Gurteen Knowledge Quotations
Quotations are extremely effective at capturing and concisely communicating thoughts and ideas. They can be inspirational but more importantly quotations can help us reveal and assess the assumptions, values and beliefs that underlie the ways in which we perceive the world.
I am continually adding new material to this section of my website and have compiled over 900 quotations and short excerpts. Most of them relate to knowledge, knowledge management or learning in some form but its an eclectic mix.
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The list below represents the quotations that I particularly love and most reflect my values and beliefs and help shape them though some do not and are included because of their provocative thought inspiring nature. I hope you find them thought provoking and inspirational too.
The important thing in science is not so much to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.
The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
A human being is part of the whole, called by us 'Universe'; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest -- a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and affection for a few persons nearest us.
Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Nobody is able to achieve this completely but striving for such achievement is, in itself, a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.
The last of human freedoms - the ability to chose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances.
We teachers - perhaps all human beings - are in the grip of an astonishing delusion. We think that we can take a picture, a structure, a working model of something, constructed in our minds out of long experience and familiarity, and by turning that model into a string of words, transplant it whole into the mind of someone else.
Perhaps once in a thousand times, when the explanation is extraordinary good, and the listener extraordinary experienced and skillful at turning word strings into non-verbal reality, and when the explainer and listener share in common many of the experiences being talked about, the process may work, and some real meaning may be communicated.
Most of the time, explaining does not increase understanding, and may even lessen it.
Inventing the future requires giving up control. No one with a compelling purpose and a great vision knows how it will be achieved. One has to be willing to follow an unknown path, allowing the road to take you where it will. Surprise, serendipity, uncertainty and the unexpected are guaranteed on the way to the future.
Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult - once we truly understand and accept it - then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.
A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.
If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him.
Our own system of trying to guess what or how much a child's mind can assimilate results in cross purposes, misunderstanding, disappointments, anger and a general loss of harmony.
A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.
What a distressing contrast there is between the radiant intelligence of the child and the feeble mentality of the average adult.
Children do not need to be made to learn to be better, told what to do or shown how.
If they are given access to enough of the world, they will see clearly enough what things are truly important to themselves and to others, and they will make for themselves a better path into that world than anyone else could make for them.
Job security is gone. The driving force of a career must come from the individual.
Quality is a direct experience independent of and prior to intellectual abstractions.
Our thinking and our behavior are always in anticipation of a response. It is therefore fear-based.
The total quality movement and re-engineering both focus on process. What has been largely missing is any focus on relationship.
What you perceive, your observations, feelings, interpretations, are all your truth. Your truth is important. Yet it is not The Truth.
Loneliness is not cured by human company. Loneliness is cured by contact with reality.
If no one is pissed-off with you then you are dead but just haven't figured it out yet.
I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate himself by conscious endeavor.
A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.
Eliminate numerical quotas, including Management by Objectives.
The greater the scientist, the more he is impressed with his ignorance of reality, and the more he realizes that his laws and labels, descriptions and definitions, are the products of his own thought.
They help him to use the world for purposes of his own devising rather than understand and explain it.
The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.
I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.
The ancestor of every action is a thought.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life is, but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.
I think "knowledge management" is a bullshit issue.
Let me tell you why. I can give you perfect information, I can give you perfect knowledge and it won't change your behavior one iota.
People choose not to change their behavior because the culture and the imperatives of the organization make it too difficult to act upon the knowledge.
Knowledge is not the power. Power is power. The ability to act on knowledge is power.
Most people in most organizations do not have the ability to act on the knowledge they possess.
End of story.
Suppose we were able to share meanings freely without a compulsive urge to impose our view or conform to those of others and without distortion and self-deception. Would this not constitute a real revolution in culture.
I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.
There may be fairies at the bottom of the garden. There is no evidence for it, but you can't prove that there aren't any, so shouldn't we be agnostic with respect to fairies?
The ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained.
There are three principles in a man's being and life, the principle of thought, the principle of speech, and the principle of action.
The origin of all conflict between me and my fellow-men is that I do not say what I mean and I don't do what I say.
Spirituality means waking up. Most people, even though they don't know it, are asleep. They're born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. They never understand the loveliness and the beauty of this thing that we call human existence.
The purpose of science is not to analyse or describe but to make useful models of the world. A model is useful if it allows us to get use out of it.
Argument is meant to reveal the truth, not to create it.
I have to tell it again and again:
I have no doctrine. I only point out something.
I point out reality, I point out something in reality which has not or too little been seen.
I take him who listens to me at his hand and lead him to the window.
I push open the window and point outside.
I have no doctrine, I carry on a dialogue.
I do not accept any absolute formulas for living. No preconceived code can see ahead to everything that can happen in a man's life. As we live, we grow and our beliefs change. They must change. So I think we should live with this constant discovery. We should be open to this adventure in heightened awareness of living. We should stake our whole existence on our willingness to explore and experience.
