again after multiple failures is where the learning and improvement occur. Success follows failure. In fact, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t growing.

“If at first you succeed, try something harder.” — John C. Maxwell

It’s impossible to predict with 100% certainty which failure will precede success. What is certain is that every time you quit, you are forfeiting success.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” — Japanese Proverb

“There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream.” — Anonymous

Growing up, we had a rule in our family. No one was allowed to quit. It wasn’t as much a rule as it was an understanding. It meant, if I went out for football and made the team, I had to finish the season. If I was injured, I would be expected to sit on the bench (where I spent most of my time anyway) and support my teammates. It was acceptable to not go out the following year. But, finishing meant completing the season.

“Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they’ve got a second.” — William James

Quitting is no minor thing. It always means breaking a promise to one’s self.  It usually means breaking a promise to others, too.  Here’s some food for thought: is quitting also breaking a promise to God?

“Saints are sinners who kept on going.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

Loyalty is another word for commitment, usually referring to a relationship toward a person or a group of people, such as a team or an institution.

“Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life” — Napoleon Hill

An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.” — Elbert Hubbard

“A boy can learn a lot from a dog: obedience, loyalty, and the importance of turning around three times before lying down.” — Robert Benchley

Champions are those who take commitment to an entirely different level. They have a do-or-die attitude. No failure, mistake, or hurdle is bigger than the desire they have to achieve their dreams. When people tell them, “It’s okay, you gave it your all.” they dig deeper and find a little bit more to give. Their dream is bigger than their doubts, fears, pain, and excuses.

“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try it one more time.’” — Anonymous

“Difficult things take a long time, impossible things a little longer.” — Anonymous

“Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did.” — Newt Gingrich

Trying new things is generally a good thing. People should always be willing to get out of their comfort zones for new experiences. However, there is a difference between “trying” and “committing.” Too often people walk away from something and say, “Oh well, I tried.” Did they really try? Or was it a half-hearted attempt? Did they start off with a built-in excuse? They next time you are faced with an opportunity, be resolute. Instead of saying, “I’ll try.” say, “I will!” That’s a commitment.

Assertiveness/Self-Assurance

Being assertive is sometimes confused with being aggressive, pushy, or rude. Once a person understands that ideas, principles, and opinions can be expressed in both a direct and respectful way, he is able to imagine the benefits of professional assertiveness.

“The basic difference between being assertive and being aggressive is how our words and behavior affect the rights and well being of others.” — Sharon Anthony Bower

Assertiveness takes form in all of the ways that define who we are: thoughts, words, and deeds.

“Assertiveness is not what you do, it’s who you are!” — Attributed to Shakti Gawain

While becoming an assertive person is a personal decision, it is also unlikely to be a quick transition. Raw assertiveness tends to grow gradually in direct proportion to increases in confidence.

“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.” — Arthur Ashe

“Self-confidence is the memory of success” — Anonymous

Discretion/Prudence

Professionalism requires assertiveness to be tempered with professional attitudes and behaviors such as kindness, forethought, and patience. With these well in hand, professionals are prepared to balance assertiveness with tact.

“Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.” — Sir Isaac Newton

“Forethought and prudence are the proper qualities of a leader.” — Publius Cornelius Tacitus

“Wit without discretion is a sword in the hand of a fool” — Spanish Proverb

“The better part of valor is discretion, in the which better part I have saved my life” — William Shakespeare

“Discretion in speech is more important than eloquence” — English Proverb

There’s a special instance of discretion that involves appropriate use of private information. Let me be blunt — gossip is not a feature of professionalism.

“What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t witness with your mouth.” — Jewish Proverb

“If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends – you’re safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue.” — Alice Duer Miller

“Whoever gossips to you will gossip about you.” — Spanish Proverb

“Gossip needn’t be false to be evil – there’s a lot of truth that shouldn’t be passed around.” — Frank A. Clark

“Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell.” — Shana Alexander

“There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.”

— Edward Wallis Hoch

Finally, before setting out to slay your personal dragons, there’s a Biblical perspective to take into account.

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;”

— Bible, Ephesians 6:10-17

Armed with these added tools of professionalism, you can be more prepared to someday say to yourself, “Welcome, your excellency!”

God bless,

— CC

[ W=Work | Index | Y=Youth ]

© Copyright February 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Dream Baby, Dream!

