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9 Quotes That Make The Difference

9 Quotes That Make The Difference

I’ve been collecting quotes for, oh I don’t know, forever. I guess I’m inclined to the aphorism. Give me Emily Dickinson over Tennyson, give me a haiku over an epic. One of my first entrepreneurial ideas – this would be before the internet really got going – was combining a calendar with a cool quote from one or two people born on that day. Probably a good thing I didn’t over-invest in that.

Here are nine quotes that point to some themes I’ve been thinking about over the last couple of weeks – and some useful resources to check out.


“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”
-Ernest Hemingway

I’ve started behaving differently because of Tony Schwartz’s new book, The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working. In an early chapter, he shares some compelling studies about the difference getting enough sleep makes. It’s not just about tired people make mistakes – although they do. It’s about people who perform the very best, people who excel, get lots of sleep. The typical American? 6.5 hours a night. The very best violinists in the world (the subject of one particular study?) more than eight hours. And because sleeping in later isn’t really an option for most of us, that means making plans (see above) and following plans to go to bed earlier.


“Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.”
-L. Frank Baum

My friend Eric Klein does lots of work around leadership with organizations, but in my opinion one of his deepest gifts is bringing the full power of meditation to those leaders. This is particularly important right now at a time when our attention and our focus is more disrupted and disjointed than ever. (Nick Carr’s new book The Shallows – which I haven’t read – says the internet is changing our brain at a cellular level. Not everyone agrees.  I’ve renewed my determination to meditate a little regularly, not because of any super spiritual kick I might get out of it, but because I want to be able to give things my full attention and to come back to giving them my attention when I wander. Here’s Eric’s latest post on the power of ritual – three simple and important things you can do to kick-start your day (and yes, meditation is one of them).


“For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance.”
-Mignon McLaughlin

Planning matters. Plans fail and they fail all the time of course. “No plan survives contact with the enemy” it’s been said. But planning really matters. It what allows you to be smart when your plans fail. I’m running a teleclass this Thursday and sharing some tools on how to make your plans sustainable and practical. There’s information below on how to sign up. Hope you’ll join us.


“I put a dollar in a change machine. Nothing changed.”
-George Carlin

I’ve just finished putting down the Heath brother’s latest book, Switch. It’s another beauty along the lines of the equally excellent Made to Stick , and it gets to the heart of three core insights that drive personal and organizational change. I’m particularly passionate about the third one they talk about, “prepare the path”. What that means is setting up structures that help guide you to behave the way you want to behave, rather than relying on the highly overrated willpower. It is in fact what Tony Schwartz and Eric Klein are talking about too – change your environment and your environment changes you.

So to make the link to the point on meditation above, I now roll out my meditation/yoga mat in the evening, so when I get up in the morning I’m not sucked into the death-spiral-vortex of email, but actually do the 13 minutes of meditation I’m currently aspiring too.


“The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

I’m lucky enough to have cornered Dave and Wendy Ulrich – authors of a great new book, The Why of Work – and had them agree to do an exclusive teleclass with me. It’s a little way off – Friday July 23rd at 1pm Eastern – and it’s worth getting into your calendar right now if you’re interested in increasing the amount of meaning and impact – some would say Great Work – in your work. Sign up for the call here

Strong women

“Strong women leave big hickies.”

Love that quote. And if you’re one of those strong women, my friend Marcia Reynolds has a new book just arrived for you: Wander Woman: How High-Achieving Women Achieve Contentment and Direction. I really like what I’ve seen of it – in particular, the five core needs that drive these women – both the light and the dark side of it. Worth checking out if you are an Alpha Female.

10 minutes

“Learn to use ten minutes intelligently. It will pay you huge dividends.”
-William Irwin

Box of Crayons’ Coaching for Great Work program helps managers and leaders coach in ten minutes or less and in doing so overcomes the biggest force of resistance to coaching in organizations. We’re having a ton of success with the program in such companies as Nestle, TD Bank and Gartner and we’re looking now to see who else is looking to have coaching have the impact it could and should in their company. If you’d like to learn more about the program for your organization, drop my a line by hitting reply.


“Peace is not won by those who fiercely guard their differences but by those who with open minds and hearts seek out connections.”
-Katherine Paterson

I’ve been a fan of Nick Boothman’s work for an age. He’s taken some terrific and sound Neuro-Linguistic Program (NLP) principles, and made them very practical and very accessible. He’s just had an expanded and revised version of his classic book Convince Them in 90 Seconds Or Less: How to Connect in Business reissued, and it’s one for the “practical classics” section of your bookshelves.