Beliefs: Those things we hold to be true despite evidence to the contrary.
In the perspective of every person lies a lens through which we may better understand ourselves.
We must become the change we want to see in the world.
When making a decision of minor importance, I have always found it advantageous to consider all the pros and cons. In vital matters, however, such as the choice of a mate or a profession, the decision should come from the unconscious, from somewhere within ourselves. In the important decisions of personal life, we should be governed, I think, by the deep inner needs of our nature.
No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
Judging by what I have learned about men and women, I am convinced that far more idealistic aspiration exists than is ever evident. Just as the rivers we see are much less numerous than the underground streams, so the idealism that is visible is minor compared to what men and women carry in their hearts, unreleased or scarcely released. Mankind is waiting and longing for those who can accomplish the task of untying what is knotted and bringing the underground waters to the surface.
Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Consider prejudice. Once a person begins to accept a stereotype of a particular group, that "thought" becomes an active agent, "participating" in shaping how he or she interacts with another person who falls in that stereotyped class. In turn, the tone of their interaction influences the other person's behaviour. The prejudiced person can't see how his prejudice shapes what he "sees" and how he acts. In some sense, if he did, he would no longer be prejudiced. To operate, the "thought" of prejudice must remain hidden to its holder
The metaphor is perhaps one of man's most fruitful potentialities. Its efficacy verges on magic, and it seems a tool for creation which God forgot inside one of His creatures when He made him.
Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum.
Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
All perception of truth is the detection of an analogy.
Henry David Thoreau
If we are to survive, we must have ideas, vision, and courage. These things are rarely produced by committees. Everything that matters in our intellectual and moral life begins with an individual confronting his own mind and conscience in a room by himself.
Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.
Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is more to life than increasing its speed.
I always wanted to be somebody, but I should have been more specific.
Two basic rules of life are: 1) Change is inevitable. 2) Everybody resists change.
W. Edwards Deming
The best way to predict the future is to create it.
Peter F. Drucker
Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by the age of eighteen.
The essential conditions of everything you do must be choice, love, passion.
Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.
What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within us out into the world, miracles happen.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
1. Out of clutter, find simplicity. 2. From discord, find harmony. 3. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.
The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.
Nothing in the world can take place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Men use thought only as authority for their injustice, and employ speech only to conceal their thoughts.
One can resist the invasion of an army but one cannot resist the invasion of ideas.
Instead of a national curriculum for education, what is really needed is an individual curriculum for every child
If the world operates as one big market, every employee will compete with every person anywhere in the world who is capable of doing the same job. There are lots of them and many of them are hungry.
Andrew S. Grove
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!
It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out nor more doubtful of success nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things; for the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order; this lukewarmness arising partly from the incredulity of mankind who does not truly believe in anything new until they actually have experience of it.
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit
Not only do we as individuals get locked into single-minded views, but we also reinforce these views for each other until the culture itself suffers the same mindlessness.
There are three constants in life - change, choice and principles.
Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it.
Humour is by far the most significant behaviour of the human mind.
You may find this surprising. If humour is so significant, why has it been so neglected by traditional philosophers, psychologists and information scientists?
Why humour is so significant and why it has been so neglected by traditional thinkers together form the key to this book.
Humour tells us more about how the brain works as mind, than does any other behaviour of the mind - including reason.
It indicates that our traditional thinking methods, and our thinking about these methods, have been based on the wrong model of information system.
It tells us something about perception which we have traditionally neglected in favour of logic.
It tells us directly about the possibility of changes in perception.
It shows us that these changes can be followed by instant changes in emotion - something that can never be achieved by logic.
Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning.
A man found an eagle's egg and put it in a nest of a barnyard hen. The eaglet hatched with the brood of chicks and grew up with them. All his life the eagle did what the barnyard chicks did, thinking he was a barnyard chicken. He scratched the earth for worms and insects. He clucked and cackled. And he would thrash his wings and fly a few feet into the air.
Years passed and the eagle grew very old. One day he saw a magnificent bird above him in the cloudless sky. It glided in graceful majesty among the powerful wind currents, with scarcely a beat on his strong golden wings. The old eagle looked up in awe. "Who's that?" he asked. "That's the eagle, the king of the birds," said his neighbour. "He belongs to the sky. We belong to the earth - we're chickens." So the eagle lived and died a chicken, for that's what he thought he was.
Problems only exist in the human mind.
Where there is love there are no demands, no expectations, no dependency. I do not demand that you make me happy; my happiness does not lie in you. If you were to leave me, I will not feel sorry for myself; I enjoy your company immensely, But I do not cling.
What defeats poverty? Education. What increases net worth? Education. What helps race and ethnic relations? Education. What creates harmony and peace? Education. Re-educating people to live together and learn together is the foundation of our future economy.
As I grow to understand life less and less I grow to love it more and more.
Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits.
When minds meet, they don't just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought.
Conversation doesn't just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.
If we could shrink the earth's population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following:
14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
52 would be female
48 would be male
70 would be non-white
30 would be white
70 would be non Christian
30 would be Christian
89 would be heterosexual
11 would be homosexual
6 people would possess 59% of the entire world's wealth and all 6 would be from the United States
80 would live in substandard housing
70 would be unable to read
50 would suffer from malnutrition
1 would be near death - 1 would be near birth
1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education
1 would own a computer
When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for both acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.
So now, Athenian men, more than on my own behalf must I defend myself, as some may think, but on your behalf, so that you may not make a mistake concerning the gift of god by condemning me.
For if you kill me, you will not easily find another such person at all, even if to say in a ludicrous way, attached on the city by the god, like on a large and well-bred horse, by its size and laziness both needing arousing by some gadfly; in this way the god seems to have fastened me on the city, some such one who arousing and persuading and reproaching each one of you I do not stop the whole day settling down all over.
Thus such another will not easily come to you, men, but if you believe me, you will spare me; but perhaps you might possibly be offended, like the sleeping who are awakened, striking me, believing Anytus, you might easily kill, then the rest of your lives you might continue sleeping, unless the god caring for you should send you another.
My personal feeling is that this is how any further improvement of the world will be done: by individuals making Quality decisions and that's all.
God, I don't want to have any more enthusiasm for big programs full of social planning for big masses of people that leave individual Quality out.
These can be left alone for a while. There's a place for them but they've got to be built on a foundation of Quality within the individuals involved.
We've had that individual Quality in the past, exploited it as a natural resource without knowing it, and now it's just about depleted.
Everyone's just about out of gumption. And I think it's about time to return to the rebuilding of this American resource -- individual worth.
The most important, and indeed the truly unique, contribution of management in the 20th century was the fifty-fold increase in the productivity of the MANUAL WORKER in manufacturing. The most important contribution management needs to make in the 21st century is similarly to increase the productivity of KNOWLEDGE WORK and the KNOWLEDGE WORKER.
What is love?"
"The total absence of fear," said the Master.
"What is it we fear?"
"Love," said the Master.
The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance.
An unexamined life is not worth living.
Business is a conversation because the defining work of business is conversation - literally. And 'knowledge workers' are simply those people whose job consists of having interesting conversations.
You do not lead by hitting people over the head - that's assault, not leadership.
Dwight D Eisenhower
People don't resist change; they resist being changed.
It's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.
The snow goose need not bathe to make itself white. Neither need you do anything but be yourself.
To find yourself, think for yourself.
To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
By all means marry: If you get a good wife, you'll become happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.
For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are those "It might have been".
John Greenleaf Whittier
To see a World in a grain of sand,
And Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.
The ability to act on knowledge is power. Most people in most organizations do not have the ability to act on the knowledge they possess.
There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.
For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world, and, although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won.
You can't manage knowledge.Knowledge is between two ears and only between two ears.
Peter F. Drucker
Whosoever reads the Scriptures in the mother tongue, shall forfeit land, cattle, life, and goods from their heirs forever, and so be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the crown, and most arrant traitors to the land.
Conversation is the way that humans have always thought together. In conversation we discover shared meaning.
It is the primal human organizing tool.
Even in the corridors of power, very little real action happens in debate, but rather in the side rooms, the hallways, the lunches, the times away from the ritual spaces of authority and in the relaxed spaces of being human.
In all of our design of meetings, engagement, planning or whatever, if you aren’t building conversation into the process, you will not benefit from the collective power and wisdom of humans thinking together.
These are not “soft” processes.
This is how wars get started and how wars end.
It’s how money is made, lives started, freedom realized. It is the core human organizing competency.
Margaret J. Wheatley
There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.
I think these things [social networks] are going to have some legs,and yet there's a faddishness, a faddish nature about anything that basically appeals to younger people.
I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't.
It’s not information overload. It’s filter failure.
Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.
The important question is whether [a theory] is true, not whether envisioning an alternative is too intellectually painful to bear.
Learning is a contact sport.
The most widespread and pervasive learning in your organization may not be happening in training rooms, conference rooms or board rooms but in the cafeteria, the hallways and the cafe across the street.
All actions are wrought by the qualities of nature only. The self, deluded by egoism, thinketh: 'I am the doer.'
I will ignore all ideas for new works and engines of war, the invention of which has reached its limits and for whose improvement I see no further hope.
The secret of life is to have a task, something you devote your entire life to, something you bring everything to, every minute of the day for the rest of your life.
And the most important thing is, it must be something you cannot possibly do.
Yes, you can make a person utter the words. If you have a sufficiently large rifle, you can also make them goose-step and murder their enemies.
