The main goal of Steven Covey's new book, The 8th Habit, is to inspire the reader to find her or his own voice (so that s/he can then inspire others to find their voices).
Finding My Voice is something that I have not yet learned to do in life -- where I often link myself to other people who have big, fascinating, cannot-be-ignored voices (and personalities) of their own, which in turn renders me, chameleon-like, into the Zelig I have innate proclivities to be. (Rohit has gone so far as to call me "human silly putty" at times.)
Nor is Finding My Voice something that comes naturally to me on the Internet, where I'm almost always an amplifier for words and opinions I find karmically appealing, rather than to be the source of something innovative, interesting, and/or inspirational that came from the inner workings of my own mind. (The rare exceptions -- why has no one else put together a page on Google Acquisitions or Personal Web calculations? -- are more exercises in synthesis than exercises in thesis or antithesis, if my understanding of the Hegelian Dialectic is correct.)
Which is why I find it oddly self-affirming that my favorite parts of The 8th Habit are the quotations of great lines said by other people that are peppered throughout Covey's prose. (By contrast, just a pair of Covey lines,
Identity is destiny.
Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they come to see it in themselves.
did I find thought provoking.) Below is a sampling of my favorites:
- "All children are born geniuses; 9,999 out of every 10,000 are swiftly, inadvertently degeniusized by grownups." (Buckminster Fuller)
- "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." (Edmund Burke)
- "There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root." (Henry David Thoreau, Walden page 70 of the 1997 Beacon Press edition)
- "There is nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come." (Victor Hugo)
- "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." (Robert Frost)
- "Self-knowledge is best learned, not by contemplation but by action. Strive to do your duty and you will soon discover of what stuff you are made." (Johann Goethe)
- "The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds." (R.D. Laing)
- "One ship drives east and another drives west
With the self same winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails,
And not the gales,
That tells us the way to go.
Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate;
As we voyage along through life,
'Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm, or the strife." (Ella Wheeler Wilcox)
- "The brain said, 'I'm the smartest organ in the body.' The heart said, 'Who told you?'" (plaque seen in a rural store in North Carolina)
- "Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next." (Dr. Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio vaccine)
- "Wisdom denotes the pursuing of the best ends by the best means." (Frances Hutcheson)
- "All organizations are perfectly aligned to get the results they get." (Arthur W. Jones)
- "We must become the change we seek in the world." (Mahatma Gandhi)
- "Once in Sicily, I told a general who was somewhat reluctant to attack that I had perfect confidence in him. To show it, I went home. Never tell people what to do, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity." (General George S. Patton)
- "Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it stands than to anything on which it is poured." (Mahatma Gandhi)
- "Leaders do not avoid, repress, or deny conflict, but rather see it as an opportunity." (Warren Bennis, Why Leaders Can't Lead)
- "When I ask you to listen and you start giving advice, you have not done what I have asked. When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me why I shouldn't feel that way, you are trampling on my feelings. When I ask you to listen and you feel you have to do something to solve my problem, you have failed me, strange as it may seem. Listen! All I asked was that you listen; not talk or do -- just hear me... I can do for myself. I'm not helpless. Maybe discouraged and faltering, but not helpless. When you do something for me that I can and need to do for myself, you contribute to my fear and feeling of inadequacy. But when you accept as fact that I do feel what I feel, no matter how irrational, then I can quit trying to convince you and can get about the business of understanding what's behind this irrational feeling. And when that's clear, the answers are obvious and I don't need advice." (Ralph Houghton, M.D.)
- One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree.
"Which road do I take?" she asked.
His response was a question: "Where do you want to go?"
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter." (Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
- "No horse gets anywhere until he is harnessed.
No steam or gas ever drives anything until it is confined.
No Niagara is ever turned into light and power until it is tunneled.
