Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom

I find there to be profound wisdom in proverbs, sayings and quotes and I marvel at the way they are so succinct in communicating messages to the reader.

Mostly anonymous, they come to us from past generations and from across cultures. They speak of the experiences of lives lived and lessons learned. Quotes, like proverbs, make us think more deeply about something.

Each Friday, I post a Proverb or Saying and a Quote that I find thought-provoking.

I hope you will too.

Continuing with the present theme of Swedish proverbs, I found this thought provoking proverb. Why would a good man cope better?  Would not a devious, conniving man, or woman, succeed too?  But, of course, there is a price to pay for ill – gotten gains, isn’t there?  Is this what the proverb refers to, do you think?

“Bra karl reder sig själv ” – 

(A) good man will cope on his own ~ Swedish Proverb

sweden torg

Coping and being self-reliant is a goal many of us have, but failing to cope or, at least, being unhappy might also provide us with opportunities to learn, according to Bill Gates.

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.”Bill Gates

CC0 Creative Commons

Do you agree with the Microsoft wiz?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.


Proverbial Friday – Surely something to ponder about.


32 thoughts on “Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom”

    1. A single fish would find survival difficult. It is okay to be a loner or recluse, however there are many times when we need the input or company of others. We, after all, are a gregarious social species. We benefit from collaboration with others. Insightful proverb, Gerard. Is the fish saying a Dutch or Finnish proverb?

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Toortsie! The door to greater success! Yes, indeed, if only they can see and value it!! There is hardly any “get rich quick” schemes – more often it is intuition, initiative and hard work.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Coping on your own takes a lot of courage. In this world many people favour teamwork over being on their own. That is, they rather join a team or say go on a holiday with at least one other person. However, I don’t think we can get anywhere on our own without some help along the way. In the context of both work and leisure, often we will stop for some guidance along the way or ask some question we might have. However one can also argue that is also about being on your own because one is going on a solo journey.
    Unhappy customers means they can’t get what they want, and if your goal is to make customers happy then you also don’t get what you want. In other words, unhappy customers can drive you to improve your processes and routines. I feel the Bill Gates quotes can also apply to the context of anyone who is unhappy in general. If you know someone who is unhappy and they mean a lot to you, it can be a lot of work to understand what’s going on and maybe make them feel better. It’s one thing to treat someone as a customer and another to treat them as something more, like a friend or partner and cultivating a deeper relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We are all on a solo journey, Mabel, despite what most of us thinks. We are all independent beings, that is the reality, even though we have a tribe or herd where we find comfort and or security and stimulation. Perhaps some have to strive a little harder to find their tribe! The tribe, or herd, is our means of support and just how much we need that support and the type of support it is that we need varies greatly between individuals! Our success also depends I think on how much we can access the herd or tribe for what we need. Some of us are better at securing our needs than others. Personalities vary as to how well one even integrates with each team or “herd.” Team work is, I think, more likely to be a struggle for a person who might be described as a loner, or someone who sits outside the square of the general public. Such as a prodigy, who has been overly self-reliant because he or she might be an expert in their field, and therefore, might find it hard to integrate with the herd, and have to search wider to find a herd where they feel welcome or satisfied. Then there are the anti-conformists who rebel and relish being different. Furthermore, there are those who relish being different because they have been rejected, socially, intellectually or emotionally by their herd and save face by becoming non-conformist, for its own sake.
      Secondly, what a lovely take on Bill Gates’ quote: – to have that empathy towards a fellow human, or friend, that is going through a rough patch in their lives. We can learn from both the unhappy customers, in the business sense, as Bill Gates probably inferred, but also so much more from the quote if we apply it to friendships and relationships! Well done for pointing out that angle, Mabel! I have recently been supporting a friend who has been suffering from both aspects of problematic teamwork at his workplace, and a general level of unhappiness in his own self. He has a history of changing jobs frequently. I can apply the points you have made to this situation. He has recently decided to move on to another position, as the personal cost of toxic relationships with workmates was too high for him to bare. I think he is wise in seeking a position where he is more autonomous and independent, (the sole staff worker, apart from the boss), as he was unable to find a way through the difficulties of working in a team environment. Perhaps people such as he, and the others on that team, needed extra support and understanding but also extra skills in understanding fellow workmates. This team has a very high turnover of staff so the fault is not the individual workers’s alone. The education system we currently have seems to place more of an emphasis on group dynamics and collaborative team work now, and I hope that this will benefit workplaces in years to come. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was no harassment, or no need for mediation?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are many reasons why teamwork can be challenging for someone. It could be that person finding it hard to get along with the the team as you said. Could be that they aren’t a good cultural fit. Could be that they have extremely differing views and values from the others. Could be that other team members not being openly accepting – which is similar to your friend’s situation.