You can hound them into submission, you can brainwash them, make them believe in nutty causes and blow themselves up, make them memorize the spelling of fifty thousand words, lull them into believing that the Grand Canyon was created by a giant hand, convince them that people of a different skin colour are animals, almost anything.
You can shape people with no end of methods and mechanations physical and psychological.
But you can't use any of this to make them learn. You can't make them understand.
Understanding is a voluntary act. It is the act of a free person, inhabiting a world in which he or she can interact with a stimulating and diverse environment, creating a rich fabric of what we would call thoughts, feelings, emotions, hopes, fears, and all the rest of it.
Understanding and learning are the results of a life-long process of experience and growth.
You can present the things you think are important and should be valued, but people must accept these for themselves. Freely.
The application of what we know already will have a bigger impact on health and disease than any drug or technology likely to be introduced in the next decade.
Sir Muir Gray
In the nineteenth century health was transformed by clear, clean water. In the twenty-first century, health will be transformed by clean clear knowledge.
Sir Muir Gray
Conversation has a kind of charm about it, an insinuating and insidious something that elicits secrets from us just like love or liquor.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and you're life is just to live your life inside the world.
Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money.
That's a very limited life.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.
Once you learn that, you'll never be the same again.
Knowledge Management is practised through activities that support better decision-making.
IM is practised by improving the systems that store, capture, transmit etc information.
Accountabilty is the willingness to acknowledge that we have participated in creating, through comission or ommision, the conditions that we wish to see changed.
Without this capacity to see ourselves as cause, our efforts become either coercive or wishfully dependent on the transformation of others.
Community will be created the moment we decide to act as creators of what it can become.
This requires us to believe that this organization, neighborhood, community is mine or ours to create.
This will occur when we are willing to ask the question "How have I contributed to the current reality?"
Confusion, blame and waiting for someone else to change are a defense against ownership and personal power.
There is only one cause of unhappiness: the false beliefs you have in your head, beliefs so widespread, so commonly held, that it never occurs to you to question them.
Learning is all about connections, and through our connections with unique people we are able to gain a true understanding of the world around us.
Thamus inquired into the use of each of them, and as Theuth went through them expressed approval or disapproval, according as he judged Theuth"s claims to be well or ill founded ...
When it came to writing, Theuth declared: "Here is an accomplishment, my lord the king, which will improve both the wisdom and the memory of Egyptians. I have discovered a sure receipt for memory and wisdom."
"Theuth, my paragon of inventors," replied the king, "the discoverer of an art is not the best judge of the good or harm which will accrue to those who practise it.
So it is in this case; you, who are the father of writing, have out of fondness for your offspring attributed to it quite the opposite of its real function.
Those who acquire it will cease to exercise their memory and become forgetful; they will rely on writing to bring things to their remembrance by external signs instead of their own internal resources.
What you have discovered is a receipt for collection, not for memory.
And as for wisdom, your pupils will have the reputation for it without the reality: they will receive a quantity of information without proper instruction, and in consequence be thought very knowledgable when they are for the most part quite ignorant.
And because they are filled with the conceit of wisdom instead of real wisdom they will be a burden to society.
I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, But, I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not really what I meant.
A true Knowledge Café is not about group decision making or reaching a consensus or a documented proposal.
A true Knowledge Café is about individual learning, and insights; the surfacing of assumptions, issues, problems, and opportunities; seeing things that have not been seen before or seen only dimly.
When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent.
Do you see why it is violent?
Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind.
When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence.
So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.
Motivation is a fire from within. If someone else tries to light that fire under you, chances are it will burn very briefly.
Something fundamental changes when people begin to ask questions together.
The questions create more of a learning conversation than the normal stale debate about problems.
The world does not need a better definition of issues, or better planning or project management.
It needs the issues and the plans to have more of an impact, which is the promise of engagement.
What is much more deeply political is the concept of Wikipedia, that ordinary people should be able to participate in the grand human dialogue.
It's a very subversive idea in a society that is top-down.
Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.
There is a profound difference between information and meaning.
In the new economy, conversations are the most important form of work.
Conversations are the way knowledge workers discover what they know, share it with their colleagues, and in the process create new knowledge in the organization.
Conversations inside and outside the company are the chief mechanism for making change and renewal an ongoing part of the company's culture.
One of the many paradoxes of the new economy is that conversation - traditionally regarded as a waste of time - is in fact the key resource for competing on time.
The only way that someone can be of help to you is by challenging your ideas.
Don't get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear ...
To be committed means you are willing to make a promise with no exception of return.
Advice is unfriendly to learning, especially when it is sought.
Most of the time when people seek advice, they just want to be heard.
Advice at best stops the conversation, definitely inhibits learning, and at worst claims dominance.
Most conversations are simply monologues delivered in the presence of witnesses.
This "us and them" problem is exacerbated by our reliance on impersonal communications technologies.
One of a leader’s greatest challenges these days is getting people to actually talk to each other; one-on-one meetings and old-fashioned brainstorming are vital to the success of any growing business.
