“In quoting others we cite ourselves.” – Julio Cortazar

I spend thousands of hours with hundreds of business leaders across the country facilitating their company planning-sessions. If you took a snapshot of our meetings, you’d see a handful of really cool people hard at work in a conference room with neon sticky notes covering the walls. You’d also see a mini-Yoda perched in the middle of all the action.

You might be asking: Why the sticky notes and Yoda?

The sticky notes have quotes scribbled on them—little sentences that condense huge epiphanies into tiny phrases. Whenever someone in the group says something profound or wacky, or when a well-know quote is pertinent to discussion, we write it down and stick it to the wall.

We do this for a couple of reasons:

  1. If you say something profound, you should remember it. When you write that something down you’re four times as likely to remember it.
  2. By the end of the facilitation we’re enveloped in motivational wallpaper. It’s a wonderful thing.

As for our friend Yoda, well he’s known for his Yodaisms—short and superior pieces of wisdom like, “Do or do not. There is no try.” We keep him around for this sort of insightful commentary.

My enthusiasm for quotes doesn’t stop at quarterly planning sessions. I post quotes of the day on Petra’s Facebook and Twitter profiles; I pass out 2-inch square papers with quotes typed on them wherever I go, i.e. conferences, planning sessions or Starbucks; and I tile quotes on Petra’s website homepage.

I love quotes because they give me an opportunity to learn from someone else’s experiences, and because repeating a short mantra could be just the medicine I need to grow my business, break a habit or change my life.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.” Buddha – So many people, me included, fall victim to our thoughts. Many conclude thoughts can’t be controlled. You feel how you feel and that can’t be changed. Well, that’s not true. We have the power to control out thoughts by changing our environment.  Surround yourself with positive and ambitious people and you will be positive and ambitious. Write good thoughts on neon sticky paper and post it to your walls and you will have good thoughts.
  • “ I don’t need easy, I just need possible.” Bethany Hamilton, “Soul Surfer” – This statement reflects a can-do attitude. It’s about not being afraid, and even expecting to work hard to get where you want to be. After all, when something comes to you easily, you don’t value it as much.
  • “Successful people do “the things” when they don’t feel like it.” This is one of my personal quotes – I have the opportunity to witness the habits of successful people day in and day out as I consult with them in their businesses. If there’s one habit that’s consistent, it’s that they show up and get important work done when they may not feel up to it. Sometimes all you need to do is get started and that’s enough to separate you from the crowd.
  • “You can make an excuse or make it happen.” Another quote of mine (that needs no further explanation).
  • “Couples who are happy in their relationship have a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative during conflict conversations.” John Gottman – This positivity plea is in the context of marriage but the ratio applies to business and life in general. Try to remember to be five times as positive as you are negative. If you’ve constructively criticized a team member once, boast on his or her successes five times.

The other tidbit of wisdom I glean from this is that a bit of skepticism or constructive criticism is healthy. You can’t ignore all negative interactions, but positivity should overwhelmingly outweigh negativity.

What’s your favorite quote? Post it where you can see it (How about on Petra’s Facebook page?) and remember to live by it.



Originally published in The Tennessean.

Photo credit: <a href=””>The Wandering Angel</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>