Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Slow and steady wins the race.

Aesop's fable has the tortoise win a race with the hare because the hare was so complacent he stopped for a nap. This proverb gives us comfort when we are in competition with a superior opponent - if we keep our nerve and proceed steadily they might slip up. It also cautions us not to hurry a job and risk botching it.

Monday, February 27, 2006

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

Most people at some time dream of becoming a gypsy and wandering romantically through the countryside in a wagon. This saying warns us that a settled, steady existence is the most prudent for growing affluent. Perhaps the traveler is the wealthier in terms of relaxed enjoyment but not in worldly goods. You make your choice...

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Don't flog a dead horse.

The story of most great achievements involves periods when someone kept going against all the odds. People mocked, explained why it couldn't be done, dismissed it as lunacy - but tough, determined individuals don't give up and eventually triumph, don't they? If the idea really is a dud you must at some point admit defeat and "cut your losses". It is all a matter of judgment and probably a little bit of luck.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We don't usually set out to be bad but it is easy to slip into wrong ways. That little extra drink, just one more chocolate and we'll start the diet tomorrow, and then tomorrow. But tomorrow is a day that never comes. It is not enough just to want to do the right thing, you must exercise disciple and determination to achieve your goals.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Have not your cloak to make when it starts to rain.

This is another variation on the "be prepared" theme. Thinking ahead means we can foresee likely problems and have the means to cope with them at hand. Putting some money aside means ease of mind when the inevitable bills hit the mat. "A little forethought saves much afterthought"

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Many's a mickle maks a muckle

This is from Scotland and helps to confirm the Scottish stereotype of being very careful with your money :-). A mickle is a small amount and a muckle a large one. Saving regularly will build up a tidy sum. Other life tasks that might seem daunting like starting on the garden or writing a novel will yield to regular small steps.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The mould of a man's future is in his own hands - Francis Bacon

Why sit feeling sorry for yourself when by effort and application you can change your life for the better. Go to college, study for a degree or learn plumbing, start a business, write a book. You might not be a great success but at least you have tried. "Do it now, son" a workmate said to Billy Connolly the Scottish entertainer when he was a shipyard worker. Billy took his advice and is now a wealthy estate owner whilst many of his former workmates are on state benefits.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Good business is business with profits to both sides.

You might think it clever to outsmart a business opponent but for long term relationships building trust is best. Everyone needs to eat and that means earning money in today's world. Let the other guys have their share and they will want to do business with you again.

Monday, February 20, 2006

If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be as tedious as to work.

This is a quote from Shakespeare. How often, when hard pressed at work, have you dreamed of winning the lottery and enjoying a life of idleness and ease? The great bard warns us here that you enjoy leisure because it is a contrast to work. Without a spell of industry we will not get the same satisfaction from our time off. A good balance between work and play is best for everyone.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Even the wisest get bitten but only the foolish get bitter.

It is not possible to go through life without experiencing difficulties. Bullying, being ripped off, hurtful words or blows - who can avoid some harm. As the American poet, Longfellow, put it: "Into every life a little rain must fall." The important thing is not to develop a victim mentality; you must fight back and restore you self confidence and pride. As the song says: "Pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and start all over again".

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Lost time is never found again.

Boredom is when you have time and nothing to do; if only we could save this unwanted time and use it when we are hard pressed. It is important to use our limited life spans as wisely as possible. Good time management means a more efficient life and better balance of the competing demands of work and play.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Time and tide wait for no man.

In the great scheme of things as individuals we are of little consequence. No matter what our earthly achievements we must still be at the mercy of the fundamental facts of existence. King Canute couldn't hold back the tides and neither can we. The lesson here is to act at the proper time. Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Look before you leap

If you don't you might end up "jumping from the frying pan into the fire". This is advice to be cautious and think first before taking major decisions. It contrasts with "he who hesitates is lost" and shows that in some cases you just can't win - ponder for too long and the bolder person grabs the prize but it might prove to be a booby prize that the timid person avoids.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Nothing succeeds like success.

We all know someone who seems to have the Midas Touch of turning everything to gold. Good foundations and preparation as discussed before gather a momentum which helps to keep success going. Everyone likes to be associated with the up and coming star. When you get a lucky break try to keep it going.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It is always darkest before the dawn.

When we are facing prolonged difficulties this saying can help us to keep going that bit longer. There are many stories of last minute success when people have been on the point of giving up. Columbus only found America by pleading with his unhappy crew to try for one more day.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Well begun is half done

If you start off right and prepare properly most jobs will continue well. For example when building a shed it is important to lay the foundations accurately so that the sides and roof will fit properly. Skimping on the planning and tools will tend to cause problems to grow and worsen. "Be prepared" is a good motto. Another proverb "Make haste slowly" contains the essence of many a rueful conclusion as a botched job is contemplated.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The willing horse gets the work.

It is always easier to get an obliging person to do something than a truculent one but this can lead to exploitation, and before long it can result in: "the final straw that breaks the camel's back". If you are willing and eager then people will want you to work for them but make sure you are not overworked.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

All that glitters is not gold

We are often attracted to something or someone with superficial qualities. It doesn't last; we discover no true value. Compare it with: Beauty is only skin deep. We should not be fooled by external appearances. The Poet, Robert Burns, put it: "Rank is but the guinea's stamp, the man's the gowd (gold) for a' that."

Friday, February 10, 2006

He who dares wins.

This is the motto of the elite British fighting unit the S.A.S. It echoes Shakespeare's: "Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." Our worries and indecision can prevent us gaining but caution and good judgment is required as another proverbs illustrates: Only Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Where there's a will there's a way.

It is very easy to give up when confronted with a problem but perseverance will often lead to success. Be determined and a solution to your difficulty will usually appear. This proverb echoes the sentiments of another: "If at first you don't succeed - try, try, and try again". The Scottish King, Robert the Bruce, had tried six times to free his country from occupation and failed. Whilst hiding in a cave he saw a spider try six time to bridge a gap and said, "if it succeeds in the next try I will fight again." It did, and he went on to drive out his enemies.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Make hay while the sun shines.

Our ancestors mainly lived by tilling the land and keeping cattle. Hay could only be cut and dried if the weather was good. Nowadays not many of us need to make hay but we do need to be prepared for events that are dependent on circumstances. Have some spare cash for the sale bargains, or ask the boss for a rise when he is in a good mood.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

A Stitch in time saves nine.

Not so long ago people had to make do and mend. Clothes were more expensive and had to be repaired with needle and thread. If a tear is caught quickly it doesn't rip further. So the wisdom here is to tackle a small problem at the outset before it develops into a bigger one. Put another way: "nip it in the bud". It is often applied to people's relationships: saying "sorry" quickly can prevent a lengthy quarrel developing.

Monday, February 06, 2006

A nimble sixpence is worth a slow shilling.

This is an old English proverb. The sixpence and shilling are UK coins from pre-decimalisation days. A sixpence (known as a "tanner") was worth half of a shilling (a "bob"). This proverb is telling us that a shopkeeper turning over a lot of small items can do better than when selling a few more pricey ones. There is also a subtext implying that a little guy who is smart and quick can compete with someone bigger but not so nimble witted. A small innovative business can run rings around an old slow-changing big one. Compare the story of David and Goliath in the Christian Bible. Or even Tom and Jerry in the Disney cartoons!

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