Helpful One-Liners


There are a lot of one-liners that are useful and can teach us something.  I made a list of my top 5 and put a little something to them about what they mean personally to me.

1)      You reap what you sow.

Literally, it makes a lot of sense: I plant soybeans then I harvest soybeans.  Being from Central Illinois I have seen a lot of soybean and corn fields and I have yet to see a farmer plant corn and harvest soybeans.  But, with GMO products, who knows what could happen one day (but that is another blog for another time).

In Leadership, I think this is so true that it is haunting.  Our team is a reflection of us as leaders.  If our team is squabbling and bickering and high-maintenance, guess who is to blame.  If our team is incompetent and dependent upon us to get things done, guess who is to blame.  If our team is dysfunctional and non-productive, guess who is to blame.

We sow the attitudes, abilities, and behaviors of our teams.  You have designed your team to act the way they are acting, so you only have to look at yourself to find out how to change results.  Sobering…

2)      Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Talk about an oldie but a goodie!  The Golden Rule is golden because of the inherent truth that comes from it.  As Leaders we have to embody this rule every day.  We must expect it from others, but more importantly we must expect if of ourselves (obviously, because if we follow the rule we would expect it of ourselves if we expect it of others).

This rule expresses the essence of so many traits; fairness, kindness, loyalty, respect, maturity, honesty…  Because of this rule you can explain these very difficult, abstract concepts to a child.  So why is it so hard to follow this rule as mature adults?

3)      It’s not what you say but how you say it.

I hate to admit it, especially publicly, but my dad was right.  I remember him saying this to me as a child so much that I hated it.  As he started the phrase I would finish it in a mocking voice (thus proving his point) and then walk away thinking it was the dumbest thing anyone could say.  Now, I know how important tone, phrasing, body language, and approach are for any conversation, especially those difficult ones.

How we say things can often mean more than the message we are conveying.  If we are compassionate about what we are saying, if we take interest in who we are saying it to, if we are conscious of all of the things that make what we are saying have more impact and reinforce the message, then we are better communicators and better leaders.

See this post for a great reference from a great movie.

4)      A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

I often get hung up on what I don’t have instead of appreciating what I do have.  I mean that personally and as a Leader.  I want a bigger budget, I want more people, and I want more skills in my team.   So, instead of appreciating what I have and taking an interest in my team I find myself looking outside my group for the things I want.

Really what we should be doing is appreciating the people we have and investing in them appropriately.  Our team could probably help us find ways to work within our budget, get more done in less time with the same team, and we should invest in our people to grow the skills that are needed.

Look at what you have and find ways to do more.  Your team can help if you just let them.

5)      You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

I’m not quite sure how this phrase started, but it’s true.  I don’t think I have ever seen flies hovering around a vinegar bottle.  Still, I like the meaning.

I think this whole phrase boils down to approach.  If I want someone to do something, is it better to yell and berate him until it is done or to take an approach that is more appreciative and communicate the need?  Granted, the latter takes more time, but it gets better results.

The long-term benefits are massive.  As your approach is better, people feel more valued.  Valued people take more of an interest in what they are doing and, as a result, are more focused and are more productive with fewer errors.  Before long, you have a whole lot of very productive and happy flies around your honey jar.

How do these phrases connect with you?

What are some other phrases that help you stay on point?