The Power of Sayings

I snapped this picture by my house. It isn’t connected to sayings, I just liked the stark look.

Lately, a great deal of wisdom passed on from other people has been tumbling around my mind. In particular, aphorisms have been sticking with me. Their pith and directness gives them a power ordinary phrasing lacks. Hearing their poetry makes you believe the words have more wisdom than ordinary speech, and so they stay with you.

This last week I tried to write down every sharp saying I could recall, and then I asked friends for their favorites. Some of them are truly wise, some of them just seem that way. The interesting part, I suppose, is learning which is which.

  1. You can never understand someone else’s relationship.
  2. You don’t marry a person, you marry their family.
  3. You never know how important someone is until they’re gone.
  4. Friends are harder to make than to lose. 
  5. The worst thing to do to a pet is to have a kid.
  6. People who sleep with dogs get fleas.
  7. Be careful of what you say in an elevator or on the train. You never know who’s listening.
  8. Be nice to everyone. You don’t know who could become your boss.
  9. Don’t buy a boat. Make good friends with someone who does.
  10. Interesting people are interested.
  11. Discretion is the better part of valor.
  12. Never assume. It makes an ass out of u and me.
  13. There’s always someone smarter than you.
  14. There’s always someone worse off than you.
  15. People never change – but you can.
  16. You don’t have to get ready if you’re already ready.
  17. Opportunity is the flipside of anxiety.
  18. When someone says “can’t” they usually mean “won’t”.
  19. Never judge a book by its cover.
  20. It’s about the journey, not the destination.
  21. When a door closes, a window opens.
  22. Can’t win the war sitting in your tent.
  23. A fool and his money are soon parted.
  24. Don’t fight the river.
  25. You get what you allow.
  26. To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.
  27. The second row is the first bad seat.
  28. Your education don’t mean shit when you’ve gotta pull a porcupine out of your ass.
  29. You have two lives. The second one begins only when you realize the first one is going to end.
  30. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.
  31. Move it or lose it.
  32. Snooze, you lose.
  33. Early bird gets the worm.
  34. Write every email like it could be a NYT headline one day.
  35. Treat every phone call with a politician as if it’s being recorded by the FBI.
  36. Never write what you can say. Never say what you can infer.
  37. The most influential people in politics don’t work in politics.
  38. The second best answer after yes is no.
  39. Always ask, the worst thing they can say is no.
  40. The cheapest money you can get is through sales.
  41. Work begets praise and praise begets work.
  42. Your boss is your number one client.
  43. Stay focused on what you’re doing. Don’t worry about the person in the other lane.
  44. It’s better to be late than wrong.
  45. Past performance is not an indicator of future success.
  46. Focus on less and accomplish more.
  47. Inspect what you expect.
  48. Go slow to go fast.
  49. Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
  50. Innovate or cut your price.
  51. Pigs get fed, hogs get slaughtered.
  52. Show don’t tell.
  53. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
  54. If you’re not nervous to get up and preach, stay sitting down.