28 October 2011

Watchout for Learning from Quotations

Quotes could be dangerous. They did not tell you the context and you can easily misunderstand and wrongly apply them. Know the danger and learn how to apply them wisely.
Many people on the social network like to share inspirational quotes, success quotes, etc. Quotes from the rich and famous are powerful. They are short and inspirational. However, their short-comings come exactly from their strength of conciseness and impact.

The Dangers are:
  1. It is not the whole story. It is very high level and do not give the full picture.
  2. It could be misunderstood and misinterpreted. The context and situation are usually not described.
  3. It could be wrong due to the first two dangers for lack of details and misunderstanding.
The Precautions:
  1. Understanding the dangers described above is the first step.
  2. Know that there are other details that need to be filled in by you. The quote is just from a viewpoint. Get the other viewpoints. 
  3. Determine the situation where it is applicable. I tell my students that the best answer to other questions is "It depends". The right answer is usually tied to a particular group of people for a particular situation. We need to expand the boundary and scope to see a better answer - more wins for more people.
  4. Understand that there are seasons of life for everything. There is the right time for the right thing. 
Some Examples:

1. Some FB friend posted "Garden of Life Quotes- Life Choices"
    1. Choose to LOVE rather than HATE.
    2. Choose to LAUGH rather than CRY.
    3. Choose to CREATE rather than DESTROY.
    4. Choose to PERSEVERE rather than QUIT.
    5. Choose to PRAISE rather than GOSSIP.
    6. Choose to HEAL rather than STEAL.
    7. Choose to GIVE rather than STEAL.
    8. Choose to ACT rather than PROCASTINATE.
    9. Choose to GROW rather than ROT.
    10. Choose to PRAY rather than CURSE.
    11. Choose to LIVE rather than DIE.
On first reading,  we are impressed and inspired. Many people click 'liked'. But it is actually not very correct. Love or hate should be dependent on the context or situation. We are to love the person and hate the evil deeds. Hating the slavery get people to start the freedom movement and pass the laws.

There is time for laughter and time for mourning. See for example The Best Time of Your Life - Now, Any time, Every time and All the time.

2. Inspirational Quotes for Start-up in E27.

Let just choose the 1st quote, the one from Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba. "When you are small, you have to be very focused and rely on your brain, not your strength".

First, what is the meaning of his quote? What do you think?

I think he is saying that when you are small, you have no strength in resources such as money, people and assets. Hence, you have count on your brain. You have to be smart and align and focus your limited little resources on the key things. You have to do more with less. You cannot try to do too many things because of your lack of resources(strength).

But it is very easy for people to misunderstand. Under the picture, you can find a comment that says "But you can indeed rely on your strengths .. I trust .." which shows that there is a misunderstanding about the word strength and he may not have caught the essence of Jack Ma's message.


It is better to hear a presentation from Jack Ma and covered in Learning Entrepreneurship from Jack Ma. 

It will be even better to integrate the learning from many famous names like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and even the Bible in Success Principles - Version 5.
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