Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in July 2022, theme is courage.
Quotes for Entrepreneurs Curated in July 2022
I curate these quotes for entrepreneurs from a variety of sources and tweet them on @skmurphy about once a day where you can get them hot off the mojo wire. At the end of each month I curate them in a blog post that adds commentary and may contain a longer passage from the same source for context. Please enter your E-mail address if you would like to have new blog posts sent to you.
Theme for this month is courage.
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“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.”
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“Truth, though it has many disadvantages, is at least changeless. You can always find it where you left it.”
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“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”
I was taught that the belief you could do as you please was “license” and distinct from freedom which was taking responsibility for your actions in an atmosphere of mutual respect. License rejects responsibility and ends in chaos, both in our society as a whole and our personal morality. I used this quote in “Independence Day 2022: The Spirit of Liberty.”
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“No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.”
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“Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances which we know to be desperate. It is true that there is a state of hope which belongs to bright prospects and the morning; but that is not the virtue of hope. The virtue of hope exists only in earthquake and, eclipse. […] For practical purposes it is at the hopeless moment that we require the hopeful man, and the virtue either does not exist at all, or begins to exist at that moment. Exactly at the instant when hope ceases to be reasonable it begins to be useful.”
G. K. Chesterton, in Heretics (1905)[Gutenberg]
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“Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground,
Mother Earth will swallow you,
Lay your body down.”
Stephen Stills in “Find the Cost of Freedom”
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“When I was a Boy Scout, we played a game when new scouts joined the troop. We lined up chairs in a pattern, creating an obstacle course through which the new scouts, blindfolded, were supposed to maneuver. The scoutmaster gave them a few moments to study the pattern before our adventure began. But as soon as the victims were blindfolded, the rest of us quietly removed the chairs. I think life is like this game. Perhaps we spend our lives avoiding obstacles we have created for ourselves but in reality exist only in our minds. We’re afraid to apply for that job, take violin lessons, learn a foreign language, call an old friend, write our congressman — whatever it is that we would really like to do but don’t because of personal obstacles. Don’t avoid any chairs until you run smack into one. And if you do, at least you’ll have a place to sit down.”
Pierce Vincent Eckhart
Cannot find any evidence that Pierce Vincent Eckhart ever existed but it’s a good story about the need for courage. Here is a related quote by Andrew Carnegie that is often attributed to Mark Twain.
“A good story was told of an old man who had endured many of the ills of life in his long journey. His friends upon one occasion, more trying than usual, condoled with him, saying that he really had more troubles than other men. “Yes, my friends, that is too true. I have been surrounded by troubles all my life long, but there is a curious thing about them—nine-tenths of them never happened.”
Andrew Carnegie in “An American Four-in-hand in Britain” (1883) [Gutenberg]
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“In this business, the only thing you can assume about a broken down old man is that he’s a survivor.”
Christopher McQuarrie in “The Way of the Gun” (scriptwriter, voiced by Joe Sarno character played by James Caan)
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“Everyone is wise until he speaks.”
This just in: everyone is wise until he tweets. And “first in still here”
“Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
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“In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.”
Good advice for entrepreneurs, have the courage to say hello and give others your attention and care. Extracted from a longer anecdote attributed to “Joann C. Jones” that has many variations:
“During my second year of nursing school, our professor gave us a quiz. I breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?” Surely this was a joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Before the class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our grade. “Absolutely,” the professor said. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say hello.” I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.”
Joann C. Jones
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“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says, I’ll try again tomorrow.”
Mary Anne Radmacher
Reminds me of a Japanese proverb “Nana-Korobi, Ya-Oki” (“Fall down seven times, get up eight”) that I referenced in the May-2009, Apr-2018, Nov-2021, and blogged about “Things I Have Learned From My Children.” Related quote:
In the early years, I had some midnight-of-your-soul type of times.
Once, I came home from a fair and found the window in my cabin blown in. Snow was all over. It was 20 below and 3 in the morning. I hadn’t made any money and the car had just barely made it there. I really believe that success is just getting up one more time than you fall. It doesn’t come from one brilliant idea, but from a bunch of small decisions that accumulate over the years. And you shouldn’t underestimate the amount of work that’s involved, the amount of fear that’s involved.
Roxanne Quimby in “How I Did It: Roxanne Quimby” from Inc. Magazine.
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“Listen hardest to the one you hope is not telling the truth.”
James Richardson in “Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays” [Archive]
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“I think that we are all fairly average, and that thoughtful management and some basic humanity are enough to make companies successful.”
John Cutler (paraphrased)
I have met many people with remarkable talents and skills in certain areas. They may have had weaknesses in other areas and been “average” over all but I worry in calling everyone average you lose a fundamental appreciation of our distinct capabilities. For example: I don’t think courage is evenly distributed, and there are many different kinds. Some people are not afraid to speak in front of a audience, others are–especially as the audience gets larger. Some are afraid to meet strangers with kindness for fear of appearing weak. Some are overly concerned with making mistakes when the consequences are low–others are probably not mindful enough of the consequences in high risk situations and move beyond courageous into foolhardy.
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“Experience does take dreadfully high school-wages; but he teaches like no other! […] As dark misery settles down on us, and our refuges of lies fall in pieces one after one, the hearts of men, now at last serious, will turn to refuges of truth. The eternal stars shine out again, so soon as it is dark enough.”
Thomas Carlyle in “Past and Present” (Chapter VIII “The Didactic) [Gutenberg]
h/t Quote Investigator relates these to “four laws of history” by Charles Beard.
“First, whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.
Second, the mills of the gods grind slowly, yet they grind exceedingly small.
Third, the bee fertilizes the flower that it robs.
Fourth, when it gets dark enough you can see the stars.”
