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Spring clean

I'm in the process of moving, and I've decided to give to friends various books that I've enjoyed, but no longer wish to keep.

When reading books that I've purchased I highlight sections for quick future reference, and any books in my library without highlights usually means I didn't find anything of particular interest in the book. So before handing on a few, I've decided those that did grab my interest, to transcribe the highlighted sections, and rather than put in some quote file (which I'll soon forget), I've decided to post here.

Most quotes will be about the subject of business leadership, creativity, intuition and similar.

Hope you enjoy or gain value.

Anita Roddick, Body and Soul, Random Century Group, London, 1991 (Hardcover):

I think all business practices would improve immeasurably if they were guided by 'feminine' principles – qualities like love and care and intuition. (p.17)

In the fifteen years I have been involved in the world of business it has taught me nothing. There is so much ignorance in top management and boards of directors: all the big companies seem to be led by accountants and lawyers and become moribund carbon-copy versions of each other. If there is excitement and adventure in their lives, it is contained in the figures on the profit and loss sheet. What an indictment! (p.19)

A great advantage I had when I started The Body Shop was that I had never been to business school ... As far as I was concerned there were no rules, and so I just went my own merry way working from gut instincts. I honestly believe I would not have succeeded if I had been taught about business. I would, for example, have learned to kow-tow to people who are usually irrelevant to enterprise thinking, like bank managers. I found that a bank manager is the last person to ask for business advice because he is only a housekeeper of money ... he rarely gets to grips with an idea and how to promote and manage it. (p. 21)

To run this business ... skill is not the answer, neither is money. What you need is optimism, humanism, enthusiasm, intuition, curiosity, love, humour, magic and fun and that secret ingredient – euphoria. None of this appears on the curriculum of any business school. (p. 21)

One thing I have learned is that you have to be true to yourself. At The Body Shop we've done it our way...I don't claim to know what I'm doing all the time – even half the time. Beware of those who do. (p.27)

I wanted – needed – to be different. It was all to do with my private concept of immortality. To me, anonymity was a kind of death. (p.40)

People tend not to trust their gut instincts enough, especially about those things that irritate them ... Irritation is a great source of energy and creativity. It leads to dissatisfaction and prompts people like me to ask questions. (p. 68)

To succeed you have to believe in something with such a passion that it becomes a reality. (p. 86)

A true key to success is knowing what features set you apart from the competition. (p. 101)

We learned from ...experience, and we learned very quickly that simple, emotive imagery was the key to getting a message across. (p. 113)

I believe that service – whether it is serving the community or your family or the people you love or whatever – is fundamental to what life is about (p. 117)

If you have a company with itsy-bitsy vision, you have an itsy-bitsy company. (p. 223)

Make no mistake about it – I'm doing this for me (p. 254)

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Happiness, Random House, London, 1992

We cannot reach happiness by consciously searching for it... It is by being fully involved with every detail of our lives, whether good or bad, that we find happiness, not by trying to look for it directly ... My studies of the past quarter-century have convinced me that ... it (happiness) is a circuitous path that begins with achieving control over the contents of our consciousness. (p. 2)


... we have all experienced times when, instead of being buffered by anonymous forces, we do feel in control of our actions, masters of our own fate.  On the rare occasions that it happens, we feel a sense of exhilaration, a deep sense of enjoyment that is long cherished and that become a landmark in memory for what life should be like. This is what we mean by optimal experience. (p. 3)

The best moments usually occur when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. Optimal experience is thus something we make happen ... Such experiences are not necessarily pleasant at the time they occur. (p. 3)

But in the long run optimal experiences add up to a sense of mastery – or perhaps better, a sense of participation in determining the content of life – that comes as close to what is usually meant by happiness as anything else we can conceivably imagine. (p. 4)

[This last quote (above) reminds me of Sir Michael Marmot's research which reveals that the lack of control is the primary factor in disease and premature death, across all sectors of business and society. See "Factors in employee health."]

These periods of struggling to overcome challenges are what people find to be the most enjoyable times of their lives. (p. 6)

Though the evidence suggests that most people are caught up on (a) frustrating treadmill of rising expectations, many individuals have found ways to escape it. These are people who, regardless of their material conditions, have been able to improve the quality of their lives, who are satisfied ... Perhaps their greatest strength is that they are in control of their lives. (p. 10)

Genuinely happy individuals are few and far between. How many people do you know who enjoy what they are doing, who are reasonably satisfied with their lot, who do not regret the past and look forward to the future with genuine confidence? (p. 11)

This simple truth – that control of consciousness determines the quality of life – has been known for a long time; in fact, for as long as human records exist. (p. 20)

Control over consciousness cannot be institutionalized. As soon as it becomes part of a set of social rules and norms, it cease to be effective in the way it was originally intended to be. (p.21)

Following a flow experience, the organization of the self is more complex than it had been before. It is by becoming increasingly complex that the self might be said to grow. Complexity is the result of two broad psychological processes: differentiation and integration. Differentiation implies a movement towards uniqueness, towards separating oneself from others. Integration refers to its opposite: a union with other people, with ideas and entities beyond the self. A complex self is one that succeeds in combining these opposite tendencies. (p. 41)

