Friday, March 16, 2012

Coin a Phrase

Building skylineCoin a Phrase

Yesterday was March 15th – a date infamously known as the Ides of March.  Most people don’t know any more about this date than that they just have to “beware the ides of March”.  So for those who are curious, here’s what it means:

The word Ides comes from the Latin word "Idus" and means "half division", especially in relation to a month. It is a word that was used widely in the Roman calendar indicating the approximate day that was the middle of the month. The term ides was used for the 15th day of the months of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th day of the other months.

And then the term Ides of March became best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was killed in 44 B.C. He was stabbed (245 times) to death in the Roman Senate by a group of conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus.  And from this William Shakespeare penned the “beware the ides of March” line in his play Julius Caesar.

There, now you know all about the background to this infamous date.  But it doesn’t seem nearly important enough that just about everyone knows and uses it.  And that leads me to my next point: there are lots of these folkloric phrases and sayings that have little or no meaning or importance to what we do and how we live today, and yet just about everyone knows them too.  How about these: a shot in the arm, the acid test, back seat driver, bad hair day, between a rock and a hard place,  brownie points, cold turkey, doom and gloom, double whammy, fancy pants, get your goat – you’ve heard and most likely used many of these and more, more than likely without knowing exactly what they mean. But every one of these has its own history, and meaning, and they’re all accepted phrases that have become cemented in our lexicon. And isn’t that just hunky-dory.

But at the end of the day, catchy phrases may help us sum up some point we’re trying to make, but they aren’t the things that clear communications, successful careers, strong relationships or high hopes are made of.  To make those kinds of things requires more intelligent thinking and planning, and more articulate communications, and real follow-up tied to measurable expectations.  Life is a whole lot harder than just being able to slip a pithy phrase into the things that need to get done.  And while it might be easier to just say these kinds of phrases, in order to be really successful at anything requires you put in the whole kit and caboodle; in other words it's best to just say what you mean, clearly and fully.

Maybe what I’m describing is a pipe dream, but I believe that this pie in the sky stuff needs to be brought back down to earth.  There really are no shortcuts to getting where you want to go or being what you want to be – it takes hard work, an open mind, and a willingness to go that extra mile if needed.  So before you fly off the handle at this message, cut to the chase and start saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

My message this week is about doing what it takes to get things done:

Arte Nathan“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.” -Nancy Willard

Nancy Willard (born June 26, 1936) is an award-winning children's author, poet, and novelist. In 1982, she received the Newbery Medal for A Visit to William Blake's Inn.

What questions do you have today?  Most people have far more questions than they do answers.  Sure, sometimes you have answers for questions from your friends, colleagues, family and acquaintances – because they mostly ask you things you know about.  But what we really need to come up with are questions about all the things we don’t know about – and there’s certainly no shortage of those.  It’s the smart ones among us who admit what they don’t know, and who are then curious and confident enough to then ask about them.  The internet makes this kind of thing easy, but how often do you stop and ask someone something?  Doing so doesn’t mean you’re ignorant; in fact most of the time that impresses others because it shows your interest to learn from them.  Life is all about learning and in this world there’s so much we don’t know that you’ll probably never run out of questions once you start.  The most successful people we know are those who fearlessly inquire about things because they understand that sometimes questions are more important than answers. So jump on the bandwagon and start asking good questions today!

Stay well.

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