Sometimes the best business tips come from unexpected sources. Like “Alice in Wonderland.”
To me, Alice takes the cake. Lewis Carroll wrote it in 1865. Adored by children – and adults – it’s themes are as valid today as they were back then. And, beyond its seemingly nonsensical story, it provides some pretty down to earth tips for those of us in small business. It speaks to creativity, time management, productivity, value, trust, belief, vision, perfectionism and a host of other topics critical to the success in today’s world.
In fact, it’s a veritable treasure trove of practical advice delivered by some of the most unlikely – and many times unsavory characters. Some actually remind us of people we know. Maybe we even see pieces of ourselves in them. Who hasn’t run into a tyrannical control freak (‘Off with their heads) or a time-obsessed White Rabbit?
For me, Lewis Carroll said it best when he wrote, “Well, now that we have seen each other…if you’ll believe in me, I’ll believe in you.” That really cuts to the heart of what small business is all about.
So today, I thought I’d take us back to Wonderland and share 25 quotes from the book. I hope it helps you all, keep your respective heads.
- “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.” The past helped make us who we are today. We don’t live there, but what we learned got us to today. Tomorrow will be different, because we’ll be different. What will you carry forward from today?
- “Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” Nothing is a straight path but if you have a sound starting point and know where you need to go, regardless of the obstacles, you’ll get there.
- “She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).” We’re all guilty of this one. It’s one thing to be able to give good advice, but it’s also very difficult to apply it to ourselves. Listen to yourself more often. To be believed you need to live your words., not just speak them.
- “Curiouser and curiouser!” Never lose your curiosity. Never stop learning. Never stop reading. Never stop asking ‘why’, ‘how’, and especially ‘what if..’
- “I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.” Yes, we all wear several hats in the course of a day. But while we try to be all things to all people, don’t neglect yourself. Having a lot of hats is one thing, but feeding the head inside them is another.
- “Why it’s simply impassible! (Alice): Why, don’t you mean impossible. (Doormouse): No, I do mean impassible. (chuckles) Nothing’s impossible!” Audrey Hepburn agreed, when she said, ‘The very word says I’m-possible.’
- “I’m not strange, weird, off, nor crazy. My reality is just different from yours.” No matter how similar you think you are to your competition, you’re not. You’re different from him and he’s different from you. it’s what make us unique. Find you’re differentiator – and use it.
- “My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.” Nothing stays the same. Everything evolves. Everything changes. To merely keep up, is simply to maintain the status quo. That means, you’re lagging behind.
- “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.” The trick is to stop multi-tasking and start single-tasking. You can accomplish more, feel more productive and fuel motivation.
- “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there.” Always have a plan. Without a roadmap you never know where you’ll end up.
- “It’s a poor sort of memory that only works backwards,’ says the White Queen to Alice.” Then was then and now is now. Don’t dwell in the past. Instead, take what we learned into today. Each experience changes us and helps us grow.
- “(The Mad Hatter:) “Would you like some wine?” (Alice): “Yes…” (The Mad Hatter): “We haven’t any and you’re too young.”Never promise what you can’t (or won’t) deliver.’ Keep your word.
- “In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.” Never take risks blindly. Consider the implications before taking that step.
- “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.” No one goes it alone. Not even you.
- “And how many hours a day did you do lessons?’ said Alice, in a hurry to change the subject. Ten hours the first day,’ said the Mock Turtle: ‘nine the next, and so on.’ What a curious plan!’ exclaimed Alice. That’s the reason they’re called lessons,’ the Gryphon remarked: ‘because they lessen from day to day.” Practice makes perfect. It will get easier. You’ll be able to accomplish more in less time.
- “If you limit your actions in life to things that nobody can possibly find fault with, you will not do much!” Don’t strive for perfection. It doesn’t exist; and don’t be afraid to be wrong. The very process of ‘doing,’ is the difference between success and failure.
- “It is a very inconvenient habit of kittens (Alice had once made the remark) that whatever you say to them, they always purr.” Don’t look for blind acceptance. Surround yourself with people whose ideas and experiences are different from your own. You’ll learn something.
- “Come back!” the Caterpillar called after her. “I’ve something important to say.” This sounded promising, certainly. Alice turned and came back again. “Keep your temper,” said the Caterpillar.” An ill-temper never accomplished anything – or as a wise man once told me, ‘Keep it to yourself. No one else wants it.’
- “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” We’ve all dreamt of things we’d like to do, ideas we’d like to put into play, but let them go because we didn’t think they were realistic. Instead, why not ask what it would take to make it happen?
- “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” Sometimes it takes a little longer to find, but it’s still there.
- “All that matters is what we do for each other.” Never underestimate the power of giving and sharing. It’s the very secret of success. It’s not measured by dollars and cents, but in the satisfaction of knowing we added value to someone else’s life. A smile can make someone’s day. Even yours.
- “I don’t see how he can ever finish, if he doesn’t begin.” Procrastination has no place on the road to success. What are you waiting for?
- “What does it matter where my body happens to be?’ he said. ‘My mind goes on working all the same.” When you find your negative self talk is getting in your way, I encourage you to shift your mindset and focus on the positive. If you have problems dealing with your inner demons, pick up books like ‘What to Say When You Talk to Yourself’, or ‘Taming Your Gremlin’. Both are easy reads and provide some good, practical advice.
- “You know what the issue is with this world? Everyone wants some magical solution to their problem and everyone refuses to believe in magic.” Believe in yourself and you’ll believe the magic you can perform.
- 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.” Just do it. What have you got to lose?