Only when a person invests equal amounts of psychic energy in these two processes and avoids both selfishness and conformity is the self likely to reflect complexity. (p. 42)

Paradoxically, it is when we act freely, for the sake of the action itself rather than for ulterior motives, that we learn to become more than what we were. When we choose a goal and invest ourselves in it to the limits of our concentration, whatever we do will be enjoyable. (p. 42)

Optimal experience, and the psychological conditions that make it possible, seem to be the same the world over. As our studies have suggested, the phenomenology of enjoyment has eight major components. (p. 49)

First, the experience usually occurs when we confront tasks we have a chance of completing. Second, we must be able to concentrate on what we are doing. Third and fourth, the concentration is usually possible because the task undertaken has clear goals and provides immediate feedback. Fifth, one acts with a deep but effortless involvement that removes from awareness the worries and frustrations of everyday life. Sixth, enjoyable experiences allow people to exercise a sense of control over their actions. Seventh, concern for the self disappears, yet paradoxically the sense of self emerges stronger after the flow experience is over. Finally, the sense of the duration of time is altered; hours pass by in minutes, and minutes can stretch out to seem like hours. (p.49)

[The seventh element is essentially the core of the Table of One and All, of the paradoxical experience of diversity within unity; of individuality within community; of One within All]

... by far the overwhelming proportion of optimal experiences are reported to occur within sequences of activities that are goal-directed and bounded by rules – activities that require the investment of psychic energy, and that could not be done without the appropriate skills. (p. 49)

One simple way to find challenges is to enter a competitive situation. Hence the great appeal of all games and sports that pit a person or team against another. In many ways, competition is a quick way of developing complexity. (p.50)

Competition is enjoyable only when it is a means to perfect one's skills; when it becomes an end in itself, it ceases to be fun. (p. 50)

This next section ties in with Marmot's work, regarding levels of control in the work environment, and the happiness (flow) that follows:

...managers and supervisors were significantly more often in flow at work (64 percent) than were clerical workers (51 percent) and blue-collar workers (47 percent). Blue-collar workers reported more flow in leisure (20 percent) than clerical workers (16 percent) and managers (15 percent) did. But even workers on the assembly line reported they were in flow more than twice as often at work as in leisure (47 percent versus 20 percent). (p. 159)

Thus we have the paradoxical situation: On the job people feel skilful and challenged, and therefore feel more happy, strong, creative, and satisfied. In their free time people feel that there is generally not much to do and their skills are not being used, and therefore tend to feel more sad, weak, dull, and dissatisfied. Yet they would like to work less and spend more time in leisure. (p. 159)

Jane Roberts, Psychic Politics: An Aspect Psychology Book, Prentice Hall Press, New York, 1976.

"Often when you set up bridges, you must help others rip down the old ones. That is what we are doing. Each of you is doing the same thing in your own way. Each of you, in your own life, looked upon the systems and found them wanting. The individual is stronger than any system, and the individual must always come first. Therefore, we will not set up another system that exists apart from the individual. Instead we will show the individual his and her proper place as the initiator or reality.

Your vitality comes first. You form systems. That is fine, but the systems must not be allowed to rule you." (Seth, p. 179)


"...with a sense of humor, hate is all too funny and therefore it loses it power. Love, on the other hand, even with a sense of humor, becomes highly precious and large enough so that it can contain old hates very nicely ... There are old hated comrades .. whom I love dearly. We share a fine hatred. We loved each other because of that hatred that united us. We were in contact with each other beautifully, and we related. So examine what you mean by the word "hate" and see how related to love it can be." (Seth, p. 180)

"You stand on the chasm of yourselves and the pinnacles of yourselves. You are death and you are life. And I am death and I am life. I am a butterfly in a world that is not yet born in your terms, and yet I am myself in this room ...

The earth speaks through the grasses, and the grasses flourish, and the birds come, and the snow flies: that is death and that is life." (Seth, p. 181)

"... you are alive and dead at once, and there is no difference. You are, again, as alive or dead now as you will ever be." (Seth, p. 183)


"I have told you to trust your spontaneous self ... and some of you have become daring enough to look at your reality; daring enough to consider the possibility that you might, after all, be naturally good; scandalous enough to accept the possibility that your being might possibly be blessed; audacious enough to consider the possibility that if you let yourselves be, you will be creative, exuberant, and free." (Seth, p. 185)

"and you think, behind your thoughts ... 'but what will really happen if I am my spontaneous self? What evils might I perpetuate or bring into existence? I might ... speak to others honestly. I might make a blessed fool of myself by showing affection. I might open up my human vulnerability; for if I remain cool, then no one knows who I am but me, and no one can hurt me.'

... in the backs of your minds you are beginning to consider the possibility of spontaneity, but if frightens you. You think: 'This energy and this power can be wrongfully used, and if I am an evil creature, how dare I taste my energy?  Better to hold it back.'

... now I am telling you to be reckless with your energy, and reckless with your being, and you immediately think, 'What does reckless mean? It means being out of control. Dear Lord, what could happen if I were reckless with my being?'

