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.

Sun Tzu was a military strategist, writer and philosopher in Ancient China. Some believe his writings are essential in understanding Chinese  political motivations and expansion, in modern times.  But does Sun Tzu’s proverbs have meaning for us in our  present day lives? What, if anything can we learn from this quote? What do you think about opportunities? Do you create your own or are you merely a passive agent?

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”

-Sun Tzu

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The quote this week comes from another historical figure; this time from the West. Battling the hierarchical medical and military fraternity of her time,  and for that she must have had intelligence, determination, and perseverance.

This is what Florence Nightingale had to say of her achievements: –

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”

– Florence Nightingale

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Is there a lesson in this, for us? What do you think?

Join in the discussion by leaving a comment below.

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Proverbial Friday – Something thought provoking to Ponder About

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19 thoughts on “Proverbial Friday – Global Wisdom

  1. wonderful!!! Sometimes you just need luck …. also with the opportunities. These ” lucky ” opportunities are usually initial firings. And then we create many opportunities ourselves in a targeted action and that’s a good thing! Oh and the second is difficult. Basically, excuses give and take a very important interpersonal and witness of heartfelt people. It is different with alibis. If I apologize for not completing a task, it is an alibi that can not lead to success.

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    1. We can sometimes create our own opportunities, Anie. I agree with that. Sometimes we don’t see opportunities for their full worth. and sometimes we spend too much time revelling in the success and forget to capitalize on the good luck/opportunity. Have you created your own opportunities? Secondly to your comment regarding the Nightingale quote. Apologies for not completing a task, are alibis! Interesting. I think this comes back to one’s own psyche and moralistic sense of duty. I do like to do something if I have indeed promised to do so. I hate letting people down or reneging on a promise. So I avoid doing that, even at my expense. However I am learning slowly that it is okay to withdraw from commitments, sometimes! I suspect Florence Nightingale was a formidable woman, who completed the job no matter what obstacle was in her way. Making excuses is something I am guilty of too, perhaps we all are. But in making the excuse, I am also spurred on to answer to make the situation right again! However, I think Florence also sounds a little scary when she says that she takes no excuse! She must have been a very hard task master! Even if she was a kind soul! I remember my days as a Nurse and there were plenty of older Matrons and Sisters who made life extremely difficult for young student Nurses, as they refused to take on ANY excuse! It was a very disciplined profession in those days and I feel like I was dunked in at the deep end. However, I survived! And learnt valuable lessons, but changed careers after several years!!

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    2. Did I create my own opportunities? I share the opinion of insearchofitall, a kind of pool of ideas in the universe, from which we can pick ideas, but which we also feed with ideas. I have had many opportunities in life and am very thankful and happy about it. I have always been able to realize all my dreams. Whether it was myself, who made the opportunity or who has just taken the opportunity, I can not judge. I think about whether this principle counts only for ideas or basically for our wishes and dreams that we want to realize. Is a pool from which we pick ideas or do we stay in this pool mentally and may even have contact with other people?
      I think it is not bad if my ideas are realized by other people … on the contrary, it confirms that my idea was good. I do not want to realize all my ideas, that would not be possible in time ….; ) … Missed or under-utilized opportunities, however, are very bad. Because already the idiom shows that I wanted it very much. But do not stop or cry of missed opportunities, because it blocks you from looking forward and discovering new possibilities.
      The Nightingale quote is difficult for me because of the vocabulary. The translation of excuses is ambiguous …. “to make an excuse” is the alibi, no ?, to excuse so. from sth. goes in another direction, so as “to excuse so.”
      I think everyone wants to keep their promises … and I think we’re not just talking about promises, because usually you do not say you promise anything but you act and behave in a way that others can assume, that you are going to do it …. that’s enough in my eyes to be aware of this “duty” or the desire to do it. Disappointing other people is terrible, but there will always be situations where there is no other way. On the one hand, we should learn to be able to say no at an early stage, so that no expectations arise on the other side. And we also should be aware that we will always disappoint people sometimes in life, even if it is sad. Honesty is more important here. These can be small things, like a date that I reject, because I have changed my mind, to very big things, like the marriage promise that you have to dissolve. I admire purposeful people who do not get bogged down. I am a master dissipate my energy in unimportant things and I have to work on that.

