Life is like a box of trite and world-weary expressions

Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Dandy Stevenson.

life_is_like_a_baaaox_of_lemonsIt probably all started with Plato, damn him, when he wrote “the beginning is the most important part of the work.” That spawned “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step” which begat “success is 10 percent inspiration and 90 percent perspiration” and before you knew it we’re being told to “make lemonade out of lemons.”

There are thousands of these vapid and stale quotes and each time one is used, it becomes more pedestrian. What really concerns me, though, is when someone uses one and acts as if it’s the first time anyone has ever done so and receives credit for doing so in a major business publication: “75 Inspiring Motivational Quotes on Leadership.”

And in this case, maybe the author googled “famous quotes” and then did a big copy and paste, because I hate to think he really believes number seven: “Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men- the other 999 follow women.” (Groucho Marx.) OUCH! This is a motivational leadership quote? No, THIS is a discrimination lawsuit.

And, finding contradictions is like shooting fish in a barrel. Consider these “motivational quotes on leadership”:
–    Reagan said, “Surround yourself with great people; delegate authority; get out of the way.” Got it: leaders should just let those under them have at it.
–    But Steve Jobs said, “My job is to take these great people we have and to push them and make them even better.”  Oh, OK; push them and don’t leave them on their own.
–    And Roslyn Carter said “A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” So they really need to be led?
–    Uh-oh. Patton said “Don’t tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results.”  So underlings should be ordered to do what you want.

Pretty messy, right?  The point is, anything you want to prove, direct or inspire can be handled with one nifty quote.

But no article about meaningless quotes is complete without that treacle infested line from Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates…” Really Forrest? It’s also like a radial tire: you have to go thru rough patches to see all the strong layers. It’s like a Grand Marnier soufflé: if you slide a spoon through it gently, you can savor it but if you stab it with a knife, it dies. I could go on and on.

I believe life is like anything you want it to be, and have pretty much been able to fill in the “life is like a ____” in short order. I love a challenge, so send me your idea of what life is like (a birthday…car…frozen rib roast) whatever… and I’ll reply with your own personalized quote: .

Which reminds me, life is like an email address…

14 thoughts on “Life is like a box of trite and world-weary expressions

  1. Thanks, Sam! Anyone else going to take my challenge? (“… send me your idea of what life is like (a birthday…car…frozen rib roast) whatever… and I’ll reply with your own personalized quote”)

  2. I took the Danderoo Challenge. I gave her “Life is like a tire iron.” I got back: “It’s heavy and intimidating, but if you work with it, instead of against it, you can take care of yourself.” That’s some true wisdom, Dandy. I’m going to go tweet that now. And call the people who make those sayings inside fortune cookies. You could have a lucrative side career now.

  3. Yes, Julie! Life is like a cherry tree- you can’t get the sweet fruit without the pits!

  4. Thanks Jeff, and did you know life is like an analogy? Everyone’s life is different in the same way.

  5. In part, I agree, “A witty saying proves nothing.” (Voltaire) The context of the quote used and the authenticity of its user greatly influence my feelings here. As part of an earned body of knowledge that clarifies and advances the conversation, I’m a big fan. As a pull quote to cover lazy thinking or lack of perspective, not so much.

    Life is an analogy.

  6. Love it, CA. Life is like a bear… hard to handle if you tackle it all at once, but if you invite it to your cottage for porridge it’s all very bear-able. Couldn’t resist.