This book is aimed at inspiring you to think about yourself, your desires and your goals, and at giving you the courage and strength to cope even with difficult situations. It may serve you as a practical guide to everyday life – both inside and outside the workplace. These quotations may also encourage you to find out more about the men who coined them – and to read their writings.
The personalities whose insights are included in this book span the gamut from classical philosophers to contemporary authors, from successful entrepreneurs to theologians, scientists and artists. Here you will find the physicist Albert Einstein rubbing shoulders with the Renaissance painter and sculptor Michelangelo, Apple-founder Steve Jobs and Henry Ford, Cicero, Confucius, Schopenhauer and Goethe.
Their words of advice are both timeless and highly topical, whether they are philosophers or poets, entrepreneurs or 20th-century bestselling authors such as Napoleon Hill, Joseph Murphy or Dale Carnegie. My selection is based on the impact and relevance of each quotation, rather than on the prominence of their authors or the eloquence of their wording.
In my comments that accompany these quotes, I point out their significance for the challenges and opportunities facing you in everyday life, particularly in your professional career, but also in other areas. Of course, both my selection and my comments are based on subjective preference – that’s as it should be. They reflect the personal experience I have gained over a lifetime in my various roles as historian, journalist, entrepreneur and investor – certainly an unconventional trajectory, which may go some way towards accounting for the at times unexpected juxtaposition of different perspectives and personalities.
My hope is that you will make this little book your constant companion wherever you go. Like an encyclopedia, it is intended for browsing, rather than reading from beginning to end. All of these quotes are worth rereading and you will benefit most by dipping into it every once in a while. My hope is that some of the quotations and comments will help you to see things in a new light. Others will not. You should regard them much like the items in a supermarket – you would never put all of them in your shopping cart at once, because you only really need some of them, others you can do without. But you may well find yourself reaching for the book in a few weeks or months and suddenly discovering fresh meaning in words that at first reading had no resonance for you – maybe because of new experiences you have had in the meantime.
Please do not worry if you find yourself unable to put all the advice and ideals expressed in these quotations into practice in your own life. There is not a single person on this planet – not even those who coined these words of wisdom – who has ever been able to act and live at all times by the maxims they recognized as right. Even a man such as Dale Carnegie, whose books provide so much good advice for coping with our everyday challenges, has not always been able to follow his own advice. And the fact that he openly admitted as much makes him even more likeable.
Many of these maxims and home truths can simply be read as correctives to all the bad habits that cause us to do certain things and fail to do others. May the wisdom contained in them inspire you to think about your own life, and above all – to take action! Even the most brilliant insight is worth very little unless you put it into practice: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do,” as another German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, advised.