Prior Quotes of the Week
July 5, 1998
(books may be ordered through our online
Quote of the Week
The Blank Page
"We tend to think that paintings and
drawings always start in the mind and the idea is then channeled
down through the arm and into the hand and fingers, which execute
the mental image. This way of working in any medium is likely to
generate stiff constructions.
"Why not consider that images grow through
the interaction among hands, body, eyes, materials, the painting
or drawing surface, and the mind? Images emanate from gestures,
spontaneous marks on the surface, and other leads sent out in
advance of the composition that call it forth. Truly original
expressions can never be planned in advance. Surprise rather than
predictable results rule the process in which creations reveal
themselves. As creators we try to stay open and receptive to what
is moving through and around us.
"A performance artist said to me, 'I plan,
but what comes through is much bigger than anything I can plan or
even imagine. . . .'
"The empty space is the great horror and
stimulant of creation. But there is also something predictable in
the way the fear and apathy encountered at the beginning are
accountable for feelings of elation at the end. These intensities
of the creative process can stimulate desires for consistency and
control, but history affirms that few transformative experiences
are generated by regularity. . . .
"If I tell a person what to paint or
write, I obstruct the forces moving through that person's life at
the particular moment. When we immediately tell people what to do
in a studio, we alleviate the anxiety caused by the emptiness,
but we also interrupt the gestation of the creative process,
which may take time and maybe a certain amount of tension.
"Starting to work is always the primary
mode of discovery, whether in painting, writing, or any other art
form. I don't sit back and wait until an idea appears. The ideas
emerge through the movement of painting or writing. . . .
"Practice and preparation are essential
even if the performance is totally improvised. Preparing for
artistic expression can be compared to athletes training before
an event. I may have a game plan, but once the competition
starts, I respond to whatever presents itself. . . .
"When I am teaching performance art, I
encourage people to begin with a general sense of where they want
to go, but to focus primarily on being present in the particular
situation. If the participants can do this, they will find that
'the process' will carry them in significant ways that cannot be
known in advance. I have learned that if I rigidly stick to my
game plan or prepared statements, I can completely miss the
opportunity to engage the energy that is present and moving
through me and a given space. I always try to leave room for
Trust the Process: An Artist's Guide to Letting Go
pp. 60-63, Shambhala, 1998
Quote of the Week
The Design of Knowledge Work
"Those three elements, analysis, synthesis
into a process of production, and feedback control, are
particularly important in knowledge work. For knowledge work by
definition does not result in a product. It results in a
contribution of knowledge to somebody else. The output of the
knowledge worker always becomes somebody else's input. It is,
therefore, not self-evident in knowledge work, as it is in making
a pair of shoes, whether the work has results or not. This can be
seen only by projecting backward from the needed end results. At
the same time, knowledge work, being intangible, is not
controlled by its own progress. We do not know the sequence of
knowledge work in the way we know--at least since Taylor and
Gantt--the sequence of manual operations. Knowledge work,
therefore, needs far better design, precisely because it cannot
be designed for the worker. It can be designed only by
Peter F. Drucker
Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices
p. 183, Harper and Row, 1985
Quote of the Week
Creating the Problem, Living on Intent, Finding the Solution
"Curiosity is not enough. The word is too
mild by far, a word for infants. Passion is indispensable for
creation, no less in the sciences than in the arts. Medawar once
described it in a talk addressed to young scientists. 'You must
feel in yourself an exploratory impulsion--an acute
discomfort at incomprehension.' This is the rage to know.
The other side of the fun of science, as of art, is pain. A
problem worth solving will surely require weeks and months of
lack of progress, whipsawn between hope and the blackest sense of
despair. The marathon runner or the young swimmer who would be a
champion knows at least that the pain may be a symptom of
progress. But here the artist and the scientist part company with
the athlete--to join the mystic for a while. The pain of
creation, though not of the body, is in one way worse. It must
not only be endured but reflected back on itself to increase the
agility, variety, inventiveness of the play of the mind. Some
problems in science have demanded such devotion, such willingness
to bear repeated rebuffs, not just for years but for decades.
There are times in the practice of arts, we're told, of abysmal
self-doubt. There are like passages in the doing of science.
