21 proverbs, sayings and what they all mean


Proverbs are simple sayings that express an essential truth based on common sense, experience or the wisdom of the ancients. Proverbs that describe a basic rule of conduct are particularly useful and well-worth remembering. So here are 21 very useful and thought-provoking proverbs, sayings and an indication of what they all mean. You will do well to remember all of these:-

1. Be contrary; be known

To be successful visibility matters. That means you must stand out in the crowd. And you can’t stand out in the crowd if you’re just like everyone else. You must be an original not a copy.

2. Man who chases two rabbits catches neither

Learn to keep the main thing the main thing. Focus matters if you want to be successful. Try to do too many things and you won’t do any of them very well. And if you fail to do anything well then you will not be successful.

3. Knowledge is power

Learning is a lifelong process and you should be educating yourself constantly. However there is a more important point here. When negotiating in business the more you know about the other side, their needs, the pressures their under, and what they’re willing to pay and/or concede, the more likely you are to get what you want. Never underestimate the power of information.

4. When in Rome do as the Romans do

If you want to be successful in business around the world then show some respect for other people and the way they do things. Culture is simply the way things are done around here. No one culture is better than another. They are just different that’s all. So just because something might appear odd relative to what is considered ‘normal’ in your culture doesn’t make it wrong. Embrace difference and enjoy every new cultural experience.

5. Fortune favours the brave

If you want to live life to the full then it starts outside your comfort zone. Go for the low hanging fruit and the easy tasks and you won’t grow. Fail to take any risks and you’re unlikely to experience any significant rewards either. You can only be successful if you go after what you really want and that means you must take a few risks along the way. Remember this; risk and reward go together.

6. Hope for the best; prepare for the worst

If you want to be successful then be prepared for the rain because occasionally it will rain. Hope for permanent sunshine by all means but make sure you’re ready for the days when the sun refuses to shine and you need an umbrella.

7. A picture’s worth a thousand words

To be successful being able to communicate effectively is an important skill to develop. That means you need to know how to get a message across and often the most powerful way to deliver a message and make a point is often with a picture.

8. There’s no such thing as a free lunch

Everything comes with a price tag. There will always be a cost somewhere even if it’s not immediately apparent. The cost may not be financial but there will be a cost. Make sure you know what it is and make sure you’re willing to pray the price before you agree to anything.

9. Actions speak louder than words

Talk is cheap. It’s not what you say; it’s what you do and what you deliver that will make a difference. And if you want to be successful then you will need to make a difference.

10. Practice makes perfect

Every master began as a complete beginner. Mastery is achieved by becoming a student of your craft and practising constantly until you are the best at what you do. And if you want to be successful then you will need to be amongst the best at what you do.

11. Easy come; easy go

You will only truly appreciate that which has cost you in blood, sweat and tears. Success obtained easily is difficult to sustain. Easy money is easily squandered. It’s almost like you feel you’re not entitled to it, if it all came too easy to you.

12. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

As they say in the north of England, ‘There’s brass in muck’. Meaning just because something appears to be no longer of use doesn’t mean it can’t be put to good use and can’t represent an excellent business opportunity. Old furniture can be restored. An old bicycle frame can be used in the making of some other item. Money can be made from the oddest things.

13. Familiarity breeds contempt

If your career is starting to gain traction and you’ve been promoted to management then remember this; there must always be a little bit of distance between you and the troops you manage. You cannot be too familiar with people you manage if you want their respect. Yes, take an interest in people. Yes, show them you care occasionally. However you can’t be their buddy. That doesn’t work.

14. Don’t judge a book by its cover

First impressions can be powerful and often they can be accurate too. However they’re not always accurate so it is dangerous to form an opinion based on your first impression alone.

15. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

When it comes to money and savings, diversity is the name of the game. As you become successful, a good income should follow. Make sure you start building some capital and make sure you spread it around a bit. Put all you financial eggs in one basket and calamity could follow.

16. The squeaky wheel gets the most oil

Don’t be afraid to complain when things aren’t right. If you want something resolved be prepared to make a noise. Wait patiently and you’re unlikely to find anyone keen to help you. They’re all too busy.

17. Honesty is the best policy

The problem with telling lies is that you need to have a very good memory and it’s very easy to get caught out. Tell the truth and you don’t need to remember anything. All you have to do is say exactly what happened or what you said, et cetera. Being honest makes life easier and it also makes life less stressful.

18. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink

There is only so much you can do for people. Offer to help them by all means but if they choose not to accept your offer then just leave it there. You can’t force someone to do something nor can you force them to accept your help or advice.

19. Keep friends close and enemies closer

There’s no point in fighting with your enemy. That won’t get you very far. It’s better to adopt cordial relations to keep them close. Keep them close and you can keep an eye on them. That way you’ll know what they’re up to and know what they’re planning too. Use your head not your heart in these matters.

20. Two heads are better than one

It is a fact that when people get their heads together the results are usually much better than one person’s thinking alone. Particularly with creative work, ideas bounce off each other and as those ideas come together the results can be exceptional.

21. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Treat other people in the way you’d prefer them to treat you. Show them respect and you’re much more likely to get their respect. Don’t be mean with people. You wouldn’t like it and neither will they. People will respond warmly to you if you are warm and kind to them.

Other Articles:

What is the key to success?

Visibility: Does it matter?

Life is short and it’s later than you think

Powerful words change lives

11 tips for improving quality of life

© Roy J Sutton and Mann Island Media Limited 2017. All Rights Reserved.


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