Improving the flow of information is just one part of the communications challenge; getting employees to actually listen to each other is much more difficult.
A big part of the problem is that the only word that gets more play than “they” is “I.”
Unfortunately we are so steeped in debate, proving one’s point and challenging others, that alternative possibilities for interaction are often eclipsed from our view.
It is interesting to notice that even when we say we want to dialogue we commonly end up in debate.
We appear to have a longing to do something different but the vortex of habit confounds us.
As a result our options for building mutual respect, deepening understanding among each other, and creating more beneficial outcomes than we experience currently are severely limited.
In spite of current ads and slogans, the world doesn't change one person at a time.
It changes as networks of relationships form among people who discover they share a common cause and vision of what's possible.
This is good news for those of us intent on changing the world and creating a positive future.
Rather than worry about critical mass, our work is to foster critical connections.
We don't need to convince large numbers of people to change; instead, we need to connect with kindred spirits.
Through these relationships, we will develop the new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment that lead to broad-based change.
Margaret J. Wheatley
We must establish a personal connection with each other.
Connection before content.
Without relatedness, no work can occur.
If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.
Conversation is the most powerful learning technology ever invented.
Conversations carry news, create meaning, foster cooperation, and spark innovation.
Encouraging open, honest conversation through work space design, setting ground rules for conversing productively, and baking conversation into the corporate culture spread intellectual capital, improve cooperation, and strengthen personal relationships.
We get to knowledge — especially "actionable" knowledge — by having desires and curiosity, through plotting and play, by being wrong more often than right, by talking with others and forming social bonds, by applying methods and then backing away from them, by calculation and serendipity, by rationality and intuition, by institutional processes and social roles.
Most important in this regard, where the decisions are tough and knowledge is hard to come by, knowledge is not determined by information, for it is the knowing process that first decides which information is relevant, and how it is to be used.
In the knowledge economy everyone is a volunteer, but we have trained our managers to manage conscripts.
Peter F. Drucker
I don’t think of my life as a career. I do stuff. I respond to stuff. That’s not a career -- it’s a life!”
It is not given to human beings, happily for them, for otherwise life would be intolerable, to foresee or to predict to any large extent the unfolding course of events.
In one phase men seem to have been right, in another they seem to have been wrong.
Then again, a few years later, when the perspective of time has lengthened, all stands in a different setting.
There is a new proportion. There is another scale of values.
History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.
I don't forgive people because I'm weak, I forgive them because I'm strong enough to know that people make mistakes.
Nature is not, of course, always benign and beautiful. It can be frightening and terrifying also.
Not too many generations ago, raw nature and wilderness tended to inspire fear and dread in "civilized" people.
They represented Otherness and the Unknown. That which is "wild" is also "bewildering".
Today, wilderness is usually considered to be something good and in need of preservation.
The beauty and awesomeness of it dominate our attention.
We are attracted by wilderness, the Otherness of it, the sense it is something inevitably outside of us.
Always beyond us, it is what is ultimately real.
We cannot adequately appreciate this aspect of nature if we approach it with any taint of human pretense.
It will elude us if we allow artifacts like clothing to intervene between ourselves and this Other.
To apprehend it, we cannot be naked enough.
In Wildness is the preservation of the world.
In the past the man has been first; in the future the system must be first.
This in no sense, however, implies that great men are not needed.
On the contrary, the first object of any good system must be that of developing first-class men; and under systematic management the best man rises to the top more certainly and more rapidly than ever before.
Whereas young people become accomplished in geometry and mathematics, and wise within these limits, prudent young people do not seem to be found.
The reason is that prudence is concerned with particulars as well as universals, and particulars become known from experience, but a young person lacks experience, since some length of time is needed to produce it.
I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsam and jetsam in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him.
Martin Luther King
The basic economic resource - the means of production - is no longer capital, nor natural resources, nor labour. It is and will be knowledge.
Peter F. Drucker
There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards.
The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
Did you ever notice that 'what the hell' is always the right decision?
Action in war is like movement in a resistant element. Just as the simplest and most natural of movements, walking, cannot easily be performed in water, so in war, it is difficult for normal efforts to achieve even moderate results.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.
Henry David Thoreau
No humane being, past the thoughtless age of boyhood, will wantonly murder any creature which holds its life by the same tenure that he does.
Corporations, in the name of efficiency, suppress variation by "getting all the ducks in line."
To optimize productivity, they evolve highly refined and internally consistent operating systems.
Payoff - results - as long as the music lasts.
But ... all that streamlining and re-engineering limits diversity, suppresses self-organization ... and curtails a bottom up emergent response to disruptive change.
Unintended consequences get to the heart of why you never really understand an adaptive problem until you have solved it.
Problems morph and "solutions" often point to deeper problems.
In social life, as in nature, we are walking on a trampoline.
