Even the undertaker will be sorry

Previously, this blog featured a few quotes from the American writer, philosopher, and humorist, Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens).  Today, we look at four more of his quotes to see how his wisdom might impact us.   Enjoy:

  1. I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.– Are you a worrier?  Do the things that could happen impact you more than the things that actually have happened?  Certainly, there are some in our company paid to identify, anticipate, and mitigate risks.  But, for most of us, we need simply to take a realistic view of the future and live accordingly.  If the stress of what could happen is wearing you down today, you might benefit from looking again at a previous blog titled, “Stress is self-inflicted.”
  2. Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. – I think it is interesting to see here how Twain defines courage… not as an absence of fear, but as resistance and a mastery of it.  We should not think we are unusual or inadequate when we fear that big presentation or fear taking on that major assignment.  Fear is a natural human response to a challenge.  But, courage is having the fortitude to charge ahead, even in the face of some fear.  Don’t let fear hold you back, but let it inspire you to courage as you’ve never had before.  Tackle that fear today that has been holding you back!
  3. The more you explain it, the more I don’t understand it.– Historically, there has been this belief that the more information you provide, the better.  Whether in conversation or in a PowerPoint presentation, unless you cover every possible scenario, you have fallen short of the target.  However, it appears to me that we’re seeing a shift in that philosophy.  I have recently seen clear movement toward the concept of “get to the bottom line quickly” that, to me, is refreshing.  I have heard several times, “I’m buying, so please stop selling.”  In other words, when you see that you have accomplished your mission, cut off the conversation, even if you have a dozen more slides to show, and move forward.  If you have a decision and a direction, no more conversation is needed.  As Twain indicates, the more you explain, the less clear it gets.  Cut it off while you are ahead.
  4. Let us endeavor so to live so that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry. – Twain here encourages us to consider our legacy as we live our day-to-day lives.  Are we living our lives in a way that makes a positive difference to those around us.  Despite the fact that the undertaker will make money from our funeral, will even he/she be sad?  If you are like me, you might wonder what factors, conversations, or people combined to create who you are today.  I remember working in the oilfields near my home as a summer job when I was young.  My father was a welder in the oilfield for nearly 40 years, so everyone knew him.  So, when I worked in the fields doing the least possible desirable jobs, I encountered many of the seasoned, crusty guys that worked in the fields.  To a man, these guys always made a comment to me about my dad.  I never heard a negative word about him, but, instead, their comments about him were always respectful and caring.  Hearing this over and over impacted me in several ways… first, I didn’t want to disappoint him and, second, I wanted to be like him.  Just like most young men, I had a great respect for my dad, but that respect and admiration was even enhanced by the comments made by his coworkers.  I’m sure each of us has had experiences that impacted how we live and what legacy we hope to leave behind.

What does Mark Twain say to you today?  What kind of legacy are you leaving?

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