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Inspiration: "The World's Best Quotes in 1-10 Words."

I've collected thousands of inspirational quotes. It seems that nearly everything that can be said, has been said, simply and eloquently, in a way that can seldom be improved. Winston Churchill wrote, "Broadly speaking, the short words are the best, and the old words best of all." So, I collected "The world's best quotes in one to ten words." These are the quotes:

1. Love. —The Prophets

Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha. All the world's religious saints and prophets hold love as a central value, the glue that anchors the universe.

We hear, "Love makes the world go round," and "Love heals all wounds." These are familiar themes: love of friends, ideas, and self. Love of God and of country. Even love of life itself. If I could only have one word for all eternity, love would be my choice.

2. Know thyself. —Socrates

In college I studied philosophy under Professor Don Crosby, and met Socrates early. In career development, self-knowledge is everything. In a career, you can be two or three degrees off course and walk into a wall, instead of through a doorway. You don't have to be far off to have it fail.

Career unhappiness often results from lack of focus, and lack of focus stems from limited self-knowledge. But self-knowledge takes time, introspection, and effort. So it's easy to avoid.

3. Inches make champions. —Vince Lombardi

Under Vincent Thomas Lombardi's direction, the Green Bay Packers collected six division titles, five NFL championships, two Super Bowls, and record of 98-30-4. Lombardi knew a lot about winning. If football is a game of inches, so is career success. In the competitive world, you seldom win by a landslide.

Buzz Sullivan, my high school diving coach, told me, "A champion is someone who goes so far they can't go another inch—and then they go that inch." I wondered why that was important. Now I know. Winning in business or in personal life is all about inches: going small distances successfully, then going farther still.

4. Nothing gold can stay. —Robert Frost

We are swamped in change. And we had better get used to it, or at least figure out how to deal with it. In our parents' day, career change was uncommon. The norm was lifetime employment. Now CAREER = CHANGE. You'll have five careers in a lifetime, maybe six. Perhaps you'll do part-time, project, interim, or consulting work. And even if you're in your ideal dream job today, that might change tomorrow. Nothing gold can stay.

Martin Bucco taught English literature at Colorado State University, and first brought my attention to what words could mean. Bucco spoke of what he called "the great dead minds," those who have come before us and written their thoughts. He also said, "Time in life is short. You can only read so many books, so choose wisely." We spent many classes unwrapping Robert Frost's genius, and this is one of the poems that hit home:

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

5. Work is love made visible. —Kahlil Gibran

About 80% of people are unhappy at work, and 20% are happy. Our culture has separated work from passion, and taught us to prefer a higher paycheck to higher happiness. That mistake costs us our souls. The goal of career development is to uncover one's gifts and passions, and to link them to the practical needs of the world. We call that "being in the right place," "finding a good fit," or "making the best use of one's talents."

In What Color Is Your Parachute? my mentor, Dick Bolles, quotes Fred Buechner, who writes, "There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work . . . (and) the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." [2001 Edition, page 57.]

High compensation and high happiness are not incompatible. It's not that we shouldn't seek money, and lots of it; many of our clients do. But we should first seek to love, or at least to like, what we're doing. That's the realization of our highest calling.

6. No great thing is created suddenly. —Epictetus (A.D.200)

We live in a McDonald's culture. We want everything instantly and without effort. And we bristle when others around us appear to be getting more, sooner. Waiting for rewards or results is out of favor. It is so uncool.

Many things are created suddenly: the two-day house makeovers on HOME & GARDEN TELEVISION, for example, but they aren't great. They are adequate, functional, or practical improvements. Greatness requires thought and time, effort and sacrifice. Especially sacrifice.

Stellar careers aren't built overnight. Take the orthopedic surgeon, whose education extends 15 years past high school. Take the country western star on Grand Ole' Opry. Take the NFL quarterback or wide receiver, the CEOs, CFOs, and Vice Presidents of brand-name companies. Think about Edison, Einstein, or Galileo, or anyone else you might admire. None of them got there overnight.

Great careers are built upon hundreds of thousands of small efforts, undertaken daily, that eventually grow into a series of satisfying wins. An ad for Paul Masson Vineyards picturing a bottle of wine said, "Nothing good happens fast." I framed it, and hung it in my office.

7. Well done is better than well said. —Benjamin Franklin

This is a variation on "Actions speak louder than words" and on Shakespeare's superb quote, "Talkers are no good doers." An executive search consultant who recruited 500 bank presidents told me, "There are two kinds of candidates: tap dancers and superstars. Tap dancers go through the motions and superstars get the work done. I recruit the superstars."

8. No wind favors he who has no destined port. —Montaigne

The cliche, "If you don't know where you're going, any road will take you there," is valid. And many careers are broken by lack of direction. Corporations define this concept as having a mission or vision, and organizations lacking vision usually flounder. "Career Planning" speaks to the idea of creating a blueprint for your future. That is, having a goal, a destined port—fulfilling your destiny. Stephen R. Covey said it well in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People when he advised us to "Begin with the end in mind."

9. Sometimes even to live is an act of courage. —Seneca

I've been there. You've been there. Sometimes life is hard. You hit a career roadblock or dead end. Nothing seems to be working. You're fired or laid off. Or worse yet, you and your spouse are both unemployed. It happens. And it happens more frequently than you might imagine, to good people, qualified candidates, because of circumstances beyond their control. I like Churchill's words, "Never give in, never, never, never, never; in nothing, great or small—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." And I especially like the quote by Edmund Burke, who said: "Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair."