Every inroad reconfigures the environment we tread on.
Knowledge does not advance practice. Rather practice advances knowledge.
The real objective isn't just "knowledge" or getting an 80--20 understanding of the situation. The overriding objective is engagement, creating a buzz, mobilizing people to take action.
Contrary to widespread faith in "communication" and "knowledge transfer," information has a social life, and unless new insights are embedded in the social system they evaporate.
Explicit knowledge, conventionally delivered like pizza (neat boxes with toppings of concepts, theories, best practices and war stories), is consumed by the brain but not metabolized into action.
The learning we call intuition, know-how and common sense gets into the blood stream through osmosis. It is shaped by social context.
Discoveries from one community cannot be repackaged and provided to another as a silver bullet, That's a "best practice" rollout and it invariably evokes the immune rejection response.
We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed.
The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous.
The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned.
Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful.
If you are leaping a ravine, the moment of takeoff is a bad time for considering alternative strategies.
When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don’t waste energy trying to see the funny side of it. Do it in the “closed” mode.
But the moment the action is over, try to return to the “open” mode - to open your mind again to all the feedback from our action that enables us to tell whether the action has been successful, or whether further action is need to improve on what we have done.
In other words, we must return to the open mode, because in that mode we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent.
A man with outward courage dares to die. A man with inward courage dares to live.
A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.
Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.
But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards.
I hate quotation. Tell me what you know.
Gravitation can not be held responsible for people falling in love.
You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother.
...Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it, and carry on.
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. So is a lot.
Like many women my age, I am 28 years old.
Let the bird sing without deciphering the song.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I want to put a ding in the universe.
True values are not taught and declared, they evolve through the acts and interaction of the living, they are understood at a near tacit level by those who live them.
Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.
Our gross national product ... if we should judge America by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.
It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them.
It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.
It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets.
It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play.
It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.
It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
Robert F. Kenendy
Information Management is about organising stuff.
Knowledge Management isn’t!
If you're going to be thinking anything, you might as well think big.
Thinking will not overcome fear but action will.
W. Clement Stone
Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.
The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.
I will act now. I will act now. I will act now.
Henceforth, I will repeat these words each hour, each day, everyday, until the words become as much a habit as my breathing, and the action which follows becomes as instinctive as the blinking of my eyelids.
With these words I can condition my mind to perform every action necessary for my success.
I will act now. I will repeat these words again and again and again.
I will walk where failures fear to walk.
I will work when failures seek rest. I will act now for now is all I have.
Tomorrow is the day reserved for the labor of the lazy. I am not lazy.
Tomorrow is the day when the failure will succeed. I am not a failure. I will act now.
Success will not wait. If I delay, success will become wed to another and lost to me forever.
This is the time. This is the place. I am the person.
One person always loves more. That's what makes it so difficult. And the one who loves more is vulnerable.
Someone once told me that the power in all relationships lies with whoever cares less, and he was right. But power isnt happiness, and I think that maybe happiness comes from caring more about people rather than less ...
I have been saying for many years that we are using the word ‘guru’ only because ‘charlatan’ is too long to fit into a headline.
It's never enough to tell people about some new insight.
Instead of pouring knowledge into people's heads, you need to help them grind a new set of eyeglasses so they can see the world in a new way.
That involves challenging the implicit assumptions that have shaped the way people have historically looked at things.
John Seely Brown
They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
You are the lens in the beam.
You can only receive, give, and possess the light as the lens does.
If you seek yourself, you rob the lens of its transparency.
You will know life and be acknowledged by it according to your degree of transparency, your capacity, that is, to vanish as an end, and remain purely as a means.
Everything that happens to you is your teacher.
The secret is to learn to sit at the feet of your own life and be taught by it.
Modern man thinks he loses something - time - when he does not do things quickly, yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains except to kill it.
Now that it's all over, what did you really do yesterday that's worth mentioning?
The Army's After Action Review (AAR) is arguably one of the most successful organizational learning methods yet devised.
Yet, most every corporate effort to graft this truly innovative practices into their culture has failed because, again and again, people reduce the living practice of AAR's to a sterile technique.
Humans have a tendency to fall prey to the illusion that their economy is at the very center of the universe, forgetting that the biosphere is what ultimately sustains all systems, both man-made and natural. In this sense, ‘environmental issues’ are not about saving the planet -- it will always survive and evolve with new combinations of atoms --but about the prosperous development of our own species.
What is the use of planning to be able to eat next week unless I can really enjoy the meals when they come?
If I am so busy planning how to eat next week that I cannot fully enjoy what I am eating now, I will be in the same predicament when next week's meals become "now."
If my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, I am but dimly aware of this present.
I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that I have been expecting come to pass.
For I shall have formed a habit of looking behind and ahead, making it difficult for me to attend to the here and now.
If, then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, I must begin to wonder whether I am actually living in the real world.