        Some people aren’t cut out to work in a team well and working independently or with one or two others might be best. Likewise how not everyone is cut out to work on their own. Personally I have no issue working on my own. I love being left to my own devices, love being the only one working on one project with no others. But I also like working with others if we share the same mindset and values – that is very important to me, getting along with others in a team is so important to me because that way you can understand better their approaches – and of course, avoid harassment.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I too relish the autonomy of working alone, prioritizing in a way that works for me, although the buck and all the work stops with me. That means that the role involves pressures, although I have a supportive team around me, even though I am in an area all of my own within the larger team. I think your comment summarizes the most important benefit of teamwork. That is we can understand others, and more importantly, learn from them. Better understanding means a more harmonious workplace where each member is valued for their strengths and helped by the rest of the team for their weaknesses. It is like an ongoing in-service training. However, if you are the senior member of a team and dislike mentoring junior staff, I imagine it can be stultifying. I think many problems arise with division of labour within a team, some members work faster and others slower. Both might have value in different ways. The slower worker might be more methodical, and the faster worker has speed but might be less accurate. If the work is divided up along these lines, animosities grow where it can be seen that the slow worker might receive less work overall or at least finish less. The boss might allocate them less, and this seems unfair to the speedier worker. This seems to me where conflict arises within the team situation. Do you see any major instances of the downside of team work, Mabel?


          1. That is an interesting point with teamwork – some team members are faster or slower than others. Sometimes there might be clashes of perception that can never be resolved. One of the downsides to teamwork would be someone being forced to be a part of the team – that they area an unwilling participant but if they put the team ahead of themselves, then that might be fine.

            Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello – and glad i was able to drop one of your Proverbial posts this month! nice…
    and seriously – the Gates one is something I needed because it was 9am) trying to tell someone why they need feedback. And some folks just do NOT “get” that feedback and complaints are crucial to hear – don’t just brush it off and say “folks will always complain” or “we were not what they wanted” -= while this is true – there is often valuable info to be harvested and sometimes it can break you to now know – so total thumbs up for:

    Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates


    however, thumbs to the side (half up) to the swedish proverb:
    “(A) good man will cope on his own…”

    and not because of the gender – cos i could put person in there – I hate the word good used like this.
    and maybe if they inserted wise it might be more digestible –
    but maybe a “learnt” or “seasoned” man can cope on their own…


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for this comment! I am so happy that it helped you process that situation! This is the great beauty of quotes that make us think! A wonderful example of the opportunity to turn that complaint into something positive! Sometimes it is not nice to hear and many of us do not handle criticism well, but it is also hard to be objective and try to dig down underneath the complaint to what they individual is really trying to say. There are so many of us who do have something important to say, but are not very eloquent in articulating that. English is a great language because we have many more words to express subtle nuances to the listener, and yet it is still possible to misinterpret the words we are saying. Of course, some folks take out their frustrations and anger through words and they do mean to avenge or lay guilt or entice action through a complaint. It is interesting how much there is to this quote in life situations! ( not just business).
      As for the Swedish quote, it needs to be updated to people, absolutley, but as you pointed out, that word, ‘good’ is like “nice” – overused and sometimes almost meaningless, because it is open to so many different interpretations. Wise, learnt, seasoned, is more definitive and meaningful, and swedish does have words for that. Bra karl means a good man/fine fellow, so the quote leaves us thinking is it only a fine man who will cope independently? Was the quote framed in a time of greater socio-economic disparity? Or is a validation for social justice? I hope my swedish blogger friend @Leya
      will comment and give us her thoughts. Some historical proverbs become quite dated.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. thanks for the nice reply – and really appreciate you sharing about the words like that!
        how fun to learn…
        and was thinking again of this post last night when I asked for feedback after a yoga class last night –
        Two of the ladies were like “uh? no things were just fine”
        I realized that many folks are so out of practice with “basic” feedback – givign and getting!
        and in this case, it seemed like these ladies
        were only used to voicing complaints and one replied, “if there is anything we do not like we will tell you…”
        They thought I was looking for what was ‘wrong’
        when I just wanted “input” – ya know?
        I could just see they were not used to giving open feedback – bad or good.
        And partly this is because many situations do not offer a safe place of dialogue and people stay silent in fear – and it happens all over the place!

        Then an hour later – this guy came to me and quickly rambled with three things he liked – one thing he loved – and then said the lavender towels at the end were not his liking but could see that other folks liked them a lot.
        This man was well practiced in giving input…
        and I thought of your quotes this week.
        okay – hope you have a “good” or “nice” week –
        wait – make that a pleasant and peaceful one…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think it is great that you were able to utilize the quote in your yoga classes, but it is a shame a lot of folks get caught off guard and don’t know how to give feedback. I am suspecting people are more vocal about the negative things, seeking as they are to right the wrong, whereas if things are good, it is the status quo, and they don’t give it too much thought. I love the idea of the lavender towels! How dreamy and what a lovely calming note to finish on. Evaluation is a skill that is taught all through the education and organizational systems of business, workplace health and saftety, health care, so why are so many hesitant to employ it in their personal activities! That is interesting to ponder about!
          I wish you also a pleasant and peaceful week leading in to Easter! As they say in Swedish, God Påske.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. “Evaluation is a skill”

            and it is interesting to ponder – and maybe because feed back is often misunderstood….this is why i do not always speak up (and the timing has to be right)- but some folks get so defensive they might even get mad- I saw one lady accuse someone of attacking someone else – when the person was just calling her out on being rude….