10. Do first things first, and second things not at all. —Peter Drucker.

It's so easy to do what's familiar, comfortable, or fun. It's so difficult, sometimes, to tackle the highest priority. And sometimes it's difficult to even know your top priorities; hence, the phrase, "I can't see the forest for the trees."

We suffer from over-choice: 67 varieties of toothpaste, 487 styles of shoes, 186 brands of cell phones with 137 telephone companies. We demand more variety than we could possibly need or want; and as a result, we get lost in options, opportunities, and choices. There are 87 varieties of lawyers, and 75 specialties inside medicine. The world of work can be a confusing landscape.

When you're flooded with career possibilities, or "swimming up Niagara Falls," it's good to spend time answering questions like, "What is the best and highest use of my talents?" and, "How can I make a bigger impact?"

If you can't establish clear career priorities by yourself, use friends and business acquaintances as a sounding board. They will want to help. Ask them to help you determine your "first things" and "second things." Or seek an outside coach or advisor to help you focus. Because if you don't know what your "first things" are, you simply can't do them FIRST.


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A kiss is a rosy dot over the 'i' of loving.
~Cyrano de Bergerac


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A kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous.
~Ingrid Bergman


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Tis not love's going hurts my days, but that it went in little ways.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

Albert Einstein (1879-1955)  

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A man should look for what is, and not for what he thinks should be.
~Albert Einstein

A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem.
~Albert Einstein

A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
~Albert Einstein

A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?
~Albert Einstein

A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?
~Albert Einstein

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.
~Albert Einstein

All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual.
~Albert Einstein

All these primary impulses, not easily described in words, are the springs of man's actions.
~Albert Einstein

An empty stomach is not a good political adviser.
~Albert Einstein

Anger dwells only in the bosom of fools.
~Albert Einstein

Any fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.
~Albert Einstein

Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.
~Albert Einstein

Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.
~Albert Einstein

Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.
~Albert Einstein

Anyone who doesn't take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.
~Albert Einstein

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
~Albert Einstein

As far as I'm concerned, I prefer silent vice to ostentatious virtue.
~Albert Einstein

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.
~Albert Einstein

Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish.
~Albert Einstein

Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.
~Albert Einstein

Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)  

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A friend is one who has the same enemies as you have.
~Abraham Lincoln

A house divided against itself cannot stand.
~Abraham Lincoln

A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.
~Abraham Lincoln

All I am, or can be, I owe to my angel mother.
~Abraham Lincoln

All my life I have tried to pluck a thistle and plant a flower wherever the flower would grow in thought and mind.
~Abraham Lincoln

All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.
~Abraham Lincoln

Allow the president to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such a purpose - and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
~Abraham Lincoln

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.
~Abraham Lincoln

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
~Abraham Lincoln

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
~Abraham Lincoln

Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable - a most sacred right - a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.
~Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
~Abraham Lincoln

As our case is new, we must think and act anew.
~Abraham Lincoln

Avoid popularity if you would have peace.
~Abraham Lincoln

Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.
~Abraham Lincoln

Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.
~Abraham Lincoln

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
~Abraham Lincoln

Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren't very new at all.
~Abraham Lincoln

Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
~Abraham Lincoln

Common looking people are the best in the world: that is the reason the Lord makes so many of them.
~Abraham Lincoln

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)  

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The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster.
~Oscar Wilde | Acting and the Theatre Quotes

The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself.
~Oscar Wilde | Advice Quotes

(A country where) the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the full benefits of their inexperience.
~Oscar Wilde | America and Americans Quotes

Good artists exist simply in what they make, and consequently are perfectly uninteresting in what they are.
~Oscar Wilde | Art and the Artist Quotes

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.
~Oscar Wilde | Censorship Quotes

At every single moment of one's life, one is going to be no less than what one has been.
~Oscar Wilde | Character and Personality Quotes

Anybody can be good in the country. There are no temptations there.
~Oscar Wilde | The City and the Country Quotes

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
~Oscar Wilde | Consistency Quotes

If England treats her criminals the way she has treated me, she doesn't deserve to have any.
~Oscar Wilde | Crime and Punishment Quotes

When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself.
~Oscar Wilde | Critics and Criticism Quotes

What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
~Oscar Wilde | Cynicism Quotes

He hasn't an enemy in the world, and none of his friends like him.
~Oscar Wilde | Enemies Quotes

A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.
~Oscar Wilde | Enemies Quotes

Experience is the name so many people give to their mistakes.
~Oscar Wilde | Experience Quotes

The suspense is terrible. I hope it will last.
~Oscar Wilde | Fear Quotes

The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.
~Oscar Wilde | Genius Quotes

There is luxury in self-reproach. When we blame ourselves we feel that no one else has the right to blame us.
~Oscar Wilde | Hypocrisy Quotes

I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.
~Oscar Wilde | Hypocrisy Quotes

I am not young enough to know everything.
~Oscar Wilde | Knowledge Quotes

For he who lives more lives than one, more deaths than one must die.
~Oscar Wilde | Life Quotes

Memory is the diary that we all carry about with us.
~Oscar Wilde | Memory Quotes

Men become old, but they never become good.
~Oscar Wilde | Men Quotes

Women are never disarmed by compliments. Men always are.
~Oscar Wilde | Men and Women Quotes

All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does. That's his.
~Oscar Wilde | Men and Women Quotes

To become the spectator of one's own life is to escape the suffering of life.
~Oscar Wilde | Observation Quotes

Pessimist - one who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.
~Oscar Wilde | Optimism and Pessimism Quotes