Sunday, December 30, 2007

Solid pudding is better than empty praise

Words are cheap -- you can easily tell people how wonderful they are and how much you appreciate them, but showing that worth in a meaningful way might be more appropriate. Say it with flowers might have been an advertising slogan originally but it does have a point. A person who is given a bunch of beautiful, sweet-scented flowers has visual evidence that they are appreciated -- something that all the senses can be aware of.

Tradesmen are no doubt not immune to flattery but a cup of coffee or tea shows tangible gratitude. A retiring worker will appreciate the recounting of his many achievements and worthy contributions to the business' success but a good pension and a retirement present helps to make the words more meaningful.

Presenting the lady in your life with a solid pudding might not have quite the result you intended today, but in years gone by when people were much nearer daily starvation than is the modern reality it would have meant a great deal.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

How Proverbs Help

Proverbs have practical applications -- they can help you cope with everyday problems.

Let us assume you have been given a task to do, for example: stage a school play. You consider all the snags and problems: need for venue, props; unruly children, unhelpful parents, over helpful parents; the list is endless, you want to give up.

But wait, the proverb: Where there's a will there's a way pops into mind. Countless others have faced similar and worse difficulties and they have come to see that Faith can move mountains so it must be possible. Heartened, you move on and start.

You want it to be good... There could be a promotion if you impress the Head. So can proverbs help again? Of course: Well begun is half done. Here is some wisdom: start off with the right attitude, get the basics right and all will follow.

You are tired and want to wait, but: Don't put off till tomorrow what you can do today. So, crying: Make hay while the sun shines and Time and tide wait for no man, you leap into action.
After a time you see some achievement but, really, there is a mountain of work to be done, perhaps it's too much. No, remember: Rome wasn't built in a day, just keep going, Lost time is never found again. Keep calm, Slow and steady wins the race.

You progress, but inevitably there are some mistakes: Trial and error waste time, try thinking first, and keep in mind: From little acorns great oaks grow, and for goodness sake Look before you leap. You keep repeating the affirmation: I can and I will.

The kids are coming along fine, enthusiastic parents are making the props, the air is thick with: If at first you don't succeed try, try and try again.

Everything is looking great, but: If something seems too good to be true... The confident young guy who assured you he was a whizz on guitar turns out to know only two chords and that's his limit. Panic! Send him for lessons? No, No good flogging a dead horse, seek a replacement. Every cloud has a silver lining. It turns out the shy boy in the corner has been Hiding his light under a bushel and is a guitar maestro. He's very nervous, you tell him to keep repeating: It will be all right on the night.

Your leading lady has just fallen out with the hero. You cajole her to Let bygones be bygones. You tell him: Faint heart never won fair lady.

The Head drops by and sees all the panic, he smiles benignly and says: To err is human, to forgive divine. You quietly mutter: The devil looks after his own.

A stir heralds the arrival of a new lad. He modestly admits to being the son of an actor and very experienced on stage. You nearly hug him and cry: Cometh the hour cometh the man. He looks embarrassed, the girls all giggle.

The show is a great success but you remember Pride comes before a fall and act modestly and graciously thanking all for their assistance without which your contribution would be nothing. The Head is beaming at you: All is well that ends well.

Seasons greetings to all my readers.

William Clark

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Some Evils are Cured by Contempt

Have you ever tried to stop someone doing something that is wrong and realised they just become more obdurate and entrenched in their wrongdoing? Like a limpet that simply grips tighter the more you try to shift it.

By taking a contemptuous attitude and ignoring a problem person you might get the message across that what they are doing is not winning friends and influencing people. When they come to this understanding by themselves it will have greater impact.

Set an example of what is right and if you are looking good, confident and successful others will observe this and wish to emulate it. They will enjoy the idea that they too can then look with contempt at those still mired in evil ways.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Soft Words Win Hard Hearts

This is a truth long known by ladies who in days of warfare and conflict had to ease the mood of men inured to suffering and battle.

But diplomats who wish to bring about peace and reconciliation also have need of such skills. The natural instinct of a battle hardened warrior might be to threaten and bluster but this often just gets the backs of opponents up and guarantees constant conflict.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick", is oft quoted advice for those involved in negotiations. In other words don't try to rub your power advantage into your opposite numbers face but a gentle hint of potential accompanied with conciliatory words can lead to meaningful negotiations.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

It costs more to revenge injuries than to bear them

It costs more to revenge injuries than to bear them.

A restaurant mixes up your booking and refuses to return your deposit. You get angry, see a solicitor, he threatens to sue, they pay up then he sends you a bill for more than the original amount. Neighbours in boundary disputes often find themselves in costly litigation for little or no gain. Not worth the candle.

This saying is telling us to at least consider putting up with a slight or small damage or "grin and bear it" if the cost of dealing with it outweighs the gain. However, there is a problem with this attitude because your aggressor, if they decides that your lack of retaliation is a sign of weakens, will simply torment you further. This is the classic behaviour of the bully.

So it all boils down to a judgement call - you can save yourself a lot of bother by putting up with an injury, but if you decide the perpetrator needs a lesson be very careful how you go about it.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Reputation is oft got without merit and lost without crime

Reputation is oft got without merit and lost without crime.

The latest air-head pop star shoots to fame on a lucky-break record and sustains their place in the media spotlight with moronic, outrageous behaviour. A passably attractive girl becomes the girlfriend of a successful star and achieves celebrity status by association. A military commander achieves a victory because his even more incompetent opponent was having a worse than usual off day. Second-rate politicians win elections simply because the public are totally disillusioned with their opponents. These people will often rationalise their success and believe it was due to their inner greatness. When their balloons finally pop they disappear into media oblivion.