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  2. Great quotes. I’m late getting here. The cool is leaving and had to get as much done outside as possible before the heat arrives. Not an excuse, just a priority. 😉 I have mine.
    “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”-Sun Tzu In Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Big Magic” she talks about how ideas and opportunities are floating out in the field of possibilities and the first one to act on the idea gets the end result. If you put it off, the idea or opportunity goes on the the next person until someone grabs it and runs with it. That’s why an idea can be starting in two or three places on earth at the same time. Whoever invests the most into it’s fruition, gets the credit. The more often you are open to these ideas, the more they come to you. I do believe that and quantum physics proves it.

    “I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”– Florence Nightingale I think Wayne Dyer wrote a whole book about excuses. I’ve certainly made my share. My life is this way because… You see it every day. One person ends up on the street because he never got enough love and another becomes a collage graduate while being homeless. We make choices, big and little. We are always responsible for the life we create and I wish I had understood that so much sooner.

    Are those your dogs around you waiting for one bone? And that sweet face in the next photo looks like she is going to challenge the world. Makes me smile.

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    1. Ha! Marlene! I love that you change an excuse into a priority, and surely it is just that too! It depends on one’s perspective and how empathic the other person is. Can they empathize with you that you had other priorities and the task was incomplete, albeit temporarily? I certainly can, but as a younger person, I was definitely less understanding.
      How interesting that quantum physics proves that the more open you are to ideas, the more they come to you! Being open minded is something that I hear bandied about, almost daily in lots of arenas of life. I hear it from my adolescent kids, from my Yoga teacher, from my colleagues, and in the workplace. The more stress life hoists upon us, the more an open minded attitude seems essential in adequately dealing with life’s increasing stressors. And one can sometimes feel more content when the burden of worries, ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’, leave one’s vocabulary!!
      Having said that I think it is sad and a little unfair, when someone takes an idea yourself, or someone you know, had and run with it, knowing it wasn’t theirs to begin with. This happened to my son, when he had an idea for a educational computer tool. But in the end, it matters not, as he and our family did not have innate experience nor acumen to make it a successful business venture. Neither did the family member who “copied” the idea, so everything worked out okay. A company did however, have some success with the same idea, but perhaps they developed it at the same time, and not from his idea? (similar to your quantum physics suggestion) One many never know!

      I really like your example of the two divergent reactions to a loveless upbringing, and the statement of responsibility. We create our own journey! We have choice to rise above and persevere IN SPITE OF the scars or constantly focus on the scars and how deep they run. Do you think making excuses for a situation just makes one look weak, lacking in initiative and devoid of choice/independent thought and a practical outlook?

      The dogs were waiting for a treat – and they each got one! Equality rules and is demanded in the Schnauzer world!! I hope the girl in my post does challenge the world! She is just starting out in life’s journey! Imagine being 17 again? I can see your smile in your comment! – Thanks so much for a great response that made me think more about the quotes!

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    2. Stealing an idea has it’s own result. Some call it Karma but the laws set up that when you steal, you bring that into your frequency and will find it happening to you. I taught my children that when they were small. They take nothing that is not theirs, ever!

      “Do you think making excuses for a situation just makes one look weak, lacking in initiative and devoid of choice/independent thought and a practical outlook?”
      That is an interesting question. I think making excuses makes one weak in that it makes them a victim. Victim mentality is always weakening. I can say that my parents made it so impossible for me to go to college that I got married and had a family instead of pursuing my dream. That’s victim mentality even though it’s true. When you are no longer thinking like a victim, you realize you had a part to play in it as well. Another person would have found a way to do it no matter what. I learned many years ago that people are doing what they know how to do and blame serves very few. I have to take responsibility for every action to the circumstances of my life. I made the choices and I’ve also learned not to regret any of them. This didn’t happen so that can. It’s just my philosophy but it works for me. When I depart this world, I carry no bitterness with me, only a happy heart for all the good in my life. Some of start out with less than others but in the end, we make the choices along the way. That’s why it’s important to be mindful and in the moment.

      I wish your 17 year old great mindful choices. 🙂 She’s adorable and probably quite wise already.

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    3. “Blame serves very few.” It might make the person saying it, feel a little better, but it does not improve the overall situation or the person’s overall sense of duty or responsibility and thus, it turns them into a victim – agreed. Making an excuse for something, can make the person feel much less empowered about their own destiny; after all, what is the issue with owning up to a mistake/regret? There isn’t a single person on this planet who hasn’t made a mistake, so it is more constructive to admit the stuff-up, look for solutions or work arounds. This willl be more solution focused than spending one’s energy on excuses and abrogating our choices/responsibilities. I admire you for being at peace with your life, and being thankful for the good, leaving any things undesirable/unfinished to slip away into oblivion. Be mindful and in the moment, that is own human reality. Regrets and blame lives in the past, itslef, or in wishes for the future. All of us, are really only alive in this very moment! So that is where our focus may rightfully be!