Albert Einstein took eleven years of unremitting concentration to
produce the general theory of relativity; long afterward, he
wrote, 'In the light of knowledge attained, the happy achievement
seems almost a matter of course, and any intelligent student can
grasp it without too much trouble. But the years of anxious
searching in the dark, with their intense longing, their final
emergence into the light--only those who have experienced it can
understand it.' . . . In the black cave of unknowing, when one is
groping for the contours of the rock and the slope of the floor,
tossing a pebble and listening for its fall, brushing away false
clues as insistent as cobwebs, a touch of fresh air on the cheek
can make hope leap up, an unexpected scurrying whisper can induce
the mood of the brink of terror. 'Afterwards it can be
told--trivialized--like a roman policier, a detective
story,' Francois Jacob once said. 'While you're there, it is the
sound and the fury.' But it was the poet and adept of mysticism
St. John of the Cross who gave to this passionate wrestling with
bafflement the name of which, ever since, it has been known: the
dark night of the soul."
Horace Freeland Judson
The Search for Solutions
pp. 5-6, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1980
Quote of the Week
"Yes, but where does that leave me?"
Trytoreconnectyou, towhatyouwant," said the
Sheep Man. "Butwecan'tdoitalone.
"So what do I have to do?"
"Dance," said the Sheep Man.
Yougottadance. Don'teventhinkwhy. Starttothink,
wegetstuck. Wegetstuck, you'restuck.
"I don't get it."
"Dance," he said.
Butwetoldyouallwecould. Dance. Don'tthink.
The temperature was falling. I suddenly seemed
to remember this chill. A
bone-piercing, damp chill. Long ago and far
away. But where? My mind was
paralyzed. Fixed and rigid.
Fixed and rigid.
"Youbettergo," urged the Sheep Man.
"Stayhere, you'llfreeze. Butifyouneedus,
Dance, Dance, Dance
pp. 85-87, Vintage International, 1994
Quote of the Week
The Programmed Context and Transition Management
quotation comes from the last pages of an excellent book of
fiction (Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)
which includes many insights into the MG Taylor Data,
Information, Knowledge model (soon to appear on this website).
Basically, Data combined with a Context (pattern from memory)
yields Information. Information acted upon in an experience
yields Knowledge. The Context is powerful enough in many
instances to break the loop between the internal and external
worlds so that the system becomes completely self-referential.
From this vantage point, there is never a solution to problems
outside of the system's Context, and the system ossifies in this
If you think you
might like the book, don't read this week's quote, as it will
spoil the whole thing. On the other hand, it's a very intriguing
quote, so maybe you should read it. Dilemmas ;-)
"'I have been thinking it over . . . ,' I
dredge up the words. 'I'm not going.'
The shadow looks at me blankly.
'Forgive me,' I tell my shadow. 'I know full well
what staying here means. I understand it makes perfect sense to
return to our former world, the two of us together, like you say.
But I can't bring myself to leave.' . . .
My shadow sighs, then looks again heavenward.
'You found her mind, did you? And now you want to
live in the Woods with her. You want to drive me away, is that
'No, that is not it at all, not all of it, I say.
'I have discovered the reason the Town exists.'
'I don't want to know,' he says, 'because I
already know. You yourself created this Town. You made everything
here. The Wall, the River, the Woods, the Library, the Gate,
everything. Even this Pool. I've known all along.
'Then why did you not tell me sooner?'
'Because you'd only have left me here like this.
Because your rightful world is there outside.' My shadow sits
down in the snow and shakes his head from side to side. 'But you
won't listen, will you?'
'I have responsibilities,' I say. 'I cannot
forsake the people and places and things I have created. I know I
do you a terrible wrong. And yes, perhaps I wrong myself, too.
But I must see out the consequences of my own doings. This is my
world. The Wall is here to hold me in, the River flows
through me, the smoke is me burning. I must
My shadow rises and stares at the calm surface of
the Pool. He stands motionless amid the falling snow. Neither of
us says a word. White puffs of breath issue from our mouths.
'I cannot stop you,' admits my shadow. 'Maybe you
can't die here, but you will not be living. You will merely
exist. . . . You'll be trapped for all eternity.'
'I am not so sure,' I say. 'Nor can you be. A
little by little I will recall things. People and places from our
former world, different qualities of light, different songs. And
as I remember, I may find the key to my own creation and to its
'No, I doubt it. Not as long as you are sealed
inside yourself. Search as you might, you will never know the
clarity of distance without me. Still you can't say I didn't
try,' my shadow says, then pauses. 'I loved you.'
'I will not forget you,' I reply."
Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World
pp. 398-399, Vintage International, 1993
Quote of the Week
Innovation and Survival in the Knowledge Era
"Now, more than ever before, the only way to
ensure a continuing profit in any business endeavor is to learn
from your competitors' successes quickly and to have your own
constant, steady stream of new ideas, improvements, and
innovations. In other words, what is important is not a single
new idea, but the ability to continue to generate new ideas.