People of genuine ability can remain unknown and be "born to bloom and waste their sweetness on the desert air". Those who do gain recognition for their genuine ability are always at the mercy of the undeserved smear or dictates of fashion. Having built someone up the media grow bored and then, like schoolboys who have patiently constructed a sandcastle, take fiendish delight in demolition.

"Life", as they say, "is nine parts cards one part skill".

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Too much consulting confounds

Too much consulting confounds.

"Take good advice" is good advice... isn't it?

The trouble is when your ears and eyes are overflowing with information how do you decide what is good and what goes out with the garbage? After all, they also say: "A little learning is a dangerous thing, drink deep or touch not the Pieran spring".

If we assume that there are many roads to Rome and indeed the saying is: "All roads lead to Rome" perhaps we need to find one main source of advice or guidance where the guru has a proven track record, and follow that path.

Good decision makers are people who can cut, like Alexander, "through the Gordian knot", avoid all the irrelevant "noise", "cut to the chase" and "home in" on the essentials. They make it sound so easy but one suspects that long experience or luck plays its part. When it all gets a bit too much for you and the head buzzes with input just remember to KISS:

Keep it Simple Stupid.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Service without reward is punishment

Service without reward is punishment

Service is given and received by many people and varies from the selfless devotion of a mother to the latest slick marketing of something you neither need nor want, with much in-between.

Today, Remembrance Sunday, we remember the armed services and the sacrifices they make in times of trouble. We seek to show our appreciation and offer thanks to all those who gave their lives or suffered dreadful injuries in the pursuit of their duties, not forgetting their loved ones who had to continue alone or under a heavy burden.

For most of us the horrors of war are only in our imaginations and we look upon those brave souls who have been tested in the extremes of conflict as heroes. It is not enough just to admire - we need to show our appreciation in practical ways. Through contributing time, effort and money to appropriate organizations we can demonstrate that we truly do remember them and all the suffering and pain they have endured on our behalf.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Vows made in a storm are forgotten in the calm

Vows made in a storm are forgotten in the calm.

When the pressure is on our desire to be, and to be seen to be, virtuous is great. Most religions teach that there are consequences for wrong doing and that our difficulties and disasters can be seen as a punishment for sins.

In the halcyon days of good times we tend to let our guards down and start indulging in selfish behavior. When hard times come round again we are forced to consider our life styles and accept that perhaps our own actions have contributed to the situation. Our desire to be worthy and good is intensified.

There is a parallel here with politicians who are full of noble ideals and grand intentions in the hard times of opposition but when they finally move into the sunny uplands of government all that gold plating of goodness and virtue starts to wear thin. Eventually the people lose patience and throw them out into the darkness again. And so the cycle goes on.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The eagle does not catch flies.

The eagle does not catch flies.

This is a proverb from the time of the Roman Empire and has passed into many languages. The eagle standard that led the all-conquering army symbolized the mighty ambitions of the rulers of Rome.

Obviously a large bird of prey has to hunt animals of a reasonable size to justify the time and effort and it is this underlying principle that gives the proverb meaning.

One relevant aspect of this saying for today is a caution not to spend time and energy pursuing the insignificant. Everyone is very busy but do we always do too many niggling little tasks when we would be better focussing on major ones? Getting your priorities right means dealing with the big issues and not being bogged down in matters that can wait or be avoided. You might be convincing yourself that you are busy but unless the time and effort produces a meaningful return you are simple wasting time.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Zeal is like fire: it needs feeding and watching.

Zeal is like fire: it needs feeding and watching.

Enthusiasm tends to blaze brightly then fizzle out. How many millions of New Year's resolutions are made annually in a cheery glow of optimism only to have vanished by the end of January?
Sometimes this is because the intention was not properly thought through. The degree of commitment and time was not clearly understood. If a desirable benefit is to be achieved it is usually necessary to be prepared to make sacrifices - the gain must be worth the candle. Ask yourself: is it an achievable worthwhile aim or just a escapist daydream?

Having committed to an enterprise, of whatever sort it, is natural that the original impetus will falter, you should expect this and be prepared for it. It is useful to review and assess your projects from time to time and remember why you started them, and that your goals are worthy of putting up with the downsides. Taking things step by step, with definable goals and rewards along the way, can be an effective technique in maintaining that starting zeal.

May the fires of your life burn forever brightly.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

You take more care of your shoe than your foot

You take more care of your shoe than your foot.

How many ladies have risked their feet by wearing fashionable shoes that just don't fit? Probably most. The main purpose of footwear is to protect the feet but the siren call of elegance and allure overwhelm good sense, and the result is ugly bunions, crossed toes and needless suffering. Is it worth it girls? Won't he still love you in a pair of big comfortable boots? If not you could at least give him a better kick!

This saying, at a deeper level, is warning us of the human tendency to get our priorities wrong. We deal with superficialities instead of the real issues. People can become obsessed, for example, with getting money when it is the benefits of money that are important. By budgeting more wisely and making your income go further you can get the same advantages and more time to enjoy them.

Some people will push themselves to a breakdown to afford a big house they do not need, forgeting that it is the happiness of the people living in a house that is the great thing, not merely owning it. Better a happy family in a small house than a miserable one in a mansion.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Wherever a man dwells, there will be a thorn bush near his door

Wherever a man dwells, there will be a thorn bush near his door.