The gods are reckless or you would not have a world. The flowers are reckless or you would not have a spring or an autumn. I am reckless or I would even consider speaking under these circumstances." (Seth, p. 186)


Continued excerpts of books that I'm giving away...

Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner, Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, Oxford University Press, New York, 2006

"In the beginning there were only probabilities. The universe could only come into existence if someone observed it. It does not matter that the observers turned up several billion years later. The universe exists because we are aware of it." 

Professor Martin Rees
Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics
Master of Trinity College
University of Cambridge


Quantum theory works perfectly; no prediction of the theory has ever been shown in error. It is the theory basic to all physics, and thus to all science. One third of our economy depends on products developed with it. For all practical purposes, we can be completely satisfied with it. (p.  201)

Dr Brian Roet, All in the mind: Thinking yourself better, Macdonald & Co., London, 1987

If we can really understand the problem the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate to the problem." Krishnamurti (p. 19)

One of the difficulties about changing a situation is the inertia caused by being in that predicament for some time. It requires energy to make a decision and do something different; it is much easier to continue along the same old path, however many potholes are present; is is easier to hope that things will get better than to do something to ensure that they do.
To alter a problem you need to be:
  • irritated by the suffering;
  • eager for change and believe change is possible;
  • prepared to accept responsibility for change and have an open attitude towards alternatives;
  • confident to try something new and committed to doing so;
  • aware of what to do and how to do it.

(p. 21)

Viewing difficulties as opportunities to learn provides a completely new slant on the situation. This attitude, however, requires a suitable level of maturity; telling a screaming child who has just tumbled off a bike that this is part of the process of learning to ride is unlikely to achieve the desired response. Many people are not sufficiently adult in their emotions to accept their suffering as an opportunity to learn about themselves. (p. 21)

If, instead of trying to solve a problem and remove it, we ask ourselves 'what does it mean, what message is involved, what can I learn from it?', we will follow a completely different pathway, often with pleasantly surprising results. (p. 21-22)

"As long as humans feel threatened and helpless, they will seek the sanctuary that illness provides." Dr T. Rynearson, Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. (p. 32)

Sometimes the internal self-talk 'escapes' and produces slips of the tongue. These so-called Freudian slips give useful insights into the workings of the mind and are often interesting and humorous. (p. 48)

  • Doctor: 'Are you well in yourself?' Grossly overweight patient: 'Yes thankyou doctor, by and large.'
  • A man with a foot deformity who suffered from stress and anxiety complained that he 'couldn't take things in his stride as he should be able to.'
  • Many overweight patients comment that the reason they eat is because they are fed up.
  • A man who had narrowing of his oesophagus (gullet) requiring stretching under an anaesthetic on a regular basis, complained he constantly argued with his wife and she 'always rammed her opinions down my throat.'
  • An alcoholic when asked about his problem with emotions replied, 'They are all bottled up!'

The above examples illustrate the saying, 'The most important words you will ever hear are those that you tell yourself.(p. 49)

Lee Iacocca, Iacocca, an autobiography, Bantam Books, New York, 1985

A good business leader can't operate that way (waiting to gather all the facts). Obviously, you're responsible for gathering as many relevant facts and projections you possibly can. But at some point you've got to take that leap of faith. (p. 54)


... there's a new breed of businessmen, mostly people with M.B.A's, who are wary of intuitive decisions. In part, they're right. Normally, intuition is not a good enough basis for making a move. But many of these guys go to the opposite extreme. They seem to think taht every business problem can be structured and reduced to a case study. (p. 55)

... a certain amount of risk-taking is essential. I realize it's not for everybody(p. 55)

Despite what the textbooks say, most important decisions in corporate life are made by individuals, not by committees. My policy has always been to be democratic all the way to the point of decision. Then I become the ruthless commander. "Okay, I've heard everybody," I say, "Now here's what we're going to do." (p. 55-56)

You always need committees, because that's where people share their knowledge and intentions. But when committees replace individuals ... then productivity begins to decline. (p. 56)

You may know your subject, but you have to keep in mind that your audience is coming in cold. So start by telling them what you're going to tell them. Then tell them. Finally, tell them what you've already told them. I've never deviated from that axiom ... you should (also) always get your audience to do something before you finish... In other words, don't leave without asking for the order. (p. 57)

There's a world of difference between a strong ego, which is essential, and a large ego – which can be destructive. The guy with a strong ego knows his own strengths. He's confident. He has a realistic idea of what he can accomplish, and he moves purposefully toward his goal. But the guy with a large ego is always looking for recognition. He constantly needs to be patted on the back. He thinks he's a cut above everybody else. And he talks down to the people who work with him. (p. 62)

The best way to develop ideas is through interacting with your fellow managers... The chemistry among two or three people sitting down together can be incredible – and it's been a big part of my own success. (p.63)

The key to success is not information. It's people. And the kind of people I look for to fill top management spots are the eager beavers. These are the guys who try to do more than they're expected to. They're always reaching. And reaching out to the people they work with, trying to help them do their jobs better. (p. 63)