By Pepper de Callier “We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.” Anais Nin What an eloquent reminder of our humanness. Nin is describing the most basic truth that one needs to grasp in order to embrace critical thinking. This quote applies to such a broad range of topics, but especially prejudices. In my work I often encounter issues dealing with the assimilation of two, or more different business cultures after a merger or acquisition. This often represents a time of stress and tension for a variety of reasons. One culture may be viewed as lazy, while that “lazy” culture looks at the other as being arrogant and not as competent. When I work withContinue Reading

By Pepper de Callier Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.” Arthur Schopenhauer Known to many in 19th century Germany as a “philosophical pessimist”, Schopenhauer’s work did not have much of an impact. That is, until after his death, and then his writing gained a large and influential following, including Nietzsche, Einstein, Freud, and Tolstoy. Schopenhauer’s insight into human nature is put on full display with this quote, which speaks to the limited frame of reference many have. Limited not by resources, necessarily, but by the willingness to seek input and view it with impartiality. It’s not easy to question yourself, especially, coming back to something you may have decidedContinue Reading

By Pepper de Callier “Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.” Mark Twain What would a book about common sense be without a quote from the master himself, Mark Twain ne Samuel Clemens? Many remember him fondly for his ability to make seemingly absurd statements, which trigger deeper thoughts. To me, this quote is talking to those of us who take things too literally, without thinking about the source or context. As an example, misinformation on the Internet would be a good place to start. Speaking of contextual thought, I am reminded of a very funny thing that happened to me when I was speaking to someone from Eastern Europe and she had mentioned aContinue Reading

By Pepper de Callier “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.” G. K. Chesterton The thing about common sense is that can be said so simply and comprise many applications in life. To me, this quote is speaking to those of us who act quickly, sometimes too quickly, and then regret our actions afterwards. Think of Chesterton’s words as a reminder to tap on the brake pedal a bit, to slow down for a moment, and ask yourself if you know enough to make the change you are contemplating. It’s often the unintended consequences that bring the most harm. Good luck on your journey!Continue Reading

By Pepper de Callier “We create stories to define our existence.” Elizabeth Gilbert A lot has been written about the power of stories and how effective they are at influencing the thoughts and actions of others. In my work with leaders helping them to hone their public speaking skills, one thing I tell them is to forget the words, and tell the stories. In doing this, we raise ourselves above the pedantic nature of repeating words on a slide, to creating a human link with the listeners. But, I would like to direct your thinking in the opposite direction: inward. The stories we tell ourselves become who we are and as Gilbert’s quote reminds us, they define us. Think aboutContinue Reading

By Pepper de Callier “Conscience is what makes a boy tell his mother before his sister does.” Evan Esar More likely than not, your reaction to this quote is what mine was: a smile. But, thinking about this quote, especially in today’s world of polarization, the thing I began to think about was how the boy developed his sense of conscience. We aren’t born with a sense of morality, integrity, and right and wrong. Someone, along with our life experience, helps bring the concept of conscience into, or out of, focus. As parents, friends, leaders, members of civil society, the need to instill and develop a sense of conscience in ourselves and others has never been more important. I thinkContinue Reading

By Pepper de Callier “Real leaders,” wrote the novelist David Foster Wallace, “are people who help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.” Over the years I have been asked many times to define leadership.  As you can well imagine, there are a number of very good, relevant definitions, depending on the challenge, the cycle the business is in, the resources available, etc., etc.  But, for me, a common thread running through all of them is the ability of the leader to bring out the best in people and get them to accomplish moreContinue Reading

By Pepper de Callier “There is no shame in being responsible.”  Anonymous In fact, I would add that responsibility is one of the most powerful elements of your personal brand.  Over the years I have spoken and written a lot about personal brands and the impact they have on one’s life.  Put yourself, for a moment, in the place of a hiring manager who is interviewing people for a key position—someone to lead a make-or-break project.  The finalists are all bright and have solid resumes, but you find out in referencing the candidates that one also has a deep sense of responsibility.  Which one would you want in that key position?  Let’s develop the thought a little further.  Think ofContinue Reading

“I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.”J. D. Salinger Author of the famous coming of age novel, Catcher in the Rye, Salinger gives us this humorous definition of positive thinking. I have always been accused of being an eternal optimist, but it wasn’t until I read this quote that my perspective jelled in my mind. Some may scoff and call this a pollyannish way of looking at life, but to me, if you mix in a little critical thinking and common-sense it can change your life experience. I’ll explain. Picture two people getting up in the morning and getting ready to go to work. One thinks that everyone is outContinue Reading

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” Albert Einstein What a timely quote for the troubles we face today. For years I told people that I feared we are losing our ability to have a dialogue with each other. In the hyper-partisan world of today, the definition of dialogue has become: Me convincing you that my way of thinking is better than yours. But, think about how nice it would be to, as Einstein suggests—with mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper—consider another’s position. This is what former President of Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel, called respecting the otherness of others. It’sContinue Reading