"Again and again, economists, business
consultants, and other students of free market systems have
concluded that the ability to innovate is more important
to a firm's long-term survival and prosperity than any particular
innovation. . .
This is the fundamental argument for the
importance of software over hardware at a company's operating
level. Your company's 'software' consists of your innovative
people, your corporate culture, your collective capacity for
evaluation, accepting, and implementing new thought."
Don Peppers and
Martha Rogers, Ph.D.
The One to One Future: Building Relationships One Customer at
pp. 336-337, Currency Doubleday, 1993
of the Week (1998.05.17)
Navajo Nightway Chant (excerpts)
"House made of dawn.
House made of evening light.
House made of the dark cloud.
House made of male rain.
House made of dark mist.
House made of female rain.
House made of pollen.
House made of grasshoppers.
Dark cloud is at the door.
The trail out of it is dark cloud.
The zigzag lightning stands high upon it.
An offering I make.
Restore my feet for me.
Restore my legs for me.
Restore my body for me.
Restore my mind for me.
Restore my voice for me.
This very day take out your spell for me.
Happily I recover.
Happily my interior becomes cool.
Happily I go forth.
My interior feeling cool, may I walk.
No longer sore, may I walk.
Impervious to pain, may I walk.
With lively feelings may I walk.
As it used to be long ago, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Happily, with abundant dark clouds, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant showers, may I walk.
Happily, with abundant plants, may I walk.
Happily on a trail of pollen, may I walk.
Happily may I walk.
Being as it used to be long ago, may I walk.
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
In beauty it is finished.
In beauty it is finished."
This quote came from a website,
Quote of the Week
Analysis, Direction, Positioning in Creative Tension
[Note: employ some
creativity and metaphor in interpreting the meaning of "the
opponent" in the following quote. It doesn't necessarily
refer to other individuals or organizations or even an enemy. The
quote may be about how to deal with your creative tension, for
"Those who have Direction can arouse like
Uprooting boulders along the way.
Those who have Timing can charge like a bird of prey,
Piercing its target along the way.
Hence, those who are skilled in conflict
Are formidable in their Directing and quick in their Timing.
Directing is like a tautly drawn crossbow;
Timing is like the release of the arrow.
The numbers and confusions and comings and goings
Make the contest seem disordered--
And yet there is not disorder.
The blending and merging and chaos and tumult
Make the Position seem encircled--
And yet there is no losing.
Apparent disorder is a product of control.
Apparent fear is a product of courage.
Apparent vulnerability is a product of possession.
Control or disorder is a matter of Analysis.
Courage or fear is a matter of Direction.
Possession or vulnerability is a matter of Positioning.
Skillfulness in moving an opponent about comes
Positioning the opponent is compelled to follow
And gifts the opponent is compelled to take.
Through the promise of gain,
An opponent is moved about
While the Team lies in wait."
translated by R.L. Wing
The Art of Strategy: A New Translation of Sun Tzu's Classic
Art of War
p. 73, Doubleday, 1988
Quote of the Week
The Courage of Innovative Thought
"'The ethics of creativity'--integrity,
pain, courage, self-knowledge, and freedom--is a problematic
subject, because creative achievement imposes specific
distinctions between the thinking individual and society at
large. These are not just distinctions of comparative insight but
rather imply the much greater gaps between competence and
excellence, between security and exploration, between caution and
risk. No culture, however 'liberal,' can annul these
distinctions, which are part of the fabric of social necessity.
No culture can make innovation painless or free of danger.
"What, then, is the courage of independent
thought? . . . it is eclectic, facing miscellaneous adversaries,
despising illusory dangers and enduring real ones, accepting
limited victories and inevitable losses. Can any single quality
of character perform all these functions? To Plato and Aristotle,
courage was a kind of knowledge, an awareness of what was or was
not really worth fearing, predicated on a broader sense of a good
that validated the risk. For our own more specific uses, the
following may serve: the courage of innovative thought is not a
distinct virtue that can be practiced in and of itself. It is
rather a by-product, a strength that is the simple consequence of
loving our work and knowing why we love it.
The Grace of Great Things: Creativity and Innovation
p. 109, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1990
Quote of the Week
Discovering Our Potential
"The development of abilities is at least in
part a dialogue between individuals and their environment. If
they have the ability and the environment demands it, it will
surely develop. The young person with excellent athletic skills
is likely to discover that ability fairly early. . . But most
abilities are not so readily evoked by the common circumstances
of life. . . Most of us have potentialities that have never been
developed simply because the circumstances of our lives never
called them forth.