The ABC’s of Professionalism

“Cherish your visions and your dreams, as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” — Napoleon Hill

What a powerful thought. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but it seems that the older people get, the less time and effort they devote to dreaming. Even when they do grant a little freedom to the right side of their brains, the images tend to be constrained by fears, doubts, and the “realities” that they’ve constructed for themselves. Vision is the victim.

“Capital isn’t scarce; vision is.” — Sam Walton

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” — Bible, Proverbs 29:18

Imagine an entire world that embraced the Napoleon Hill philosophy and was able to unleash the full capacity of human creativity and ingenuity. Not just the so-called “educated thinkers” with advanced college degrees. I mean everyone – kids included.

“One of the virtues of being very young is that you don’t let the facts get in the way of your imagination.” — Sam Levenson, humorist

“Imagination is more important than knowledge.” — Albert Einstein

“Our imagination is the only limit to what we can hope to have in the future.” — Charles F. Kettering

Is that too idealistic for you? Okay. Instead of imagining the release of ALL untapped creativity, what if we could gain access to just 1% of it? How different would the world be if everyone made a habit of exercising his creative mind like some exercise their bodies? I envision happy, energized people who think up better solutions to old problems, invent new things, fuel the next economic boom, and make the world a better place. Ridiculous? Where’s your imagination?

“The man who has no imagination has no wings.” — Muhammad Ali

Everyone has within himself untapped God-given creative potential. With desire and a little bit of practice, everyone has the ability to develop qualities of a visionary (not in the prophetic sense.)

“A visionary is one who can find his way by moonlight, and see the dawn before the rest of the world.” — Oscar Wilde

“What is now proved was once only imagined.” — William Blake

Vision is imagination with focus. When random images are assembled and brought into focus through lenses called intent and purpose and a filter called morality, visions are formed – some have world-changing potential. Without focus, the target is fuzzy making it difficult to aim at and even more difficult to share with others. However, too much focus and the wrong kind of filtering can squelch creativity. For example, applying the filter known as “probability” too early in the visioning process is like a governor placed on a high-performance engine. It limits the power of the vision.

“Dream big dreams! Imagine that you have no limitations and then decide what’s right before you decide what’s possible.” — Brian Tracy

“No one is less ready for tomorrow than the person who holds the most rigid beliefs about what tomorrow will contain.”

— The Visionary’s Handbook: Ten Paradoxes That Will Shape the Future of Your Business, 1999.

When the image is an outcome or target it is sometimes referred to as “the big picture” or “the 30,000 foot view.” Contrasting with that is the idiom “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Both are referring to the fact that that there is a difference between the overall outcome and the implementation details.

The next step is giving birth to your vision. Like a baby, which needs lots of love and attention, every vision needs a parent (biological or adoptive) to help it grow and mature. This is where care and feeding begin. The parent of the vision needs a plan of action.

“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and it never outgrows it.” — Frank A. Clark

“Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” — Japanese proverb

It’s Your Vision, Record It

Professionals keep a journal of their thoughts, events, ideas and yes, their visions. Describe the vision and all of its glorious details. If possible, draw or find a picture of it. It’s not silly to record the birth date of an idea or vision. If a beer company can make a big deal about the “born on date” of their product, you should do likewise. Certainly the birth of your idea is more significant than a bottle of beer. If you are unwilling to do these things, you probably don’t love your vision enough to help it survive, much less to help it grow and thrive.

“If you’re serious about becoming a wealthy, powerful, sophisticated, healthy, influential, cultured and unique individual – keep a journal. Don’t trust your memory. When you listen to something valuable, write it down. When you come across something important, write it down.”
— Jim Rohn <http://www.personal-development.com/jim-rohn/keeping-journal.htm&gt;

It’s Your Vision, Share It

Dote on your vision like it’s your own precious child. Show it to others. Your enthusiasm will grow and you may find others willing to help support your vision. Be ready for some to say “you have an ugly baby.” Others will more thoughtfully offer encouragement or parenting advice. Use the good feedback to refine and bring clarity to your vision. Ignore the useless and bad feedback. However, both types of feedback can be sources of positive motivation.

“A baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities.” — Eda J. Le Shan (1922-2002), Psychologist, family counselor, author.

“If you desire to drain to the dregs the fullest cup of scorn and hatred that a fellow human being can pour out for you, let a young mother hear you call dear baby “it.”
— Jerome K. Jerome (1859-1927), Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, p. 58.

