Favorite Quotes

This page is a collection of our favorite quotes. Hope you enjoy them. Please suggest others.

The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind. Carolyn Myss

Mark Twain

  • It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.
  • A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
  • The art of prophecy is very difficult, especially about the future.

Will Rogers

  • There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.
  • It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.

My biggest problem isn’t i don’t know what I don’t know. It’s I don’t do what I do know. Keith Cunningham

HL Mencken

  • For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it. Ralph Waldo Emerson

I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones. John Cage.

Responsibility begins with the willingness to be cause in the matter of one’s life. Ultimately, it is a context from which one chooses to live. Responsibility is not burden, fault, praise, blame, credit, shame or guilt. In responsibility, there is no evaluation of good or bad, right or wrong. There is simply what’s so, and your stand. Being responsible starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from the view of life that you are the generator of what you do, what you have and what you are. That is not the truth. It is a place to stand. No one can make you responsible, nor can you impose responsibility on another. It is a grace you give yourself – an empowering context that leaves you with a say in the matter of life. Werner Erhard

Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one. Malcolm Forbes

Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Benjamin Franklin

I am enthusiastic over humanity’s extraordinary and sometimes very timely ingenuity. If you are in a shipwreck and all the boats are gone, a piano top buoyant enough to keep you afloat that comes along makes a fortuitous life preserver. But this is not to say that the best way to design a life preserver is in the form of a piano top. I think that we are clinging to a great many piano tops in accepting yesterday’s fortuitous contrivings as constituting the only means for solving a given problem. Our brains deal exclusively with special-case experiences. Only our minds are able to discover the generalized principles operating without exception in each and every special-experience case which if detected and mastered will give knowledgeable advantage in all instances. Because our spontaneous initiative has been frustrated, too often inadvertently, in earliest childhood we do not tend, customarily, to dare to think competently regarding our potentials. We find it socially easier to go on with our narrow, shortsighted specialization’s and leave it to others primarily to the politicians to find some way of resolving our common dilemmas. Buckminster Fuller

Never try to sell a meteor to a dinosaur. It wastes your time and irritates the dinosaur. Hugh Macleod

The following passage occurs near the beginning of H.M. Murray’s The Scottish Himalayan Expedition (1951):

… but when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money— booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!

Just because everything is different, it doesn’t mean that anything has changed. Irene Peter

People know what to do, they don’t do what they know. Tony Robbins

A Splendid Torch. George Bernard Shaw

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

Let’s make toast American style – you burn, I’ll scrape. Edwards Deming.

Stop starting and start finishing. David Anderson (and most Kanban coaches since)

It depends! Consultants everywhere

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Schopenhauer

First a new theory is attacked as absurd; then it is admitted to be true, but obvious and insignificant; finally it is seen to be so important that its adversaries claim they themselves discovered it.  William James


Happiness is the result of inner maturity. It depends on us alone, and requires patient work, carried out from day to day. Happiness must be built, and this requires time and effort. In the long term, happiness and unhappiness are therefore a way of being, or a life skill. Matthieu Ricard.

Theory without experience is useless. Experience without theory is expensive. A synopsis of Deming’s thoughts in Out of the Crisis.

Thus, the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen, but to think what nobody yet has thought
about that which everybody sees. Schopenhauer

I walk forward slowly but never walk back. Abraham Lincoln

Moshe Rubenstein

  • A question is relevant if the answer can make a difference in our choice of an action, or can change the level of confidence that we have in a choice. Otherwise, it is irrelevant. [The choice to perform an action] can be governed as much by what we may wish to avoid as by what we wish to achieve.
  • Often we move too quickly into a problem solving mode when we should spend more time on problem representation. Think of the word representation as if it were written as re-presentation. A problem well understood and well stated is often half solved.
    • A problem exists when the following elements are present in the mind of a human problem solver:
    • A perceived present or initial state
    • A perceived desired goal or end state
    • Perceived obstacles that prevent bridging the gap between the present and goal state
  • The level of difficulty of a problem is determined by the perception of how insurmountable the obstacles are.

I think the most important question facing humanity is, “Is the universe a friendly place?” This is the first and most basic question all people must answer for themselves. Einstein

Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. G.K. Chesterton

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. F. Scott Fitzgerald

It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts. John Wooden

Often reducing batch size is all it takes to bring a system back into control. Eli Goldratt, creator of Theory of Constraints

This report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read. Winson Churchill

Sir Ian McNaughton ran the BBC during its gold age (Monty Python, Black Adder, etc.). He was asked, “Sir Ian, with all of this innovative programming, aren’t you concerned about offending some people?”He replied, “Well, there are some people we wish to offend.”