"Exploration of the full range of our own
potentialities is not something that we can safely leave to the
chances of life. It is something to be pursued systematically, or
at least avidly, to the end of our days. We should look forward
to an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our
potentialities and the claims of life--not only the claims we
encounter but the claims we invent. And by potentialities I mean
not just skills, but the full range of our capacities for
sensing, wondering, learning, understanding, loving and aspiring.
"The ultimate goal of the educational system
is to shift to the individual the burden of pursuing his own
John W. Gardner
Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society
pp. 11, 12, W.W. Norton & Company, 1995
Quote of the Week
"Structures of which we are unaware hold us
prisoner. Once we can see them and name them, they no longer have
the same hold on us. This is as much true for individuals as it
is for organizations. . .
"Discovering structures at play is the stock
and trade of people with high levels of mastery. Sometimes these
structures can be readily changed. Sometimes, as with structural
conflict, they change only gradually. Then the need is to work
more creatively within them while acknowledging their origin,
rather than fighting the structures. Either way, once an
operating structure is recognized, the structure itself becomes
part of 'current reality.' The more my commitment to the truth,
the more creative tension comes into play because current reality
is seen more for what it really is. In the context of creative
tension, commitment to the truth becomes a generative force, just
as vision becomes a generative force.
"One of the classic illustrations of this
process is Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Through
the visitations of the three ghosts on Christmas Eve, Scrooge
sees more and more of the reality from which he has turned away.
He sees the reality of his past, how the choices he made steadily
whittled away his compassion and increased his self-centeredness.
He sees the reality of his present, especially those aspects of
reality that he has avoided. . . And he sees the reality of his
likely future. . . But then he wakes up. He realizes that he is
not the captive of these realities. He realizes that he has a
choice. He chooses to change.
"Significantly, Scrooge can't make the
choice to change before he becomes more aware of his current
reality. In effect, Dickens says that life always avails the
option of seeing the truth, no matter how blind and prejudiced we
may be. And if we have the courage to respond to that option, we
have the power to change ourselves profoundly. Or, to put it in
more classic religious terms, only through the truth do we come
The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning
pp. 160-161, Currency, 1990
Quote of the Week
"The Adolescent organization is somewhat
schizophrenic. It wants stability, yet it also wants an escape
from the mess of development, the superficiality of projects, and
the despair of getting involved in useless, expensive
investments. It therefore seeks to establish policies, routines,
standards and systems. At the same time, however, it wants to
keep the freedom of irresponsibility, of trying out untested
methods. It wants to set as many records as possible.
"The therapist is caught in a double bind in
such an organization. If he facilitates stabilization and
systemization, some members resent him. If he does not systemize,
other members will resent him. Hardly anything the outsider does
will be accepted gracefully by the whole organization.
The Adolescent organization is a pain in the neck. The therapist
must have enormous patience to deal with it. He must maintain a
very delicate balance between flexibility and systemization. He
must change direction and assignments rapidly and with good
timing. . .
"When the Adolescent organization clearly
identifies and achieves commitment, it becomes a Prime
organization. If an Adolescent organization is incapable of such
focus, it can become either arsonous or rigid. It becomes
arsonous if it loses all interest in systemization. It gets
involved in too many projects and fizzles out. If it loses
[entrepreneuring], it becomes rigid and disappears since it
cannot adapt or produce results.
"The assignments for the Adolescent
organization are usually given to a multidisciplinary group (from
production, marketing and sales), so that there is an adequate
balance between [authority] and [entrepreneuring]."
Corporate Lifecycles: How and Why Corporations Grow and Die
and What To Do About It
pp. 336-337, Prentice Hall, 1988
Quote of the Week
"Mallarme writes of 'vide papier que la
blancheur defend' (blank paper whose whiteness is forbidding);
but generally writers love a blank page, a new pad, a ream of
bond. For the freshness and openness of these things is an
invitation to freedom and to the magic which makes something of
nothing. By extension, something similar can be said about the
beginnings of large projects in general. During these times our
minds are less constrained and more receptive to discovery; our
wills are faced less with binary alternatives than with manifold
opportunities. As we progress, we will know our subject better,
but we will also have set canons which we are reluctant to
transgress. Thus at the beginnings of things it is well to treat
ourselves to a luxury of blankness, to go into each day's work
without the deadening burdens of continuity, consistency and
fixed purpose. Don't look back; you will have time enough for
that during later stages. At this point the essential things are
amplitude, variety, boldness, imagination. Contradictions are not
only allowable but essential; for without them you will almost
always fail to transcend your initial understanding."
Time and the Art of Living
p. 122, Houghton Mifflin Company
Other Prior Quotes:
January 1, 1998 through April
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