I compiled this collection originally because I needed it myself. That is to say, my mountain of notes, cuttings and print-outs was threatening a landslide in my store cupboard. I could lay a hand on an appropriate quotation just when I required it, provided I had two days’ notice of the occasion and nothing else to do but sift through the pile built up over several years.
The project to create a book of quotations from the best of this random collection put a semblance of order back into my life and on the way provided me with a great deal of pleasure as I rediscovered some of the wise and witty observations that stirred me enough to write them down at the time, only to bury them under my own disorder.
One of the most difficult tasks in selecting material for the book was deciding what to leave out. (My full collection extends to more than 3,000.) It is a highly subjective choice, one which is bound to reveal my own slants and prejudices. There is a bias towards business, management and training because that's how I used to make my living as a public presenter, but many readers have told me how they apply to their own lives, and I trust you will find that too. Many of the quotes stem from seemingly unrelated disciplines such as sport or mass entertainment, and many have been originally spoken or written in an age quite different from the one we know today, but still seem to apply.
Although I have tried to ensure as much variety as possible and offer a wide range of authors, some names do crop up again and again. The American essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, for example, is a notable quotable. Ironically, he is the man who once famously said ‘I hate quotations.
The astonishing Albert Einstein is another I keep returning to, especially for his comments on creativity and learning. Motor manufacturer Henry Ford was a master of the memorable aphorism, as was author Mark Twain.
|Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)|
I have sorted this selection of quotations alphabetically into themes and subjects that I trust readers will find appropriate. Some of the distinctions are quite subtle; there are obvious links between Achievement, Success and Winning, for example, and between Failure and Mistakes. I recommend ‘surfing’ around associated themes for the best results. One of the advantages of this new Kindle edition over the paperack is that the reader can quickly jump to the required section using the ‘Go To’ function and hyperlinks, but this is also the sort of book that, I hope you will agree, rewards browsing.
I hope I have succeeded in avoiding the predictable and over-familiar. I want readers to be surprised by unexpected gems, to experience the same pleasure I felt when I first came across them, to nod their heads at succinct sagacity, smile at truths eloquently revealed, have their minds expanded by insightful observation and their hearts lifted by inspirational thoughts.
I have tried to sow a little wit among the wisdom – a seedling from Groucho Marx here, from Woody Allen there. Every so often a cartoon character I have uninventively named Murphy pops up with one of those ironic maxims that send up business and office life and help us remember what my friend and sometime colleague Benjamin Zander calls Rule Number 6: ‘Don’t take yourself so goddam seriously’.
My thanks to cartoonist Frank Taylor for creating the Murphy character and to his colleagues at NB Group who helped to realise the original print edition. Working backwards along the production line, an encore of thanks to Julie McPherson and Sue Little for converting my bits of paper into workable manuscript, to Laura James and my son Joe for their hours of help researching sources, and especially to my wife Paula, not only for encouraging me to start the project but for shaping it in a publishable form.
The original print edition of this little book of quotations found its way into offices and homes all over the place (and is still available on Amazon). I trust my new and updated Kindle edition will find new readers in even more places and circumstances. By making it 'almost free' I'm trying to make it accessible to all.
Of course I will still continue to post extracts from the quotes daily on this blog, but I do hope you will enjoy having the whole selection collected in one place. Enjoy.