Favourite Passages

On Thinking (from “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins):

“Many people would sooner die than think. In fact they do.” – Bertrand Russel.

Organisation Capabilities (from “The Innovator’s Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen, p185 and 186)

“…Unfortunately, some managers don’t think as rigorously about whether their organisations have the capability to successfully execute jobs that may be given to them. Frequently, they assume that if the people working on a project individually have the requisite capabilities to get the job done well, then the organisation in which they work will also have the same capability to succeed. This often is not the case. One could take two sets of identically capable people and put them to work in two different set of organisations, and what they accomplish would likely be significantly different. This is because organisations themselves, independent of the people and other resources in them, have capabilities. To succeed consistently, good managers need to be skilled not just in choosing, training, and motivating the right people for the right job, but in choosing, building, and preparing the right organisation for the job as well.”…

Aphorisms (from “The Bed of Procrustes – Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb; various pages from there)

“Using, as an excuse, others’ failure of common sense is in itself a failure of common sense.”

“If you know, in the morning, what your day looks like with any precision, you are a little bit dead – the more precision, the more dead you are.”

“There is no intermediate state between ice and water but there is one between life and death: employment.”

“The only objective definition of aging is when a person starts to talk about aging.”

“Nothing is more permanent than “temporary” arrangements, deficits, truces, and relationships; and nothing is more temporary than “permanent” ones.”

“Friendship that ends was never one; there was at least one sucker in it.”

On Us, Humans (from “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb)

“…We love the tangible, the confirmation, the palpable, the real, the visible, the concrete, the known, the seen, the vivid, the visual, the social, the embedded, the emotionally laden, the salient, the stereotypical, the moving, the theatrical, the romanced, the cosmetic, the official, the scholarly sounding verbiage (b******t),  the pompous Gaussian economist, the mathematicised crap, the pomp, the Academie Francaise, Harvard Business School, the Nobel Prize, dark business suits with white shirts and Ferragamo ties, the moving discourse, and the lurid. Most of all we favor the narrated.

Alas, we are not manufactured, in our current edition of the human race, to understand abstract matters – we need context. Randomness and uncertainty are abstractions. We respect what has happened, ignoring what could have happened. In other words, we are naturally shallow and superficial – and we do not know it. This is not a psychological problem; it comes from the main property of information. The dark side of the moon is harder to see; beaming light on it costs energy. In the same way, beaming light on the unseen is costly in both computational and mental effort.”

On Togetherness (from “A Whack On The Side Of The Head” by Roger von Oech)

“We are all angels with just one wing – we can only fly while embracing one another”. (Luciano de Crescenzo)

On Power (from “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter M. Senge)

“In my view the greatest evil in the world today is ever-increasing power and wealth in ever-fewer hands” – Dee Hock, Visa founder. Remember, that the book was published 5 years ago – this statement has even greater impact today.

On Learning (from “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter M. Senge)

“…Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of generative process of life…” (p. 13/14)

On Anger (both found in “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ” by Daniel Goleman)

“Anger is never without Reason, but seldom with a good One.” – Benjamin Franklin (more of his quotes can be found for example here).

“Anybody can become angry, that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not within everybody’s power, that is not easy.” – Aristotle.

On Learning  (from “The Age of Unreason” by Charles Handy):

“- Learning is not just knowing the answers. That is Mastermind learning at its best, rote learning at its most basic. It does not help you to change or to grow, it does not move the wheel.

– Learning is not the same as study, nor the same as training. It is bigger than both. It is a cast of mind, a habit of life, a way of thinking about things, a way of growing.

– Learning not measured by examinations, which usually only test the Theory stage, but only by a growing experience, an experience understood and tested.

– Learning is not automatic, it requires energy, thought, courage and support. It is easy to give up on it, to relax and to rest on one’s experience, but that is to cease to grow.

– Learning is not only for intellectuals, who often shine at the thinking stage, but are incurious and unadventurous and therefore add little to their experience as they go through life.

– Learning is not finding out what other people already know, but is solving our own problems for our own purposes, by questioning, thinking and testing until the solution is a new part of our life.”

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