It’s Your Vision Realize It

The future of your vision is undeniably linked to the amount of passion you or someone else has for it. Passion is the fuel that turns vision into reality.

“A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, not position.” — John C. Maxwell, <www.JohnMaxwell.com/about/>

“There is no finer investment for any community then putting milk into babies.” — Winston Churchill

There’s a corollary to this vision/passion connection. Regardless of whether or not a particular vision lives or dies is less important than for the individual to create a passion connection with any worthy vision. Having a passion-filled vision is crucial to achieving the highest levels of professionalism. It might sound cliché, but find what you love to do and figure out a way to make a living out of it. Instead of just making a living, you’ll be making a life.

“If you wake up in the morning and you can’t think of anything but singing first, then you’re supposed to be a singer, girl.” — A line by Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act II.

“Once you surrender to your vision, success begins to chase you.” — Robin Sharma, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari.

“You do not pay the price of success, you enjoy the price of success.” — Zig Ziglar

Ownership of a vision is not limited to the ones who created it. In fact, people working together should adopt the organization’s vision if the organization is to thrive. Whether or not you are the originator of the vision, if you claim either a parental role or an adoptive parental role in the life of the vision, you are a leader. Keep this in mind while reading the following leadership quotes:

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” — John C. Maxwell

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them.” — Robert Jarvik, Artificial Heart Developer.

“The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.” — Theodor Hesburgh

“A leader has the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. He inspires the power and energy to get it done.” — Ralph Lauren

“We lose sight of the most important factors that lead to successful leadership: commitment, a passion to make a difference, a vision for achieving positive change, and the courage to take action.”
— Larraine Matusak, Finding Your Voice: Learning to Lead Anywhere You Want to Make a Difference, p. 7.

“The size of a leader is determined by the depth of his convictions, the height of his ambitions, the breadth of his vision and the reach of his love.” — D.N. Jackson, Leadership Inspirational Quotes & Insights for Leaders, p. 155

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” — Warren Bennis

Now, go feed that baby!

God bless,

— CC

[ U=Understanding | Index | W=Work ]

© Copyright January 2009, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Assume Responsibility

The ABC’s of Professionalism

Every now and again, the subject of rights takes center stage in the public arena.  Human rights, personal rights, maternal rights, rights of the unborn, the right to bear arms, and the right to health care are just a few of the more common topics.  This column deals with the forgotten part of the rights discussion -– responsibility.

“We’ve gotten to the point where everybody’s got a right and nobody’s got a responsibility.” — Newton N. Minow (1926- ), Attorney, former FCC Chair

Perhaps the most famous expression of personal responsibility is President Harry S. Truman’s motto, “The buck stops here!” The record does not say whether this was Truman’s private joke toward political rivals or simply his retort to the very human practice of “passing the buck.”  It was undeniably part of his public persona.  He even had a sign with these words on his White House desk.

buck-stops-here
Image Courtesy of the Harry S. Truman Library & Museum

This may be the most powerful and concise statement of personal responsibility of all time.  Here’s another strong, Trumanesque statement:

“If you mess up, ‘fess up.” — Author Unknown

Today, people like to say, “It happened on my watch.” as if to imply, “Please note that I didn’t directly cause the problem, but I’m in charge so I’ll deal with the mess.”  While perhaps true, it seems to contain just a hint of figuratively “passing the buck.”

Discussions about responsibility tend to gravitate toward unfavorable outcomes and the folks stuck with cleaning up the mess.  This is reactive responsibility.   There is another dimension.  One is engaging in proactive responsibility when he acquires sufficient wisdom in advance regarding the probability of certain causes and effects, courageously commits to be personally accountable for all outcomes (good or bad), and moves forward optimistically and prepared with his action plan.  In other words, responsibility includes preparation, commitment, and “pre-action,” not just reaction.  Sounds a lot like the other aspects of professionalism, eh?

Preparation: “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.” — G. M. Trevelyan (1876-1962), English historian

Courage: “Responsibility is the thing people dread most of all. Yet it is the one thing in the world that develops us, gives us manhood or womanhood fiber.” — Frank Crane (1861–1928), Minister, columnist

Action: “Actions have consequences…first rule of life. And the second rule is this – you are the only one responsible for your own actions.” — Holly Lisle (1960- ), American novelist, “Fire In The Mist”, 1992

There’s wisdom in the coaching cliche, “There is no ‘I’ in team.”  However, it is also true that there is a lot of “I” in responsibility.  In fact, responsibility exists only at the personal level.  As people band together to form companies, institutions, governments, teams and other organizations, personal responsibility either gets foggy or it completely evaporates, producing unintended negative outcomes and outright corruption.