Wherever you live, whatever you do, there will always be problems. Perfection is unknown to mere mortals so you had better get used to life's aggravations because they are never very far away.

Civilization is primarily concerned with Man's attempt to dominate and control his environment. In the early days of life organisms slowly changed, adapted and evolved to the environments in which they lived, but humans learned to adapt the environment itself. But however good we get at it, there is always another problem. Pause for a moment, and Nature seizes the opportunity to fight back.

It follows that your life philosophy must include a "permanent effort" clause. The golden moments when everything is going great do not last, and "constant vigilance" is the watch word. There is always a thorn near you, and the chances are your foot is heading for it.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

When the pirate prays, there is great danger

A pirate, we would suppose, is an ungodly, predatory criminal who would laugh sneeringly at his victims who pleaded for mercy and prayed to their god for deliverance. But in his youth he might have had some religious instruction and would know how to pray but have rejected it in favor of a life of excess at other peoples expense. So things would have to be pretty bad before he would drop his wicked ways and turn to god for assistance.

Many people have weak religious convictions and take a skeptical attitude in their daily life but will, in a tight spot, find themselves appealing to forces greater than themselves - a prayer. Winston Churchill, the great war leader, had strict religious instruction in his youth and believed in God without question until as an adult he was exposed to other more scientific-based ideas that weakened his adherence. However, during his turbulent life when he encountered many dangers and difficulties he related that he often found himself praying.

Scientific proof that prayer actually works is hard to come by but most people when they have exhausted their human resources will often pray to what they hope is a greater reality - even the wicked godless pirate. After all, it costs nothing to try except an abandonment of selfish pride.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Where one is wise two are happy

Where one is wise two are happy.
They also say it takes two to make a quarrel and this saying is confirming that. If one individual in a relationship has the sense to avoid an unnecessary row it keeps both parties happy.

Imagine a couple: a very pretty, vain lady without a serious thought in her gorgeous head, prone to rash decisions and ill-thought-out spending sprees. If she is fortunate enough to marry a sensible, well balanced, thoughtful man who loves her deeply and who is patient and understanding, with the good sense to curb and control his wife's waywardness with forethought and planning, she is spared the worst of her own follies and leads a much happier life. Her husband is rewarded through the satisfaction of having such a delightful companion with the greatest of her follies trimmed to a bearable level without totally spoiling the spontaneity that probably attracted him to her in the first place. Result: a happy couple.

And, of course, ladies, it could work in the reverse also.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

We hate delay, yet it makes us wise

As we rush around our lives wishing we had more time there are occasions when forces outside our control bring us to a crashing halt. It is frustrating, annoying and sometimes quite maddening; if only the passing hours could be bottled and used when we needed them.

The advocates of positive thinking and right mental attitude will tell us to see adversity as an opportunity -- to turn the negative into the positive. So how do we apply that to this saying.

Compelled to stop what we are doing whilst waiting for something or someone can give a good opportunity for reflection -- time to think about your life and purposes, to evaluate your hurry, and consider opportunities. It is said that Edgar Rice Burrows, delayed on a train trip, spent the time reading a cheap novel. He threw it down in disgust saying: "I could do better myself." Then the idea came to him: "Why not?" He took his own advice and went on to write the world famous "Tarzan" books.

The time to stop and think should be included in all our daily activities but it seldom is and often it is only when forced to a halt by chance do we get the opportunity. So the next time you are unwillingly delayed try a spot of positive thinking, and see if you can bring about an improvement in your life. Every cloud has a silver lining -- just take the time to look for it.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Death is in the pot.

Death is in the pot.

There can be few people today who are unaware of the consequences of a faulty diet. Gone are the days when gorging and over consumption were thought of as the joyful prerogative of the noble and wealthy. They should have cottoned on when King Henry the VIII died of a surfeit of lampreys.

The food we eat has a major influence on the state of our health. Food nutrition scientists now know what common sense used to tell the wise - a varied diet of fresh food keeps us in peak condition and therefore helps to sustain a long life. Modern athletes have their diets scrutinized in the finest detail in order to maximize their fitness and functioning efficiency.

Obesity is a problem so there must still be a lot of people who, though aware of the problem, lack the will power to avoid the wrong foods. It could be that some people are unlucky and have a fat gene or a fault somewhere but this saying tells us that it is worthwhile to think before you eat. The best way to avoid overindulgence is not to have a lot of the wrong food in the house. Go shopping when you are full, not hungry, and buy the sensible stuff.

On the other hand you could throw caution to the wind and live like a medieval king - "eat, drink and be merry" and snuff it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

He that is not in the wars is not out of danger.

He that is not in the wars is not out of danger.

You can chose to avoid a conflict but the outcome might affect your interests and safety in any case.

This saying is warning us of the danger of sticking our heads in the sand and ignoring problems we are not immediately connected with. Conflicts have a habit of spreading and engulfing those who do not wish to get involved. Sometimes it is better to "take action against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them" as Shakespeare said.

It is an observation that can be applied to many situations and not just wars. Everyone has problems, disputes and difficulties, and it is sometimes better to tackle them head on rather than waiting for the tide to be lapping at your doorstep before taking action. It is all part of the idea of being prepared and practicing prevention.

The current hot topic is global warming and we are being urged to do something before catastrophe strikes. The natural tendency is not to worry about dangers that seem a long way off, after all we could spend all our time worrying about the many possibilities of disaster that could happen. It is necessary to find out the facts before make a judgment on the strength of potential harm and act accordingly.