You can't connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards.
So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.
You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.
Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.
A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.
People will listen when they're ready to listen and not before.
Don’t waste time with people who want to argue.
They’ll keep you immobilized forever.
Look for people who are already open to something new.
We think the Mac will sell zillions, but we didn’t build the Mac for anybody else. We built it for ourselves. We were the group of people who were going to judge whether it was great or not. We weren’t going to go out and do market research. We just wanted to build the best thing we could build.
When you’re a carpenter making a beautiful chest of drawers, you’re not going to use a piece of plywood on the back, even though it faces the wall and nobody will ever see it. You’ll know it’s there, so you’re going to use a beautiful piece of wood on the back. For you to sleep well at night, the aesthetic, the quality, has to be carried all the way through.
The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
Although the two are identical twins, man, as a rule, views the prenatal abyss with more calm than the one he is heading for (at some forty-five hundred heartbeats an hour).
Of all the girls I ever knew
some loved and some denied me
And all the words I ever said
have been no use to hide me
And all the songs I ever sung
each one of them untied me
And all the girls I ever loved
have left themselves inside me.
O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
I'm selfish, impatient and a little insecure.
I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle.
But if you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.
Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position, but certainty is an absurd one.
Don't speak to me about your religion;
first show it to me in how you treat other people.
Don't tell me how much you love your God;
show me in how much you love all God's children.
Don't preach to me your passion for your faith;
teach me through your compassion for your neighbors.
In the end, I'm not as interested in what you have to tell or sell as I am in how you choose to live and give.
Don’t handicap your children by making their lives easy.
A competent and self-confident person is incapable of jealousy in anything.
Jealousy is invariably a symptom of neurotic insecurity.
It is said that a dispassionate young man approached the Greek philosopher and casually said, "O great Socrates, I come to you for knowledge."
The philosopher took the young man down to the sea, waded in with him, and then dunked him under the water for thirty seconds.
When he let the young man up for air, Socrates asked him to repeat what he wanted. "Knowledge, O great one," he sputtered.
Socrates put him under the water again, only this time a little longer.
After repeated dunkings and responses, the philosopher asked, "What do you want?" The young man finally gasped, "Air. I want air!"
"Good," answered Socrates. "Now, when you want knowledge as much as you wanted air, you shall have it.
Economists and workplace consultants regard it as almost unquestioned dogma that people are motivated by rewards, so they don’t feel the need to test this.
It has the status more of religious truth than scientific hypothesis.
The facts are absolutely clear.
There is no question that in virtually all circumstances in which people are doing things in order to get rewards, extrinsic tangible rewards undermine intrinsic motivation.
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.
When one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity.
When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion.
Robert M. Pirsig
Our prevailing system of management has destroyed our people.
People are born with intrinsic motivation, self-respect, dignity, curiosity to learn, joy in learning.
The forces of destruction begin with toddlers -- a prize for the best Halloween costume, grades in school, gold stars -- and on up through the university.
On the job people, teams, and divisions are ranked, reward for the top, punishment for the bottom.
Management by Objectives, quotas, incentive pay, business plans, put together separately, division by division, cause further loss, unknown and unknowable.
W. Edwards Deming
People mistakenly assume that their thinking is done by their head; it is actually done by the heart which first dictates the conclusion, then commands the head to provide the reasoning that will defend it.
Uncertainty Is an uncomfortable position.
But certainty Is an absurd one.
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.
An enterprise is a community of human beings, not a collection of "human resources".
Science, of course, has no brief to be useful, but many of the technological and social changes that have revolutionized our lives have arisen out of fundamental research carried out by modern-day explorers whose only motivation is to better understand the world around them.
These curiosity-led voyages of discovery across all scientific disciplines have delivered increased life expectancy, intercontinental air travels, modern telecommunications, freedom from the drudgery of subsistence farming and a sweeping, inspiring and humbling vision of our place within an infinite sea of stars.
But these are all in a sense spinoffs.
We explore because we are curious, not because we wish to develop grand views of reality or better widgets.
A really good conversation is open but it is NOT aimless. Its not about small talk.
In science it often happens that scientists say, "You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken," and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again.
They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful.
But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.
Show me a Professor of Education, especially a Professor of E-learning, who lectures, and I’ll show you a hypocrite who doesn’t read the research.
We need to tell people not to be helpful.
Trying to be helpful and giving advise are really ways to control others. ...
Advice, recommendations, and obvious actions are exactly what increase the likelihood that tomorrow will be just like yesterday.
An organsation's results are determined through webs of human commitments, born in webs of human conversations.
Conversations are the way workers discover what they know, share it with their colleagues, and in the process create new knowledge for the organisation.
In the new economy, conversations are the most important form of work ... so much so that the conversation is the organisation.
The task of leadership is to be intentional about the way we group people and the questions that we engage them in.