“Power without responsibility – the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages” — Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), English author, poet

“When government accepts responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsibility for themselves.” — George Pataki (1945- ), Former governor of New York

“The problem of power is how to achieve its responsible use rather than its irresponsible and indulgent use – of how to get men of power to live for the public rather than off the public.” — Robert F. Kennedy (1925-1968), U.S. Senator, ‘I Remember, I Believe,’ The Pursuit of Justice, 1964

To prevent or eliminate this sort of chaos, each person needs to act like a professional by first remembering that responsibility always remains in the hands of individuals, then willingly claiming responsibility wherever and whenever it is appropriate.

No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” — George Burns (1896-1996), American comedian, actor, writer

“You can delegate authority, but not responsibility.” — Stephen W. Comiskey

“‘I must do something’ always solves more problems than ‘Something must be done.'” — Author Unknown

“You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say” — Martin Luther (1483-1546), German monk, theologian, church reformer, writer, composer

A professional makes promises and keeps them.  A professional accepts a position of authority and performs to the best of his ability.  A professional speaks inspiring words, then leads by example.  Responsibility begins with words and is fulfilled with deeds.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), Political and spiritual leader of India

“Life is a promise; fulfill it.” — Mother Teresa (1910-1997), Albanian Roman Catholic nun, missionary, humanitarian

Deeds produce outcomes.  Positive outcomes are often called results — negative outcomes are euphemistically known as consequences.  When outcomes are good, the responsible professional is humble, shares the credit and moves forward to build on those results.  When outcomes are less favorable, he accepts the blame, makes amends, seeks forgiveness and continues moving forward, but a little bit wiser.

“Failure is nature’s plan to prepare you for great responsibilities.” — Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), American author

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” — Alfred A. Montapert, American Author

“It is our responsibilities, not ourselves, that we should take seriously.” — Peter Ustinov (1921-2004)

Personal responsibility is each person’s first prerequisite, especially before attempting to instruct others on this aspect of professionalism.  No irresponsible person can be effective or credible when it comes to promoting responsibility in others.

“If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind. If you don’t, you’re simply ducking your responsibilities.” — Ann Richards (1933-2006), former Texas Governor

“Character – the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life – is the source from which self respect springs.” — Joan Didion (1934- ), “Slouching Towards Bethlehem”

“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” — Jim Rohn (1930- ), American author, entrepreneur, motivational speaker

Your personal responsibility path leads to opportunities to leave a legacy of responsibility for your children and others within your circle of influence.  This includes becoming the best person you can become.

“Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors” — Jonas Salk (1914–1995), American biologist, physician

“Work while you have the light. You are responsible for the talent that has been entrusted to you.” — Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881), Swiss philosopher, poet

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” — Anthony Robbins (1960- ), Motivational speaker

“Every person is responsible for all the good within the scope of his abilities, and for no more” — Gail Hamilton (1833-1896), American writer

Opportunities for responsibility are instrumental in building character.  They should be treated as life’s quizzes, tests, and exams — tools to learn, reinforce, stretch, and provide a progress measurement.

“A new position of responsibility will usually show a man to be a far stronger creature than was supposed.” — William James (1842–1910), American psychologist, philosopher

“Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him.” — Booker T. Washington (1856-1915), American educator, author, orator

“If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” — Abigail Van Buren (1918- ), Advice columnist

Free will allows each person to accept as much or as little responsibility as he sees fit.  But, everyone must be willing to accept some measure of it.  Whereas some will consistently leave responsibility on the table, the professional will rise to the challenge, picking up the slack for the greater good.  The hidden gem for the professional is what he becomes in the process.

“Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), German author

“The price of greatness is responsibility.” — Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister

God bless,

— CC

[ P/Q=P’s and Q’s | Index | S=Service ]

© Copyright November 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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Mind Your P’s and Q’s

The ABC’s of Professionalism

There are several stories about how the English expression, “mind your P’s and Q’s” came to be. One such theory says that 17th Century barkeepers kept track of their patrons’ consumption and would instruct them to “mind their pints and quarts.” Centuries later my Grandma used the same expression with her young grandchildren. It never dawned on me that she was concerned about my drinking habits. From the perspective of a six-year old, I assumed she was talking about my manners.