Those of a worried disposition are often told: "Cheer up! It might never happen." But what if it does?

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Reputation is commonly measured by the acre.

Reputation is commonly measured by the acre.

In the day and age when most wealth was in the form of land ownership this saying would be readily understood.

We all know people whose standing in a community is assessed not on their abilities or achievements but on the wealth that they own. There is an observable tendency for people to hero worship success and ascribe great worth to those who have acquired the things we all tend to envy. Inherited wealth might fall into the hands of a naturally able person who is given a good education by wise parents and this can lead to a flourishing of someone's talents, albeit as a result of privilege. It can also fall into the hands of unsuitable persons who will abuse the luck that fortune has bestowed.

The individual who succeeds on their own merit is not immune to folly either. A singer, for example, might become fabulously wealth by using their God given talent and the masses will wish to follow their styles, clothes, haircuts etc. and regard their every utterance as gospel. But very often they are one-trick ponies and their opinions and activities outside their one area of competence are no better and probably worse than average.

In assessing a person's ability it is important to go on the facts and not judge by appearances or possessions.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

A colt is worth nothing unless he break his cord

A colt is worth nothing unless he break his cord.

A dull, docile horse might have its uses but without a bit of youthful spirit it does not show much promise.

Applied to humans this saying is telling us that a young man who kicks over the traces is not necessarily all bad, just experiencing the difficulties of growth and adaptation that we all must go through. Many young men pass through a tearaway phase in their youth but later mature into fine adults and worthy partners and fathers.

The rites of passage from youth to adulthood are often fraught with conflicts and emotional outbursts as the young person struggles to come to an understanding of themselves and the time that they are a part of. If everyone accepted the status quo in a dull-witted, subservient manner there would never be any progress. A civilization must have the flexibility and strength to be constantly adaptation to new challenges and changing circumstances.

The careers of many successful people often show a time when they were rebels and perhaps helped to establish a new trend. Such people can often refer back to a time when an establishment figure told them they were a waste of space and would amount to nothing in life. Years later they are multimillionaires and their critic is still doing a boring regular job or surviving on a small pension. Some young men are, of course, just a complete pain and need a good telling to put them right, and you can never be sure if it was the wise old voice that set them on the right course, by giving them something to prove, or they would have achieved everything anyway.

A spirited colt, once broken in and trained, makes a fine horse. As another saying has it: Fortune favors the bold.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Judge no man by his clothes, but by his wife's clothes

Judge no man by his clothes, but by his wife's clothes

This saying was probably more appropriate in the days when men were the main bread winners but with a hint that the ladies were more in control than might be thought. Men generally are less concerned with their own appearance but take a pride in the attractiveness of their womenfolk. In some societies it was the custom for a man who was making money to buy gold as a form of saving and investment that was then worn by his wife in the form of jewelry.

A tradesman in dingy work apparel might have a well dressed wife at home proud of the fact that her skilled, hard working, though somewhat unkempt, husband was earning a lot of money. His pleasure coming from the happiness and enhanced attractiveness of the girl he loved and who enjoyed spending his money.

Nowadays many women earn more than their husbands so perhaps we will have to reverse this saying.

And yes, you can make up your own jokes about this!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Adversity makes a man wise not rich

Adversity makes a man wise not rich.

In adverse circumstances you can either flee or face up to the problems and deal with them.
To take them on requires knowledge and understanding i.e. wisdom. This wisdom comes from experience, observation, trial and error and the counsel of others. Over time and with test and trial this mix refines itself into rules of thumb and guiding principles. It enables us to cope, and that is often all that we will be able to do.

It makes a great story when someone overcomes many obstacles and difficulties and goes on to great triumph and financial reward, so it is a story to be told and retold. For most of us, no matter what the hardships and dangers overcome, we can but expect to survive and carry on.

No bard will sing our praises, our tale will languish untold, except perhaps to our nearest, but we will have survived and have the personal satisfaction of knowing we faced the worst and somehow overcame adversity - and have become a far wiser person as a result.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Prosperity lets go the bridle

Prosperity lets go the bridle.

When learning to ride a horse you make sure to keep a firm grip of the reins and pay close attention to the actions of your mount. If you get over confident, let your attention wander and the horse gets spooked, you could be in for a hard landing.

People experiencing financial hardship learn the disciplines necessary for their survival. Money must be carefully budgeted, earnings must be maximized where possible, savings must be made whenever they can be, and waste eliminated. Your affairs must be constantly scrutinized to make sure you are making the most of what you have. If, after a time, your prudent management and hard work brings a measure of prosperity the tendency is to relax and enjoy. Soon relax becomes slack and then downright excess leading to debt and galloping expenses.

In the old mill towns of Industrial Age Britain they had a saying: "clogs to clogs in three generations". The first generation were poor and worked hard to get on. Their children knew poverty in childhood but witnessed their parents struggles and learned the habits of thrift and industry, and with the meager gains of mom and pop went on to do well and achieve such prosperity that their children never knew hardship. The unfortunate result was a squandered inheritance by the third generation and back to poverty - no more expensive leather shoes but a return to the cheap wooden clogs of their grandparents.

By all means enjoy success but never forget the hard lessons and keep a tight rein on spending.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Many are called but few are chosen.

The Many are called but few are chosen.

The world is full of wannabes and simple statistics tell us that only a small number can succeed: there just aren't enough success slots for everyone.

The filters that separate the wheat from the chaff include genuine ability, suitability, qualifications and things like being in the right place at the right time. Who you know is more important than what you know is another relevant saying here and is probably as true now as back in the days of aristocracy and wealthy capitalists. Some make it by trickery and dishonesty using charm and guile to evade detection and retribution. The human race is a many-faceted group and ingenuity will often find unexpected paths to the coveted goals we, sometimes mistakenly, call success.

And what of those who are left behind? Do they spend the rest of their days in miserable ignominy? Some might but most just shrug their sholuders and get on with it. Success doesn't always bring happiness, as Kipling put it: "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat these two imposters just the same; ... you'll be a man, my son."

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A man without money is a bow without arrow.

A man without money is a bow without arrow.

Ability requires opportunity and resources in order to show its worth.

If a good hunter and a bad hunter set out to find food for the tribe and the best one has an accident and loses his arrows he is unlikely to return with any game. The poor archer might get lucky and make a kill. If not the tribe will starve. Should common sense prevail the less able bowman will give his arrows to the proficient one and they will share the catch.

In the modern world bows and arrows can be bought but we have more sophisticated ways of "bringing home the bacon". Anyone starting a business so that they have the means to support their family will usually find it necessary to have start up capital. If they have a lot of ability but are unproven they might find raising this very difficult whereas their less able cousin who has the good fortune of a legacy will have an inbuilt advantage. Again a pooling of resources might bring the most advantage to all.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Put your foot down where you mean to stand.

Put your foot down where you mean to stand.

This makes you think of ancient warriors placing their standard and vowing to fight to the death like Ancient Greek Spartans or Cheyenne Dog Soldiers.

Many an old time battle was lost or won entirely on the nature of the terrain. The important point here is to be sure of your ground before getting into a conflict. This was literally true in war where charging at an enemy and discovering your horses were stuck in a bog invited disaster. This taught the general idea of not getting into a dispute without a good grasp of all the details and likely consequences. If you take a stand on something you are "pinning your colors to the mast" and can expect opponents to start taking pot shots.

This applies to your everyday life when you decide to be confrontational on a point of principle or in a conflict with your boss or a customer. You must make sure you have the advantage before taking action "be sure of your ground"; ideally this means you will know your facts and be in the right. If you are confident of the outcome you can then deal firmly with the problem.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Life is nine parts cards - one part skill.

Life is nine parts cards - one part skill.

How do some people succeed and others fail?

Commonsense tells you that the number of people who can get the plum jobs is limited. It is a statistical thing. An army of officers wouldn't win many battles no matter how good their orders were. A company of brilliant bosses wouldn't get a lot of work done without the sloggers. If everyone became a millionaire a million would not buy very much.

Success is relative and for most people comes through being the right person in the right place at the right time. Get your place and timing wrong and the glittering career will not be yours. Conversely, if you are a complete incompetent your best opportunities will be wasted.

But if you get the lucky breaks and apply your skill success can be achieved. This saying seems to be telling us that ability cannot flourish unless there is some form of opportunity and these opportunities are limited. In other words you need the lucky break (good cards) and only then can your skills be used to take advantage. It would appear that when Lady Luck smiles it is time to get cracking and make the most of it. Every dog has his day.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Proverbs & Personal Growth

The blog is now available as an ebook: "Proverbs Can Make You a Wise Man"

Benefit from ancient wisdom.
As the glories of summer fade, leaves drift from trees to form a deep, leaf bed. In time this creates a nutrient-rich earth and new plants surge in the spring sunshine. The past passes its richness to the present.

It is your legacy.
Countless millions of people have lived on our planet since life began. During the course of their existence certain insights, recurring ideas, pieces of knowledge or wisdom helped them understand the human condition and cope with its problems. These were condensed into short, memorable, pithy sayings known as proverbs, maxims, axioms and the like. The Proverbs of the Nations accumulated and now provide a powerful source of knowledge and understanding to fortify and sustain your life. Your forebears have left you this legacy.

Learn to use it.
This book will show you how to utilize this vast store of priceless wisdom to lead a happy and fulfilled life. You can undo the damage of false thinking, spin, marketing and all the artificial, trendy gone-in-a-minute attitudes poisoning the human spirit with deception and delusion. Proverbs are organic and natural - created by ordinary people in moments of extraordinary insight.

The perfect solution for your needs.
Think of proverbs as rows of little bottles on a shelf in a pharmacy or herbalist's store. Each labeled and of a different color. You need to locate the phial for your specific problem. The good thing about proverbs is you can try them all without ill effect. But searching out the perfect one at any particular moment is more difficult. Opening pages at random can lead to amazing, enlightening discoveries but a more systematic approach can be helpful when time is short.

"Proverbs Can make You a Wise Man" is best used by dipping into the book whenever you feel the need for advice, consolation, inspiration or thought-provoking ideas. Contains all the entries in Power up with Proverbs but edited and expanded with the opportunity to search on keywords.

Purchase with the peace-of-mind guarantee of a full refund if not delighted. Only $17
Click the Buy Now button. Make payment then download Adobe PDF ebook.

Thank you, William Clark.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Reproof never does a wise man harm.

Reproof never does a wise man harm.

How do you react when someone tells you off? It is a personality thing. Extroverts will become angry, possibly insulting and wish to retaliate immediately. Introverts will avoid conflict but will go off to ponder the matter and possibly seek revenge quietly. These are the extremes but what should a well-balanced ordinary individual do?

The first consideration is: is this reproof deserved. If "yes" then you should take it in the proper spirit, apologize if necessary, and resolve to be wiser in future. Don't shoot the messenger.

If undeserved, remaining calm and attempting to explain is usually the best course. If the reprover will not listen it might be best to remember: oppose not force while force is at its rage but stay awhile and let it waste. When everyone has calmed down, hopefully, reason will prevail.

Setbacks are often the starting point to advances and should be seen as an opportunity to retrench and prepare for better things.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Small faults let in greater.

Small faults let in greater.

This saying sounds suspiciously like the Great Granddaddy of the zero tolerance policy!

Breaking small rules is the slippery slope to a momentum that can send you hurtling to disaster. The child who discovers that they can get away with dropping litter, swearing at parents and bullying small kids will grow in confidence that they are smart and above the law.
The buzz from petty crimes will soon lessen and those desiring bigger kicks will seek to challenge authority more and more. They graduate through the ranks of crime and when it is too late the inevitable confrontation with the police happens and they get banged up. In prison they run the risk of being further brutalized and emerging as hardened criminals who can only think of bigger and better crimes as a way of getting on.

Regular, fair discipline is the only way to train the human mind to follow the rules and find a constructive path to success and happiness. As a sapling is inclined so will the tree grow.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Beauty without grace is a violet without scent.

Beauty without grace is a violet without scent.

Great beauty is a form of power. Many a powerful man has been reduced to a whimpering wreck by love of a fair maid. Literature and history abound with beautiful women who have used their influence over men to change the course of events. Names like Cleopatra, Madam Pompadour, Catherine the Great evoke images of female beauty interacting with the lives of famous and powerful men to affect the destiny of nations.

Perfection of form and face might suggest a noble soul but this does not always prove true. Handsome men are often depicted as overpowering and cruel leaving a string of sullied beauties in their turbulent wake but femme fatales can be just as deadly.

This proverb tells us that to have beauty that is only skin deep is not enough, it is necessary to have the wisdom and good sense to use its power with regard and respect for others. The eye is attracted to the violet by its color but the attention lingers due to the delightful scent. In days gone by people thought of the scent of a flower as being its essence in the way that the soul was the essence of the human form. Flower : scent. Body : soul.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Looking at a disaster and wishing it hadn't happened is not very helpful. If you were the cause all the excuses in the world won't put it right. Crying over spilt milk doesn't put it back in the pail. The best you can do is learn from the experience and resolve never to let it happen again.

This leads you to the idea of prevention. That is to stop something from happening by anticipating the problem and taking steps to avoid it. Using foresight or looking ahead is a good habit to cultivate. Many mothers acquire this naturally and foresee the dangers likely to confront their children and plan ahead to protect them before disaster strikes. But it applies to all peoples of all ages - we should anticipate problems and dangers for ourselves and others. Our actions might lead to friends or strangers suffering loss or accidents and we have a moral duty to avoid this.

There are many associated sayings with this idea. Look before you leap. Forewarned is forearmed. Who hinders not a mischief is guilty of it. Remember: an accident foreseen is an accident you can avoid.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

The man who never made a mistake never made anything.

The man who never made a mistake never made anything.

This is great consolation as you look at the pipe you have just burst or the piece of wallpaper the lady in your life has noticed is upside down.

Mistakes do happen even to the most able of people. It might be your technique is lacking or your attention wandered or you have grown tired and need a break. Whatever, sooner or later something will go wrong. The important thing is how you react to this. Throw a tantrum? Kick the cat? Blame everyone in earshot? No, this might bring temporary relief but it solves nothing. All the sages will tell you to think positively: learn what you don't know, clear out distractions, have a rest. Tackle the issue, deal with it, move on.

Many people who dream of success never get down and dirty with it because of their fear of failure. Keep repeating this saying and resolve to tackle something new. And even if it is a total disaster you will have tried, and remember: third time lucky. If at first you don't succeed try, try, and try again.

As someone once said: The greatest mistake is fearing to make one.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A good horse never lacks a saddle

A good horse never lacks a saddle.

When there is a choice no one is going to pick a poor horse to go riding with, are they? Why give yourself unnecessary hassle?

This saying tells us that quality attracts success. An able person finds it easier to get a job. A good looking person is never short of dates. A good shop is never short of customers.

Present yourself well. Make sure that you have the best tools, education, clothes, car you can get and you won't go short of people who want to know you. Then, unlike the horse, you can be picky about who you want to associate with!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

All roads lead to Rome.

All roads lead to Rome.

This dates from the time of the Roman Empire when this would have been literally true of much of Europe. The Romans built great roads to move goods and troops with superb efficiency.

When the military might of Rome had passed away and been replaced with the power of the Roman Catholic Church this was used more metaphorically. In other words all true paths led to religious salvation. Whatever you were doing in life the true purpose was to get you to Heaven.

Perhaps today it could be understood as implying that all life has a common objective, whatever that might be.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A good wife and health are a man's best wealth

A good wife and health are a man's best wealth.

The stress must be on the good part of this saying.

Finding a good match, that ideal partner is fundamental to domestic happiness. Most people rely on their instincts in choosing a mate but how much is natural attraction and how much rationalized from acquired attitudes. If you have the wrong attitudes and values you might be seeking the wrong kind of person. If you end up with a mismatch then your health could suffer from the stress and worry that the rows and disagreements create.

If you are lucky and find that perfect life companion your happiness and good sense will help to give the best chance for a long, happy and healthy existence.

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Sunday, April 08, 2007

Good luck come by cuffing

Good luck come by cuffing.

This saying seems to date to an era when spare the rod and spoil the child was common advice to parents.

The idea being that well brought up children who have been taught firm discipline are more likely to succeed, and therefore appear "lucky" to their less fortunate peers. Learning at the school of hard knocks is a similar idea.

You cannot cuff your children today but if you want them to grow up to expect good fortune then teaching them the importance of disciplined, regular hard work will increase their chances of success.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

A good head will get itself hats.

A good head will get itself hats.

Someone with a good head i.e. a competent, able person is likely to achieve success and wear the hat signifying their position.

Quite often, in many diverse human societies, rank or social importance has been indicated by the type of headgear a person wore. In the Britain of the Victorian era, lasting to around W.W.II when the fashion for men wearing hats died out, the managerial classes wore bowler hats and the workers a flat cap. The expression going cap in hand to the boss denotes this subservience.

In Native American tribes the war bonnet of eagle feathers showed someone who had demonstrated their courage and achievement in battle. A brave with a cool head in a crisis could get a feather in his cap.

The different ranks in organized armies often have different hats so that the soldiers know who to follow and salute. The ambitious person might aim to get himself promoted with the vision of putting on the coveted hat symbol. In the UK, paratroopers aspire to wear the red beret that shows they have achieved the honor of membership of the Parachute Regiment.

A Scottish Highland chieftain is entitled to have an eagle feather in his bonnet as an insignia of his position and the more important ones have two. The ultimate hat symbol of success is the monarch's crown.

Hats of course are also worn by ladies to enhance and project their femininity. There is an old saying to set one's cap at from the 18th century, when women wore fine, white linen or muslin caps that needed to be tied in place with ribbon. It meant trying to win a man's affections by setting a jaunty angle to their cap and showing off the crowning glory of their hair.

The Easter bonnet is worn by Christian churchgoers and is a colorful way of expressing the joy of the return of spring.

So, if you want to get ahead get a hat.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Work wont kill but worry will

Work wont kill but worry will.

They also say "hard work never harmed anyone, but how true is that? There are many work-related illnesses, and indeed the fingers typing this entry suffer from RSI! So it makes sense to worry about over-work or poor working conditions.

If that isn't bad enough the worry itself can be a problem. Stress, high blood pressure, ulcers, heart attacks, nervous breakdowns can all be linked to stress at work.

Learning good coping mechanisms, sensible working practices and getting appropriate time off for rest and relaxation is imperative. It is often the hardworking conscientious person who suffers most and a good, responsible manager will see to it that this type of person is not unduly and unfairly burdened. Do not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

He that would right understand a man must read his whole story

He that would right understand a man must read his whole story

How often have you jumped to conclusions about someone then had to revise your opinion later? If you are a typical human it will have been quite often. First impression can be misleading and it is often necessary to give the benefit of the doubt.

Have you ever watched a TV account of a crime where the story is revealed bit by bit, showing the offense and the accusations. The evidence mounts up, people condemn the suspect, but as the end nears we are told other facts which leave us in no doubt that the person is innocent even though for most of the time we were convinced of their guilt.

Sometimes we need to make up our minds about someone very quickly and it is only human to err on the side of caution, but condemning someone on slight knowledge of the facts can and does lead to injustices. It is because of this our system of justice has developed to demand proof and testable evidence before conviction. This means that some guilty people go free but better that than the totally innocent languishing in jail.

It is important to get the facts and be wary of those with a vested interest in the outcome.


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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Light burdens long borne grow heavy

Light burdens long borne grow heavy

The drip, drip drip of water will eventually wear a hole in the hardest stone. The pounding waves relentlessly scouring the shore grind pebbles to sand. The tallest volcano gradually erodes to form soil. Time conquers all.

In relationships, petty aggravations long borne can suddenly flare up and lead to a major row and separation. From time to time you read in the newspapers how someone has flipped after 50 years of marriage and killed their partner. It is important to attend to recurring minor niggles before the last straw breaks the camels back.

A machine with a small fault that is ignored can sometimes cause an accident resulting in death or serious injury because the user has grown complacent. A driver with dodgy brakes crashes and kills someone. A smoker, little by little, damages their lungs until one day they are diagnosed with cancer.

This proverb is counseling you that you should look at the little problems in your life from time to time and see that they are put right. There is no point in tearfully claiming "it worked OK for years, I never thought it would do that!" The burden of your failure to act could weigh on you for the rest of your life.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

He that would have the fruit must climb the tree

He that would have the fruit must climb the tree

Taken at face value this is not strictly true - ripe fruit will fall into your hands, and the low hanging fruit is easily grasped. This parallels many life situations where those first on the scene get the easy pickings.

After a new situation has settled down most people find they have to try hard to get what the lucky ones managed with ease. The first settlers in a new land get their pick of the best areas and the latecomers have to work for their share. When a new business opportunity or industry is starting it is often easier to succeed as the low hanging fruit is there for the taking. Have a look at the earliest films and see how easily pleased the first audiences were. Anyone with a cine-camera was assured of an appreciative audience. The acting was hammy and the directing dismal but it was new and exciting. Later, people wanted more sophisticated stuff and film makers had to develop a lot of skills and techniques to please them.

So, if the early birds have got all the worms, or fruit, be prepared to put in the effort to climb the ladder of success.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

He that is a master must serve

He that is a master must serve

We might have an image of the master as a kind of despotic oriental potentate whose every whim is a command, but in most communities the role of master or leader has a purpose.

A group of people cannot easily act together unless there is coordination of their activities and this requires a coordinator. He, it is usually a he, has appeared throughout history in the form of the chief, the king, the captain, or boss of some sort. This is often an extension of the normal position of the father as head of the family. In no way does this negate the position of women who can take the lead when circumstances require it, there have been some brilliant queens, but traditionally the female role has been a powerful supporting one.

To a young member of that society the leader might seem an all powerful, godlike figure but ultimately he is there to serve the needs of the people so that their society can function more efficiently. Tyrants who usurp this natural and necessary power usually don't last long.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pleasing goods are half sold

Pleasing goods are half sold

Anything you wish others to acquire must appeal to them. It is an acknowledged truth that we tend to judge a book by its cover when a sensible appraisal of its contents is the better way. An object or service needs to appeal to our senses first - if it looks right then it usually is right.

Our first impressions tend to be lasting so the seller of wares should seek to create a pleasing impact that will linger. Not only should it do what it says on the tin but the tin should tell its own story

The con man knows this too, but he seeks to sell the impression alone with no substance - the proverbial pig in a poke.

Buyers must therefore be aware - by all means follow your eye but make sure to use your other senses and reasoning power to test that it is the real McCoy. Check carefully before making a decision to buy.

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

Who'll not save a penny will never have many

Who'll not save a penny will never have many

We all know the importance of earning a living - long gone are the ancestral days when scraping by on what the farm or cottage plot would provide was the only option. The modern economy means the division of labor and a steady income. The problem is your earnings never seem enough. A wage rise is often followed by an expectations rise and soon you are back to square one.

But are you using your existing income wisely? How many things do you buy that are not really necessary? By learning to budget and spend with good sense most people will find their money going a lot further than they thought possible. Remember, a penny saved is a penny gained with no need to pay tax and expenses on the getting of it. So it is worth a lot more than a penny earned.

Resolve to review your spending and expectations level. Be realistic and prudent: organize your life sensibly for the optimum benefit from existing income. Then, who knows, your newfound good sense might just lead your boss to think you are someone worth keeping and worthy of a rise!

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Better short of pence than short of sense.

Better short of pence than short of sense.

Everybody has money worries: there is always another bill to pay, new shoes for the kids, unexpected car repairs - the list is endless. It often seems that the royal road to happiness has to be a large lottery win. With lots of money life would be idyllic - seems obvious - a no-brainer.

The reality often is that lots of cash brings lots of problems and temptations. Stable marriages break up as the newly rich become self-obsessed. Kids with too much spending money are tempted by excess indulgence in alcohol, drugs, and unsuitable relationships. The dream can quickly turn into a nightmare - and spending more money often makes it worse.

A poor person with sense can often find contentment by living within their means and learning to appreciate the things that are free. Good friends, a stroll in the park, pottering in the garden, reading a library book, learning a new skill. Pretty soon they are in danger of becoming wealthy in the things that matter and make life worthwhile.

In an ideal world you would have plenty of money and the good sense to use it wisely, but wisdom rarely comes without experience, and if you have a lot of spending power your learning mistakes will be correspondingly greater.

Perfection is for gods - the rest of us have to manage as best we can.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Be still and have thy will

Be still and have thy will

This sounds like the lazy man's philosophy but is there any truth in it?

How many times have you expended a great deal of time and effort on a project to eventually conclude that it was all a waste of time and you would have been better off doing nothing? It does happen. Everything come to him who waits is another saying in this vein. Masterly inactivity is sometimes seen as the best way to cope with a problem. Very often finding the right time to act is the key, and knowing when to do nothing is a shrewd part of this. You can be too clever for your own good so try looking before you leap and thinking first.

Dozing in your bed can sometimes be the best way to get things done.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

The little which is good fills the trencher

The little which is good fills the trencher

In a world of obese people this old saying should make instant sense. Good health comes from moderation and where there is good health there is likely to be good sense.

How many offers do you see where the seller tries to impress you with the amount that you will get, believing that you will fall for all the bonus offers? What you really want is quality: something that does what it is supposed to do and brings the benefits that you need.

Children who overeat are often told that "their eyes are bigger than their bellies" but at all ages humans can be deceived by quantity versus quality. A little of what you fancy does you good; too much can kill you!

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

One today is worth two to-morrows

One today is worth two to-morrows

Procrastination, putting things off till tomorrow is often expressed in the Spanish word manĂ£na. Something postponed till tomorrow very often never gets done.

"Don't put off till tomorrow what can be done today" is much the same idea and "Strike while the iron is hot" conveys a similar concept of "action now". "There is no time like the present". "Just do it".

Many people have recognised and proverbalised our tendency to use a postponement as a lazy excuse to avoid an irksome but necessary task - after all "tomorrow might never come".

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Little chips light great fires

Little chips light great fires

Stone Age man discovered this hundreds of thousands of years ago when he used two sticks and a lot of effort to start his tinder smoking. Add little dry pieces of wood and very soon you can burn whole trees.

This principle of starting small and gradually building up has been used countless times through countless ages by countless people - it works. The problem is that it needs patience and persistence so many people give up too soon. If you know that something really does work it is necessary to give it the time and effort it needs.

You too can experience the pleasure and satisfaction of a great blaze in whatever field of interest you choose if you get the little chips working for you.

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