I’m a curious guy so I try to listen carefully for thoughts from others that might guide my actions. I’ve always preferred learning from someone else’s pain rather than my own. Here are some good ones.
“You are what you eat and you become what you think about”. The first part is literally true; most of our cells regenerate in 7-10 years (yep, even bones) on the nourishment we take in, good or bad. The second part has been true for me since I’ve learned that my thoughts are entirely the context for my actions. My thoughts are now driven by many, many sources; my days are filled with reading, listening and conversations with others. We are all products of our environment and to a degree, it’s created.
“Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person falls over”. Attributed to everyone from the Buddha to Bill W., I first heard this from a friend. It stays with me much like “Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional” (another many-fathered quote) lingers. That’s because anger is in my DNA. My meditation teacher suggested 20+ years ago that it’s unlikely I’ll ever “overcome” my angry nature, so it’s best to learn to notice anger so that I may let it go or at least deal with it more skillfully.
“Spare me the burden of wealth”. My mother said this to us and I really thought she was nuts until I accumulated some wealth. I’m fortunate to enjoy luxury more than I once was but if it were a steady diet, I’d be bored stiff. Plus I’d hate to have to keep track of all my “stuff”. Frank Lloyd Wright once said: “Many wealthy people are little more than janitors of their possessions”. It turns out most of the things I enjoy most cost little or nothing. And I need not keep track of them.
“Dance like there’s nobody watching; love like you’ve never been hurt”. Yes, it’s cliché but I love it because my mother never judged, even those friends who hurt her and my Dad lived his life out loud. I often worry too much of what others think, but because of my parents, I often just “let ‘er rip”.
“Mr. Business went to church and never missed a Sunday; Mr. Business went to hell for what he did on Monday”. Yes, I’ve never forgotten this from Sister Regis in 7th grade but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been tempted to show up at Mass on Sunday so I can fougedaboudit on Monday.
“It must be time to get out of your own way”. Ed Crawford, very successful local business person said these words to me when I said to him, “Eddie, after years of growing sales fast, my business has levelled off”. I knew he was right but, letting go without losing control was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But entrepreneurs who want to grow must learn to get out of their own way. It’s tricky.
“My job is to make you the best Tim McCarthy you can become”. Jim Johnson, after I had mimicked him in a presentation, said these words to me. He said that he’d be a lousy leader if all he could do was “create Jim Johnsons”. Now, when someone says they want to “be like me”, I say, “then I cannot mentor you”.
Hope you like these thoughts. I’ll continue this theme next month with expressions I don’t like, such as “everything happens for a reason”. For each of the 100,000 times I’ve heard that one, I’ve immediately known the speaker is trying to make me or themselves feel better about a mistake.
Please send me your thoughts. I would end it there rather than (of good and bad ones. )