It’s a curious thing that we have so many words for this antiquated expression.  Thankfully we’re still concerned about subject, whatever one chooses to call it.

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use.” — Emily Post (1872-1960)

Politeness is to human nature what warmth is to wax.” — Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

“Nothing is less important than which fork you use. Etiquette is the science of living. It embraces everything. It is ethics. It is honor.” — Emily Post (1872-1960)

“Life is not so short but that there is always time for courtesy — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

Civility costs nothing and buys everything.” — Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)

“Without an acquaintance with the rules of propriety, it is impossible for the character to be established.” — Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), The Confucian Analects

“Observe decorum, and it will open a path to morality.” — Mason Cooley (1927-2002)

The fact that mankind has adopted codes of behavior has been constant throughout recorded history. What have changed are the specific rules and their relative importance. The character of George Washington was strongly influenced by “110 Rules of Civility and Decent Behavior in Company and Conversation.” Here are a few samples:

#15 — Keep your nails clean and short, also your hands and teeth clean yet without showing any great concern for them.

#19 — Let your countenance be pleasant but in serious matters somewhat grave.

#22 — Shew not yourself glad at the misfortune of another though he were your enemy.

#108 — When you speak of God, or His attributes, let it be seriously and with reverence. Honor and obey your natural parents although they be poor.

#110 — Labour to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience.

— Catherine Millard, “Rewriting of America’s History” pp.59-60

Those with adult children know first-hand how technology and generational attitudes affect changes in the current code. Certain “P’s and Q’s” of one generation might be “don’t know and don’t care” to a younger demographic. They are busy with other priorities. I don’t have access to President Washington’s entire list, but it’s a certain bet that it does not include the proper way to “de-friend” someone from one’s cellular favorites.

Cell phones and email are among the top disruptive technologies of the last 15 years. Appropriate behaviors are still being defined and learned.  For fun, I visited some Web sites that addressed cell phone etiquette of which I chose five for comparison. The authors agreed that ringers should be off in places like theaters, cell phones and driving don’t mix, and talking louder on a cell phone is unnecessary and rude. Four of the five complained about personalized ring tones. After that, they were all over the map, indicating we don’t yet have a common baseline for cell phone etiquette.

One way to learn about manners is to Google “pet peeves”. There are pet peeve lists about cell phone usage, driving, recruiting, baseball, the workplace, the bathroom, and even pet pet peeves. Those gripes which enough people share will eventually spawn new or revised rules of etiquette.  However, these lists also contain some pretty petty pet peeves. (Maybe alliteration is on yours.)

Bad manners (good manners, too) affect everyone.

“Whoever one is, and wherever one is, one is always in the wrong if one is rude.” — Maurice Baring (1874–1945)

Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you – not because they are nice, but because you are.” — Author Unknown

There’s an interesting three-way relationship among respect, manners, and morals in the following quotation:

“To have respect for ourselves guides our morals; and to have a deference for others governs our manners.” — Lawrence Sterne (1713-1768)

The subtle but important meaning is an inferred relationship between morals and manners. Without this connection, manners would merely be arbitrary conventions. Good manners come in two forms: acts of kindness and omissions of kindness (things one refrains from doing or saying.) In most cases these are small, simple matters requiring little knowledge and effort.

“Good manners are made up of petty sacrifices.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

“Good manners: The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.” — Bennett Cerf (1898-1971)

Like all character issues, minding one’s P’s and Q’s produces tangible social and professional benefits.  In fact, the return often far exceeds the investment.

“Politeness and consideration for others is like investing pennies and getting dollars back.” — Thomas Sowell (1930- ), Creators Syndicate

“Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” — Clarence Thomas (1948- )

“Outcomes rarely turn on grand gestures or the art of the deal, but on whether you’ve sent someone a thank-you note.” — Bernie Brillstein (1931-2008), “The Little Stuff Matters Most”

P’s and Q’s can help produce “peace and quiet” in a fast-paced, stressful world for you and those whom you meet.

“Good manners and soft words have brought many a difficult thing to pass.” — Sir John Vanbrugh (1664?-1726)

God bless,

— CC

[ O=Optimism | Index | R=Responsibility ]

© Copyright November 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
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