When a lesson can be summed up in a few well-chosen words, the message often stays with the student. A little tool to jog the memory, a clever saying to remind you what is truly important — that's why "Mackay's Moral" appears at the end of each of my columns. All of my books also have aphorisms to sum up chapters, as I find it a great way to teach.
I file away helpful sayings and use them to drive home the point when the occasion presents itself. I know this method is effective, because my readers often cite these witticisms in their letters and e-mails to me.
For today's column, I am pleased to offer up some of my favorite aphorisms not used in my columns or books.
• Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.
• Goals are like stars; they may not be reached, but they can always be guides.
• A mistake proves that someone at least tried.
• If we are facing the right direction, all we have to do is keep on walking.
• What you build easily will fall quickly.
• When life gives you 100 reasons to cry, show life that you have 1,000 to smile.
• A word and a stone once thrown away cannot be returned.
• It isn't hard to make a mountain out of a molehill; just add a little dirt.
• Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important.
• Friendship is like a bank account. You can't continue to draw on it without making deposits.
• A positive attitude is a magnet for positive results.
• The key to keeping your balance is knowing when you've lost it.
• Remember: It's not what you have, it's what you do with what you have that makes all the difference.
• Life is a continuous process of getting used to things we haven't expected.
•There's only one endeavor in which you can start at the top, and that's digging a hole.
• You have to take it as it happens, but you should try to make it happen the way you want to take it.
• Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
• The trouble with self-made people is that they worship their creator.
• If you always give, you will always have.
• You can't get ahead when you're trying to get even.
• The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.
• No matter how much dirt you throw at someone else, you'll always be dirtier.
• Judge other people's faults by their effect on the work, not by their effect on you.
• The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
• Too many people stop to think and forget to start again.
• If you're not sure where you're going, you'll probably end up somewhere else.
• Ten out of nine people don't realize they're weak in math.
• Try not to become a person of success, but rather a person of value.
• The grass isn't greener over there. It's greener where you water it.
• Hire for character; train for skill.
• You know you need a change when all you exercise is caution.
• The person who makes no mistakes usually doesn't make anything.
• Life is a bumpy road, and laughter is your best shock absorber.
• Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
• We could learn a lot from crayons: Some are sharp, some are pretty, some are dull, some have weird names and all are different colors ... but they all exist very nicely in the same box.
Mackay's Moral: In the end, we only regret the chances we didn't take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we waited too long to make.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.