No life ever grows great until it is focused, dedicated, disciplined." (Henry Emerson Fosdick)
- "The best way to inspire people to a superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them." (Harold S. Greneen, former chairman of ITT)
- "Scientific evidence -- largely from the field of neuroscience, which concerns our basic biology and how our brains develop -- shows that the human child is 'hardwired to connect'. We are hardwired to connect to other people, to moral and spiritual meaning, and to openness to the transcendent. Meeting these basic needs for connection is essential to health and human flourishing." (YMCA of the USA, Dartmouth Medical School, and The Institute fir American Values, Hardwired to Connect: The New Scientific Case for Authoritative Communities, a report to the nation from the Commission on Children at Risk, 2003)
- "I sought my God and my God I could not find.
I sought my soul and my soul eluded me.
I sought my brother to serve him in his need,
and I found all three -- my God, my soul and thee." (anonymous)
- "One hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like. But the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child." (anonymous)
- "My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes." (Robert Frost, "Two Tramps in Mud Time")
- "A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in a sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
- "When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse, he understands his own badness less and less. A moderately bad man knows he is not very good; a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right. This is common sense, really. You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping. You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly; while you are making them you cannot see them. Good people know about both bad and evil; bad people do not know about either." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
- "The surest way to reveal one's character is not through adversity but by giving them power." (Abraham Lincoln)
- "When I look back on my life nowadays, which I sometimes do, what strikes me most forcibly about it is that what seemed at the time significant and seductive, seems now most futile and absurd. For instance, success in all of its various guises; being known and being praised; ostensible pleasures, like acquiring money or seducing women, or traveling, going to and fro in the world and up and down in it like Satan, explaining and experiencing whatever Vanity Fair has to offer. In retrospect, all these exercises in self-gratification seem like pure fantasy, what Pascal called, 'licking the earth'." (Malcolm Muggeridge, "A Twentieth Century Testimony", 1979)
- "Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance." (Will Durant)
- "In a sense, knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows, for details are swallowed up in principles. The details for knowledge, which are important, will be picked up ad hoc in each avocation of life, but the habit of active utilization of well-understood principles is the final possession of wisdom." (Alfred North Whitehead, "The Rhythmic Claims of Freedom and Discipline", The Aims of Education and Other Essays, 1929)
- "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear." (Ambrose Redmoon)
- "I am no longer a young man filled with energy and vitality. I'm given to meditation and prayer. I would enjoy sitting in a rocker, swallowing prescriptions, listening to soft music, and contemplating the things of the universe. But such activity offers no challenge and makes no contribution. I wish to be up and doing. I wish to face each day with resolution and purpose. I wish to use every waking hour to give encouragement, to bless those whose burdens are heavy, to build faith and strength of testimony. It is the presence of wonderful people which stimulates the adrenaline. It is the look of love in their eyes which gives me energy." (Gordon B. Hinckley, age 92, "Testimony", Ensign Magazine, May 1998)
- "I slept and dreamed that life was joy.
I awoke and saw that life was service.
I acted, and behold, service was joy." (Rabindranath Tagore)
- "I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly, correctly. I am easily managed -- you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great people; and alas, of all failures as well. Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine plus the intelligence of a human being. You may run me for a profit or turn me for ruin -- it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me, and I will place the world at your feet. Be easy with me and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am habit." (anonymous)
- "So much of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to work." (Peter Drucker)
- "The difference between what we are doing and what we're capable of doing would solve most of the world's problems." (Mahatma Gandhi)
- "In everyone's life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit." (Albert Schweitzer)
- "For all sad words of tongue and pen, The saddest are these: It might have been!" (John Greenleaf Whittier, Maud Muller, 1866)
- "When the infrastructure shifts, everything rumbles." (Stan Davis)
- "People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true friends; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world your best anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway." (Mother Teresa)
- "Few of us can do great things, but all of us can do small things with great love." (Mother Teresa)
- "When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bounds. Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world." (the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali)
A closing thought is that likely Finding My Voice will not happen until my vessel is ready; lessons are repeated until they are learned, says Iyanla Vanzant. In the meantime, I still find that the ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit.