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I'm a consultant and advisor  for social enterprises - using business to change the world.

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Quotes That Changed My Mind

Quotes That Changed My Mind

Fortune Cookie

Sometimes you hear a single sentence that sticks in your brain and permanently changes your thinking.

It might help you identify a problem.
It might change your perspective.
It might motivate you to try something new.

Here are a few that have changed my mind over the last ten years:

Ship on the rocks

“A ship in harbour is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for” – John A. Shedd
This made me realise that it’s better to account for risk than to remove risk altogether, and led to me leaving my safe job at ANZ.

“There are four areas: Sales/Marketing, Finance, HR and the Product.
A CEO needs to be an expert in one of those four, and know enough about the other three to not have the wool pulled over their eyes”
– John Leach

This combination of generalist and specialist drastically changed my reading and areas of study. No leader can afford to have gaping blind spots, and this quote gives a good sense of what the minimum standard looks like.

“I’ve never understood budgets when it comes to things like this, it costs what it costs.
If it costs more than some person in a suit thought it would doesn’t mean we’re overspending, it means your stupid guess was wrong”
– Hannah from TV’s Derek

It’s so easy to confuse a forecast with a definitive plan, and I often think of this quote whenever we review our operational budgets.

“If at the end of your career you feel compelled to give back, maybe you took too much in the first place” – Peter Allen
This idea reshaped my perception of success in business. The aim is to do well in all facets of your work, including how you treat people and the environment.

people shaking hands meeting

“People do business with people, and they do business with people they like” – Denis Kiellerup
It’s easy to get caught up in numbers and brands, but ultimately if you’re seen as a rude or untrustworthy person, your career will be harder than it needs to be.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” – Jiddu Krishnamurti
This stunner was in Tools of Titans, reminding me that just because something is normal doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it.
The time will pass anyway”
– Earl Nightingale

This reframed my perception of time commitments; something taking a while isn’t bad, especially if you had no other plans.

“In the stories of the greatest Masters, we can inevitably detect a phase in their lives in which all their future powers were in development, like the chrysalis of a butterfly.
This part of their lives – a largely self-directed apprenticeship that lasts some five to ten years – receives little attention because it does not contain stories of great achievement or discovery”

“The goal of apprenticeship is not money, a good position, a title or a diploma, but rather the transformation of your mind and character”  – Robert Greene, Mastery

This book changed my plans for the first decade of my career, and made me seek out opportunities to learn and grow, rather than to build a reputation or a sum of money.

Freedom and choices bring happiness

“They say money can’t buy happiness, but money buys freedom and choices, and freedom and choices bring me happiness” – Dave Chappelle
This quote reminds me of how powerful money is in our lives, and how we don’t notice it until it’s not there. It also reminds me that high paying jobs that restrict your freedom won’t make you happy.

“You’re allowed to be angry, you’re never allowed to be rude” – John Jeffries
A small but important distinction – this has been invaluable when working in frustrating situations.
Emotions are normal.
Taking it out on people is never ok, and you should never become comfortable with your colleagues being rude to you or your customers.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel” – Steve Furtick
This is a great reminder that our perceptions are naturally skewed towards inadequacy.
I know too much about the many failures that surrounded the successes, whereas this quote reminds me that everyone else views their work in the same way, and that comparisons generally lead to unhappiness.


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