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  3. Hi – love the photo with peace sign gal! The glasses give us the selfie and more of the alley – and then the depth beyond the gal.
    So rich.
    And the doggies? Whoa – are they all
    Yours?

    In my opinion the quote has me unsure as to what she meant – and I sorta feel a little hard ass view that I don’t always agree with – sometimes hate the no excuses mentality because it is rigid and sometimes missing the person in the process – and not always – but many times the folks that drive hard and succeed and say no excuses – well often they might have “done” much but at what cost? I guess I work with so many people who really did have legit excuses and so good for her that she did not

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    1. Thank you, Yvette for your observant comment. You really looked into the photo. Good for you. I also like it, for the same reasons you mentioned. I echo your apprehension at an absolute ‘no excuses’ philosophy, because I did feel that this attitude can be a bit extreme and definitely ‘hard line, ‘ at times, which can occasionally backfire when dealing with people. Especially sensitive ones. Treading a middle path is better as there are times when we need to be firm and other times when we need to yield, be a little softer, more understanding and accepting of others’ choices or others’ predicaments. Perhaps it worked for Florence in her time and, in this way, the quote becomes a little historic, reflecting as it might, a more severe, uncompromising, almost Victorian attitude? In a field hospital in Florence’s time, it can’t have been a very easy or happy environment. Do you think the brutal and confronting scenes may have perhaps hardened her attitude to life?
      And no, they aren’t all my dogs in the photo. Just one of them. I have to confess to being a Schnauzer fan!

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    2. Oh I thought they were all yours and imagined you with a brood!
      And loved the comment reply about Florence – still pondering it and thanks flair stretching me – so much depth here –

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    3. You are so sweet! If only I could have a brood of Schnauzers (NB. it is not me in the photo). I used to have two dogs, one of which was in the photo – she lived to almost 16, but now only one…..

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  4. Now I find Florence Nightingale a little formidable but I guess she must have been (in a good way). My family have a host of wonderful sayings, my favorite being “there are no pockets in a shroud” meaning that you can’t take your money with you so pass it on or enjoy it. My Nana’s favorite was “That child (me) could talk the hind legs of a donkey…”🐴

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  5. A bracing thought experiment to start my day: do I create my opportunities or am I a passive agent?

    The question I entertain firstly would be is one better than another? I see strengths and drawbacks to both, and I suppose with most things, it likely is a combination of both.

    The thought that tickles is that perhaps whichever it is, the more we flex our muscles to embrace each opportunity, the better we will become at identifying & maximising each one!

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    1. Thanks for such a sagacious comment, Ju-Lyn! “the more we flex our muscles to embrace each opportunity, the better we will become at identifying and maximizing each one.” Experience and life enable us to capitalize more efficiently and effectively on opportunities! When we are young, we can be eager and overly enthusiastic, sometimes to our detriment. We might even feel disappointment when others do not share our enthusiasm for new projects.
      However yes, indeed at other times we need to hold back and let others take the stage when we see an opportunity without relinquishing the need to lead by example and grab opportunity as a model for others. I don’t imagine you to be a passive agent!!!

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    2. I enjoy our conversations, Amanda, you provoke so much thought!

      You are right about me – being passive is not in my nature. But I do work to take a breath before re-acting at times (mixed success on this one!)

      I imagine though, that most of the WP community would tend to be folks-of-action. The fact that we put ourselves out here through our writing does say something about each of us!

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  6. Hello Chatty Kerry,
    Thanks for your comment and it us so nice of you to drop by my blog.
    Like all Nursing Sisters of her time, I think Flo. Nightingale must have been a scary task master to her junior nurses but no doubt she made sure they got the job done!!
    I love the sayings you mentioned in your comment. I recognise them in a slightly different form. It was “talk the legs of an Iron bed,” in my family, which is a rather strange metaphor, when one thinks about it.
    The money and the shroud metaphor is very true. One needs to make the most of our time here and it doesn’t do one any favours to hoard our wealth in old age!! I plan to give the little I have away before it is too late, I hope, just keeping the essentials. Although we want to help our kids, we must not let them gain everything the easy way. They have to learn to do for themselves, as well, dont you think?

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