            that Greenspan quote comes to mind:

            “I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant”

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting quotes this week. I like them. Bill Gates is right. Unhappy customers can teach you where there are problems in your product if you are open to learning from them. Being open is the trick. As for the other quote; I’m extremely self reliant. I live alone and have for many years. Last week after a 3 hr nights sleep, I was looking forward to a good solid night when I heard the first chirp. I didn’t know where it came from until I was in bed writing in my journal. The next chirps showed me it was the smoke detector on my ceiling letting me know the battery was dying. I turned on the fan and hoped that would take care of it. It did for a bit but by 10:30 the chirping was on again. I put on shoes, went out in the rain and brought in a ladder. Cleaned it up before bringing it in and then got a new battery and climbed up holding onto the door so I didn’t lose my balance. Not supposed to be on ladders but sometimes a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do. I fixed it myself and slept soundly that night. But when the dryer vent pulled out from the outside wall, I asked for help, A neighbor came over with his wife, (she’s a sewing friend) and fixed it for me. I gave her the money he refused and told her to buy some fabric with it. I was so grateful to have someone fix it for me. You have to know your limits but do the best you can when you can. We are all on this spinning rock together. Some jobs are waiting for my son when he comes, some require professionals and some I can tackle to the best of my ability. I have unstuck the garbage disposal twice already rather than replace the cheap thing. I’m cheaper. 🙂 Well, thrifty is the word for me, cheap applies to the disposal in this trailer. I kind of got lost in this one. Sorry to be so wordy.


    1. Oh Marlene, I am sorry for the delay in replying. Your comment didn’t show up in the recent notifications! But I have found it now and it is a great comment. I have this picture of you in your nightie climbing up a ladder to get the darn battery out. a little amusing if it wasn’t a bit risky. And can I tell you that I have done the same thing several times over when the battery died in my smoke detector. Everyone else sleeps right through it, except me. One time I ripped it off the ceiling and threw it outside as I was too tired to change it in the middle of the night. Why is it that bleep at 3am in the morning and not at 11 am??? A funny story about that my father-in-law thought he had a bird living in the ceiling space and was putting water and seed up there for a few weeks until someone told him it was the smoke detector!!!!! and then I am reminded of the time we heard a chirping in the wall, pulled off the outer board of the house to find a little chick in there, which upon our pulling back the wall board, the bird flew out!!
      We have gone off topic, but I can see that your point about being open, encapsulates the essence of the quote.
      And there is nothing wrong with being thrifty, more money to spend on life’s little luxuries!!
      I hope for no mishaps or broken appliances for you, this week!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The smoke detectors are hard wired to go off at the worst possible time. Loved the story about your FIL thinking it was a bird. That’s what I thought at first. Have a wonderfilled day. BTW, Comments are being lost in many blogs lately. Not just you. I don’t take it personally.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. For us, coping on one’s own could mean self reliance. Yes we are all predisposed to social structures – eg forming groups, surviving and advancing together (materially or knowledge). But how about self reliance? Would not that be the bedrock from which we can build social structures? Just 2 cents here. The most unhappy customers? For sure it would make you learn, provided you are open to it!


  5. I believe both quotes to be true. The Swedish proverb means that you should not rely too much on others to help you. And of course it has nothing to do with being a man. I am sure it all started amongst men, but today we all go by it. It is something you learn at an early age, and something you really need to work on. If you always have to ask for help, then you will never learn how to do things. Of course if you get severely ill or lose many of your abilities, then you must rely on others. I guess the advice is to learn enough to manage most of the everyday life without help. Using hammer and nail, changing light bulbs, tyres etc. You should not bother others if you can learn to fix things on your own!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! Thanks so much for popping over and commenting, Anne-Christine! I knew you would be able to clarify the original intention of the proverb for us. And isn’t it true, that we should aim to be self-reliant! ? In this discussion, we have mentioned teamwork and its importance, and self-reliance does overlap this. I think your sentence, “If you always have to ask for help, then you will never learn how to do things,” is similar to the child who is constantly and unnecessarily helped do a particular task, by its parents. One could almost call it learned helplessness in the child or a parent wanting to be needed. Why would a child bother to remember, learn or problem solve something when a parent or fellow man can tell you how or what to do or even do it for you? Because developing self reliance, itself, is a way to grow and develop our own abilities, for surely the day will come when we must manage on our own, and I for one, do not want to lament my inability to do something out of past complacency.


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