Charles Beard in “Charles Beard, The Public Man” by George S. Counts.
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“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
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“Courage is doing what you are afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you are scared.”
People who don’t care if they fail are not courageous. [A flashback from July 2018 that aligns well with this month’s theme]
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“They were men who were here before us. We must build again.”
Stephen Vincent Benet in “By the Waters of Babylon” [Faded Page] closing two sentences
I used this in “Kenopsia: Bare Ruined Choirs Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang” and referenced it in my May 2022 collection.
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I realized that I was breathing fast and shallow—almost hyperventilating. The atrium went in and out of focus. I realized that I was terrified. Which seemed so absurd, given that I was having tea in the middle of the Folly, that I had to stop myself breaking into giggles.
“Deep breaths, Peter,” said Nightingale. “In, hold, out.”
I followed his advice, taking long slow breaths as if I was preparing for a particularly tricky spell. My heart slowed, the panic subsided—although the fear remained.
“What was that?” I said. “The responsibility of command,” said Nightingale. “You’re personally brave to the point of recklessness, Peter. But now you are waiting for the battle and you know, because you’re not stupid, that you might have overlooked something or the enemy might have a capability you haven’t considered. But you know it’s too late. It’s going to happen now, and if it goes wrong and people die, you will be responsible.”
Ben Aaronovitch in “Amongst our Weapons“
“Amongst Our Weapons” is the ninth book in Aaronovitch’s “Rivers of London” series that cleverly mixes urban fantasy with police procedural. I have profiled five books in the series:
- Rivers of London
- Quotes From Whispers Under Ground, Broken Homes, and Foxglove Summer
- Moon over Soho: Nature, Technology, Magic
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“The road that stretches before the feet of a man is a challenge to his heart long before it tests the strength of his legs. Our destiny is to run to the edge of the world and beyond, off into the darkness: sure for all our blindness, secure for all our helplessness, strong for all our weakness, gaily in love for all the pressure on our hearts.”
h/t Glenn Ericksen (in personal communication)
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“The mastery of the moment is the mastery of life.”
Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach
Of course, mastery of the moment requires more than effective judgement and improvisation, it requires anticipation, planning, and preparation. And the courage to see it all through.
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“I was born for the storm, and a calm does not suit me.”
Reminds me of the first chapter of Tracy Kidder’s “Soul of a New Machine” entitled “A Good Man in a Storm” that show’s Tom West’s character in action. Here is the last paragraph
“The people who shared the journey remembered West. The following winter, describing the nasty northeaster over dinner, the captain remarked, “That fellow West is a good man in a storm.” The psychologist did not see West again, but remained curious about him. “He didn’t sleep for four nights! Four whole nights.” And if that trip had been his idea of a vacation, where, the psychologist wanted to know, did he work?”
Tracy Kidder “The Soul of a New Machine“
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“I am an innocent victim but I will not victimize myself a second time by brooding endlessly on my calamity and thereby turn myself into a bitter old man.”
Robert Downie of Cosmo Books, as told to Theodore Dalrymple in “The Bookseller’s Tale: Lessons in resilience amid calamity“
After the fire had ruined Downie’s stock almost entirely, he informed his customers via e-mail of the disaster and received in return many messages of condolence and offers of help. I decided to pay him a visit.
Aged 60, with a resilience and good humor that I do not think I should have been capable of in such circumstances, Downie had almost immediately started to trade again from a temporary office near his old location. His stock had taken him decades to collect, collate, and catalog. One could not simply reconstitute it by sending one or two orders to suppliers. It was more like a life’s work, and 60 is not usually an age when one begins again.
But Downie said something that struck me as wiser than anything that an army of therapists might have managed to articulate. Yes, he was a victim, he said (and none more innocent), but he was not going to victimize himself a second time by brooding endlessly on his calamity, and thereby turning himself into a bitter old man. Moreover–though, in a sense, he had to start again from scratch–he knew his business thoroughly, and the fire had not cost him his knowledge.
Theodore Dalrymple in “The Bookseller’s Tale: Lessons in resilience amid calamity“
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“I will fight until Hell freezes over and then fight on the ice!”
Union Captain William Mattingly at the Battle of Bulltown, 1863
Mattingly was holding a small makeshift fort under assault by a larger Confederate force, this was his reply to a request to surrender. The Union force held, Bulltown marked the last serious Confederate skirmish in West Virginia. This reminds me of Tom Petty’s “I won’t back down,” but the last stanza makes it clear Petty is not just being stubborn but committing to what he believes is right: “I know what’s right: I got just one life in a world that keeps on pushing me around but I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down.”
Well I won’t back down, no I won’t back down
You could stand me up at the gates of hell
But I won’t back down
Gonna stand my ground, won’t be turned around
And I’ll keep this world from dragging me down
Gonna stand my ground and I won’t back down
Well I know what’s right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushing me around
But I’ll stand my ground and I won’t back down
I originally curated Petty’s lyrics in October 2021.
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“The scientist has a lot of experience with ignorance and doubt and uncertainty.
Richard Feynman in “The Value of Science” (1955) [Caltech Library PDF]
So do most successful entrepreneurs. Unsuccessful ones don’t recognize their ignorance or use their doubt and uncertainty to improve their plan of action.
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“You’ve got to stumble over your limits before you can go beyond them.”
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“A leader needs the guts to stand alone and look ridiculous.
But you must be easy to follow!
It takes guts to be a first follower!
You stand out and brave ridicule, yourself.
Being a first follower is an under-appreciated form of leadership.
The first follower transforms a lone nut into a leader.
If the leader is the flint, the first follower is the spark that makes the fire.”
Derek Sivers in “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy”
I think many entrepreneurs (and intrapreneurs) are effective evangelists who are followers of inventors.
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