And here’s another, different type of connection. Indexed is a totally brilliant visual blog by Jessica Hagy, where she draws simple, brilliant, hilarious, razor-sharp venn diagrams and graphs to help us understand the absurdity of our lives. It’s won all sorts of recognition and awards, and it’s one of the top three blogs I read every day.


“I’ve finished that chapel I was painting. The Pope is quite satisfied.
-Michelangelo Buonarroti

My friend Jen Lounden’s created a funky new tool and ebook, The Satisfaction Finder. I know Jen well – she’s part of my “brain trust” – and I know she’s struggled with the whole “paralysis of perfection”. And in fact, haven’t we all? Those moments when we stop short because we’re suddenly daunted by what’s ahead of us. Although Jen’s audience is typically women (so guys, look a little beyond the style of the blog) this is a fantastic tool for everyone and anyone who needs a kickstart again when feeling stuck. Her “conditions of enoughness” is a really lovely, really useful concept. You can check it out here.

Don’t take my word for it

Smart people thinking out loud about quotations.

“That’s the point of quotations, you know: one can use another’s words to be insulting.
Amanda Cross

“I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.
Dorothy L. Sayers

“I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself.”
Marlene Dietrich

Collecting quotations is an insidious, even embarrassing habit, like ragpicking or hoarding rocks or trying on other people’s laundry. I got into it originally while trying to break an addiction to candy. I kicked candy and now seem to be stuck with quotations, which are attacking my brain instead of my teeth.
Robert Byrne

Like quotes too? My favourite source is Quotes of the Day. You can sign up there for a free daily dose in your inbox.

Last reminder for this Thursday’s Planning teleclass

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.
-Jim Rohn

Charlie Gilkey and I are putting on a free teleclass on The Art of Planning this coming Thursday at 2pm Eastern and I hope you’ll join us.

We’re tackling the thorny challenge of creating a plan that’s useful, sustainable and scalable. But above all, that’s useful. Charlie’s had a military career based on the art of planning and now runs the pretty fantastic Productive Flourishing blog. He’s got some really great tools he uses (and in fact I use as well), and he’ll be sharing those with you. I’ve got a structure I’ve taken and adapted from one of the biggest, most successful companies in the world.

We’ll be sharing some core insights about planning, looking at some of the barriers to what stops our current plans being useable, and sharing these great (and free) tools.

So, fancy creating a plan for you and your life that you can use? Well, sign up now here.

By the way, we’re not recording this call. So it’s now or never…

Get Unstuck & Get Going on the stuff that matters

Stuck is having only one way to see the challenge – and not liking what you see.

So you can’t move forward, but the only way you get unstuck is to do just that.


Get Unstuck and Get Going …on the stuff that matters can help. It’s a self-coaching tool, that allows you to generate new possibilities and figure out your own path forward.

It’s unique design means that you can generate nearly 50,000 different question combinations that will spark new ideas and insights. And the Action Acceleration Sheet is a simple but powerful process to help you move from Stuck to On the Move.

There’s a short video of me giving a guided tour of Get Unstuck & Get Going here.

8 Responses to 9 Quotes That Make The Difference

  • Steve Haase

    Thanks for this, Michael. I love “no plan survives contact with the enemy,” which is so true for the entrepreneur’s day, but holding how important plans are for moving forward every day. I definitely get more done on days when I have a plan–at least then I can consciously choose what I’m not doing. 🙂

  • christine marie aka depodol

    Michael you speak my language, I follow you and LOVE LOVE LOVE all your movies … you should look into this ——>

    it’s a contest to have your own show on the Oprah network ~ I would TOTALLY vote for you ! I have seen the other contestant’s videos and honestly you have WAY more to say than most of them ~ I can see you doing a show on Health & Wellbeing

    I hope you go for it 🙂

    all smiles & thank you for such inpirational blogs & movies
    ~ christine marie aka depodol

  • Leisa

    What a great, info-packed post. Going to need to set aside 30 minutes to follow all the useful links. Wow! Thanks again.

  • Coy Schweppe

    Love these quotes as I have my self a website with quotes about life. Thought it would be wise to share my favorite quote: “It’s the choices that make us who we are, and we can always choose to do what’s right.” – Peter Parker

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