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” Winston Churchill 

With sadness there is something to rub against, a wound to tend with lotion and cloth. When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up, something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs or change.  But happiness floats. It doesn’t need you to hold it down. Naomi Shihab Nyedf


  • Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.
  • Why does man not see things? He is himself standing in the way: he conceals things.
  • There is no truth, there are only possibilities.
  • Johann Goethe
  • If your treat an individual… as if he were what he ought to be and could be, he will become what he ought to be and could be.
  • The way you see people is the way you treat them, and the way you treat them is what they become.
  • None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.

Favorite Laws

Goodhart’s Law: Once a social or economic indicator or other surrogate measure is made a target for the purpose of conducting social or economic policy, then it will lose the information content that would qualify it to play that role.”  or, more succinctly, “When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.”

By Al Shalloway

The power of now is accepting things as they are, so you can see what needs to be done, while freeing you from the fears of the future and the limitations of the past so you can bring all of your abilities to work on the problem at hand.

or, for those who prefer proper English, The power of now is accepting things as they are, so you can see what needs to be done, while freeing you from the fears of the future and the limitations of the past. This enables you to bring all of your abilities to work on the problem at hand.

It’s amazing how many years it takes to see the most obvious of things.

Telling people to ‘just do it’ just doesn’t do it.

The best communicators are the ones who know that they are poor communicators.

Shalloway’s Law: When N things need to change and N > 1, then Shalloway will find at most N – 1 things.

Shalloway’s Principle: Avoid situations where Shalloway’s law applies.

Shalloway’s Corollary to Shalloway’s Law: When you’ve found your second case, you know you won’t find them all.

A pragmatist works within existing constraints while trying to eliminate them.

A purist insists others work the correct way and then makes them wrong when the don’t.

There is a big difference between how complex something is and how complex the explanation of it is.

Software development is a complicated problem. Getting people to agree how to do it well is a complex problem.

Unpredictable does not mean uncontrollable.

There is a big difference between micro-predictability (red/black) and macro-predictability (more money stays at the table than leaves).

One must remember that simple, complicated, chaos & complex often reflect our limited understanding more than the problem we are labeling

The primary question is not how to have the teams coordinate with each other as much as it is how do you reduce the need for them to coordinate. This, by the way, is difficult to do from the team level.

Dogma – Persistently working towards a goal without ever questioning the methods being used.

Persistence – Dogmatically working towards a goal without ever being committed to which methods are being used.

Busyness is bad business.

Coaches do not supply the ‘what’. They supply the ‘why’ when the ‘what’ they see being done is not addressing the why.

Whatever we don’t challenge will become an impediment eventually.

While I am precognitive impaired, I’m a big believer in macro-predictability. (See Types of Process – by Don Reinertsen for more info)

If one is concerned about the quality of their questions they will certainly miss asking some quality questions.

People confuse simple with minimalistic. This typically results in simplistic, not simple.

One shouldn’t start with simplicity as the goal. Simplicity is a means. What is your desired end result? What is the best way to get there?

The role of the Scrum Master is to enable a team to be predictably productive.

Fear is telling me that there is another way to look at things that will have me be a stronger person.

Fear stops us from seeing the opportunity in the challenge that is present.

Opportunities always present us with a way to become more powerful

I do not seek truth because I know I will never truly know truly if it’s truth. I seek that which is useful.

The moment you adopt a method to adopt or to sell is the moment you lose more possibility than you create

I do not think that great leadership is about letting teams fail. I think it’s about when they do fail, giving them encouragement and having them understand they are still the right people to get the job done.

Command and control does work.  Only it’s not about doing command and control on things outside of ourselves.  It’s about controlling our thoughts and commanding our actions.

You don’t need to know everything. You only need enough to take the next step.

The wonder of life is not that it is so hard but that we make it so hard,

Our path to greatness is not achieved by overcoming obstacles outside of us but by realizing we are great to begin with and overcoming our obstacles to manifesting that reality.

The power of faith is not in our beliefs, but in the actions that spring from these beliefs

There is value in answers-they can supply us with needed certainty in an uncertain situation. But we must recognize the certainty is false.

The point is not to be or do Agile. The point is to be effective. Agile provides us insights.

Two things to ask anyone promoting approach X. 1) “Where does approach X not work?” 2) “If I start with X, when/how do I abandon it?” If they can’t answer those question to your satisfaction then they don’t understand X well (or worse).

The purpose of a coach is not to tell people what to do but to help them see the world in a way that enables more effective action