This article was originally published on the WorkForce blog.
A fresh perspective is a funny, powerful thing.
If you’re willing to learn, quotes are good teachers.
They’re good at jolting our perspective.
The “Jolt” Concept
Dan Pink is one of the world’s leading business thinkers and authors. He says we can all jolt our perspectives in varying degrees by doing things for the first time. For example:
- A big jolt would be doing something engrossing, like taking a trip abroad to explore a new country and culture for the first time.
- A medium jolt could be trying something new that leaves you vulnerable, like auditioning for Community Theater without any acting experience.
- A small jolt would be a slight deviation from your norm, like taking a different route home from work or ordering something new at your “regular” restaurant.
Dan says that these jolts expose us to new experiences, which, in turn, provide us with a fresh perspective, a new lens through which to see our surroundings. Reading, of course, can achieve similar results.
Reading quotes, specifically, is an efficient way to shift your perspective for a few reasons:
- We like the immediate gratification: Digestible chunks of wisdom rev our imagination, which can give us a burst of motivation.
- We are aspirational: Being social animals, humans gravitate towards leadership. To some degree, we like being told what to do by people we respect.
- We naturally self-select: We’re drawn to what we can relate to, whether it’s a problem we’re eager to assuage or something positive we’re excited to reinforce.
In any case, these quotes offer life advice on…
"Pressure makes diamonds."
- George S. Patton, Jr.
At work: Embrace pressure. Recognize that while it can be uncomfortable and stressful, pressure generates a lot of energy.
When properly channeled, that energy can help you be more productive or creative or charming in any given circumstance.
Be happy being busy! Even when you're tired, be joyful."
- Master Sheng-yen
At work: Being busy is always better than being bored. Unless you’re in a seasonal business, being busy means you’re needed and necessary, you’re significant.
It also gives you ample opportunity to improve your skill or craft.
"Opportunity, sooner or later, comes to all who work and wish."
- Lord Stanley
At work: If you have the desire, focus, and work ethic to be successful, you’ll eventually catch a break. You will…
The essential part, then, is capitalizing on that opportunity.
"Life's ups and downs are the stuff of growth and development."
- Master Sheng-yen
At work: There are lessons around every corner, in every meeting room and personal conversation.
Wisdom is encrypted in every experience, good or bad. Those who pay attention to these lessons—internalizing and applying them—are making the most of their experiences.
"Amateurs look for inspiration; the rest of us just get up and go to work."
- Chuck Close
At work: Starting is the hardest part. Professionals are good at starting.
"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours."
- Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
At work: You have no control over other people, only over yourself.
In a difficult situation, remember to focus on your breathing, your mindset, your words and actions. Roll with the punches. What else can you do?
"Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out."
- Robert Collier
At work: You’ll be more likely to achieve your goals—whatever they may be—if you lay out a plan that helps you improve incrementally, rather than all at once.
Consider that there are snakes that go months without eating. Their hunger, eventually, drives them to catch something big—bigger than they’re used to. And then they suffocate trying to eat it.
That’s up to you.