If you can design the physical space, the social space, and the information space together to enhance collaborative learning, then that whole milieu turns into a learning technology.
John Seely Brown
A leader these days needs to be a host -- one who convenes diversity; who convenes all viewpoints in creative processes where our mutual intelligence can come forth.
Margaret J. Wheatley
Relationship and connectedness are the pre-condition for change.
Every meeting, every process, every training program has to get people connected first.
Otherwise the content falls on deaf ears.
So small groups are an essential building block to any future you want to create.
Organizations live or die in the swarm of daily interchange --
in complimenting and criticizing,
passing and retaining information,
smiling and frowning,
asking and answering,
demanding and resisting,
controlling and consenting.
What injects meaning into one’s work is derived neither from the individual alone, nor environmental forces, but from participation in the swarm.
It is often asserted that discussion is only possible between people who have a common language and accept common basic assumptions.
I think that this is a mistake.
All that is needed is a readiness to learn from one's partner in the discussion, which includes a genuine wish to understand what he intends to say.
If this readiness is there, the discussion will be the more fruitful the more the partner's backgrounds differ.
Give, give, give -- what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if I don't give it away?
Of having stories if I don't tell them to others?
Of having wealth if I don't share it?
I don't intend to be cremated with any of it!
It is in giving that I connect with others, with the world and with the divine.
What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others.
The traditional conference format is all too familiar.
Conferences open in large plenary sessions with a few experts speaking to the crowd, the participants seated in rows of chairs too close together, and then there are break-out sessions where experts speak to smaller groups of people, seated once again in rows with little opportunity for interaction or conversation except for brief questions and answers.
Ironically, the most substantial conversations at conferences occur informally during the coffee breaks, meals, and cocktail hours rather than during the formal meeting times.
The challenge that faces conference planners is how to bring new life and energy into the formal sessions.
Conference participants usually attend meetings and conferences to meet new people, to get together with old friends and colleagues, to make connections with individuals they have heard about, to learn about what is new in their field, to learn about things they need to know, to network, and to learn about new ideas and ways of getting things done.
Yet when conference participants sit in rows and get talked at hour after hour in dark rooms where slides and overheads are all they can see, people get bored, feel disconnected, and may feel they are not getting what they want and need.
Moreover, when new participants enter this kind of conference arena they may often find it difficult to make the initial connections that would help them feel comfortable enough to want to return to subsequent meetings.
In this new world, you and I make it up as we go along, not because we lack expertise or planning skills, but because that is the nature of reality.
Reality changes shape and meaning because of our activity.
And it is constantly new.
We are required to be there, as active participants. It can’t happen without us and nobody can do it for us.
The shift in the world begins with a shift in our thinking.
Shifting our thinking does not change the world, but it creates a condition where the shift in the world becomes possible.
Today, cultural and legal changes mean that individuals expect and demand a voice in decisions that affect their lives and often they have the power to undermine those decisions if they aren't allow their voice.
Lecture is the transfer of the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the student without passing through either.
Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
While tacit knowledge can be possessed by itself, explicit knowledge must rely on being tacitly understood and applied.
Hence all knowledge is either tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge.
A wholly explicit knowledge is unthinkable.
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.
Pursue something so important that even if you fail, the world is better off with you having tried.
Conversation has a kind of charm about it, an insinuating and insidious something that elicits secrets from us just like love or liquor.
Lucius Annaeus Seneca
Conversational Leadership takes root when leaders see their organisations as dynamic webs of conversation and consider conversation as a core process for effecting positive systemic change.
Taking a strategic approach to this core process can not only grow intellectual and social capital, but also provide a collaborative advantage in our increasingly networked world.
The greater the ignorance, the greater the dogmatism.
“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.
Specialization is for insects.”
When will we make the same breakthroughs in the way we treat each other as we have made in technology?
Dissent is the cousin of diversity; the respect for wide range of beliefs.
This begins by allowing people the space to say "no".
If we cannot say "no" then "yes" has no meaning.
Each needs the chance to express their doubts and reservations without having to justify them, or move quickly into problem solving.
"No" is the beginning of the conversation for commitment.
Doubt and "no" is a symbolic expression of people finding their space and role in the strategy.
It is when we fully understand what people do not want that choice becomes possible.
The leadership task is to surface doubts and dissent without having an answer to every question.
The leader is the one who climbs the tallest tree, surveys the entire situation, and yells, 'Wrong jungle!' ...
Busy, efficient producers and managers often respond ... 'Shut up! We’re making progress!'
Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.
Conversation is the single greatest learning tool in your organization -- more important than computers or sophisticated research.
As a society, we know the art of small talk; we can talk about how the Red Sox are doing or where we went on vacation.
But when we face contentious issues -- when there are feelings about rights, or when two worthwhile principles come in conflict with one another -- we have so many defense mechanisms that impede communications that we are absolutely terrible.
03:52 PM GDT