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Monday, May 08, 2006

Bromides for All Occasions

I heard this on a tv show the other day and it stayed with me: "You can have anything you want if you're willing to sacrifice everything you have." I'm not sure it's true, but like most philosophies, it sounds true enough. You can just picture the inspirational poster, can't you? Some athlete up at the crack of dawn or out at the last speck of daylight, practicing their craft.

But just because we're cynics doesn't mean we always have to be cynical. Which in turn got me to thinking about William Swanson's "Unwritten Rules of Management." By now we've all heard the story. Swanson is the CEO of Raytheon who supposedly created this folksy little booklet of unwritten rules. It got great press (see USA Today, for example) and Raytheon made it publicly available for a small fee. At least they did until, of course, it turned out that Swanson had actually cribbed these rules from others. Swanson made light of his lifting (see Raytheon statement), suggesting that there are no original rules anyway. Kaavya Viswanathan, however, hasn't been so lucky. Viswanathan is the Harvard sophomore and budding novelist that had a large book deal. I say had because that's now in question given her belated admission that she lifted portions of her novel, somewhere between 12 and 40 passages, I believe, from two novels by Megan McCafferty. There was an excellent column in last week's Wall Street Journal which questioned why we make so little of this credibility lapse by Swanson, a powerful CEO while simultaneously excoriating Viswanathan for essentially engaging in the same conduct in her first novel.

My guess is that we do this because whatever the source, we still like our daily bromide. Ben Franklin was probably the first to cleverly exploit this need to provide simple, generic justification for our underlying complex actions. And at this late date, who am I to argue with such success, which, as of now, I'm officially making one of my core philosophies. Along with these:

1. The more you give, the more you get.
2. Appreciate what you have instead of lamenting what you don't.
3. If you cannot give of yourself, then you cannot give to yourself.
4. When people are negative, mean, or uncaring to you, they are really negative, mean, or uncaring to themselves. Never forget that.
5. The little things do matter, especially to people you care about.
6. Life, sadly, is finite. Every second counts.
7. If you believe life is full of opportunities, you'll never face another problem again.
8. Since you have to think anyway, you might as well think big.
9. If you miss the opportunity to give your heart away because you can't be guaranteed it won't be misused, you'll never have a life worth living.
10. Have faith in your instincts, they're generally right.

My guess is that I probably can't take original credit for any of the foregoing, so I won't. Some geek with too much time on his hand and a much better grasp of search engine technology will likely see to that. But I think these fit nicely into formulating a core set of principles. And besides, they're just generic enough to fit damn near any occasion, the key, really, to any great bromide.


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  • At 10:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Nice. Found this through a Google of "Our Daily Bromide". Once again, originality eludes me.


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