Aphorist's Corner Weekly

by Igor D. Radovic


Aphorisms, like epigrams, apothegms, maxims, axioms, proverbs, sayings, adages, bon mots and many other familiar quotations are examples of meaning and clarity enhanced by brevity. But, sadly, concise and to the point are waging a losing battle in our modern age of verbal overkill and ubiquitous, round-the-clock media babble. All the same, aphorisms and related forms, on a par with poetry, are without peer in their capacity to cut, in a sentence or two, and sometimes in most unexpected ways, to the heart of a subject that learned volumes often leave only more confusing and obscure. Eclectic, long on substance, experience and common sense, and short on empty verbiage, they are also thought provoking, easily remembered, and within the reach of any audience. Yet, for all that, aphorisms remain a comparatively and undeservedly neglected literary genre. Aphorist's Corner Weekly pays a modest tribute to it by reminding us that whatever is worth saying can usually be said better, and to better effect, with fewer rather than with more words.

As its name indicates, Aphorist's Corner Weekly (http://home.earthlink.net/~iradovic/aphorist.htm) is regularly updated. New text - this author's own attempts at aphorisms and brief personal comments on a broad variety of topics of general interest - is added every week as old text is simultaneously removed, for a rolling total of ten weeks. The views expressed in these observations are largely a matter of opinion and, admittedly, occasionally resort to overstatements and understatements to make a point, and they may sometimes err on the side of both the obvious and the ambiguous. But, more importantly, they also reflect, to the extent possible, a deliberate and sustained effort to avoid preconceived ideas and generalizations, so that they may lead to conclusions rather than be preceded and influenced by them, even if at some risk of ignoring experience, of too easily giving in to first and superficial impressions, and of courting contradictions. Whether this risk was worth taking the readers will judge by themselves.


Observations, copyright ©1968, by Igor D. Radovic

The Radovic Rule, or How to Manage the Boss, copyright © 1973, by Igor Radovic

The Aphorist's Corner, copyright ©1997, by Igor D. Radovic

Autumn Leaves, copyright © 2000, by Igor D. Radovic

Thoughts & Afterthoughts, copyright © 2003, by Igor D. Radovic

Random Remarks, copyright © 2004, by Igor D. Radovic

Fragments & Shards, copyright © 2006 by Igor D. Radovic

Notes From a Long Journey Home, copyright © 2011 by Igor D. Radovic

Reflections at Sunset, copyright © 2011 by Igor D. Radovic

Dyspeptic Definitions,
copyright © 2011 by Igor D. Radovic (Amazon paperback and ebook)

Week 768 - SUCCESS - cont.d


Not to be discouraged or intimidated by failure is the principal ingredient of success.

On balance, success is more often accepted and acknowledged than it is applauded.

When applause is the only payoff it is a high price to pay for success.

Rare is a successful life that has been free of drudgery, routine, and the trivial.

Unless success is shared, its enthusiasm is seldom contagious.

Though on occasion granted by luck overnight, success generally must be earned one day at a time.

When objectives achieved are examined in the light of means used, there is much less success than may at first appear.

Success can be glamorous; succeeding seldom is.

There is a price to be paid for both success and failure.

Success forgets more than failure does.

Sometimes we are doing better than others; sometimes others are doing worse. And both are found to be sufficient reasons to claim success or victory.

Success opens many doors, but closes some as well.

Some things are achieved by daring, but many more by trying and persevering.

He makes a poor bargain who makes recognition the goal and achievement the means.

What is achieved is important, but how it is achieved is sometimes more so.

Depending on their abilities, the same achievement will make over-achievers of some, and under-achievers of others.

However remarkable, records that are broken are soon forgotten.

It takes effort, time, and talent to make the team, but it also takes something more ill-defined, like personality, and even a little magic if you will, to be the star.

A trophy on the wall may not impress a guest, but always impresses the host.

The glory is in discovery and invention, but the profit is in marketing them.

One should not expect consideration and loyalty from those in blind pursuit of glory and fame.

For many, glory is in being center-stage, not in achievement.

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Week 769 - FAILURE

No successes are permanent, but failures often are.

Though unsuspected, not a few successes are failures in disguise, but failures are mostly what they appear to be.

Failure makes accomplices out of many collaborators.

There is nothing to be gained by admitting failure when it means accepting defeat.

Some failures one learns from; some are best forgotten.

One is more readily condemned by one’s flaws and failures than judged by one’s qualities and successes.

Compared, success is short, and failure is long.

Success has better memories, but failure has a better memory.

Success has many relatives, but failure makes orphans.

We can only be what we are, but we fail to be much of what we could be.

An occasional failure gives success a better perspective.

Success seeks attention and recognition; failure often attracts them.

It is one thing to have tried and failed, and quite another to have failed without trying.

Failure means fewer choices and possibilities; success means the opposite.

Success throws light on the road ahead; failure is a shadow that follows.

The best thing one can learn from failure is not to be discouraged by it.

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Week 770 - EDUCATION

Many more people are schooled than educated.

An informed man knows the price of things; an educated man, their value.

Education will change behavior, but so do, even more and more often, changed circumstances.

For most people, the lure of education is in better opportunities, not in better understanding.

Education makes people more civilized, not more likeable.

Education shapes attitudes, but laws control behavior.

Education makes it easier for people to understand, but sometimes more difficult to convince.

Too many of our values are acquired through indoctrination, and not enough through reflection.

Teaching, meant to open minds wider, on occasion closes them. The first is education, the second indoctrination.

Teaching the ignorant is rewarding. Teaching the uncomprehending is exhausting.

To convince rather than to threaten and enforce sounds always better in theory, but is not always feasible in practice.

It is those who teach that usually, but not always learn most.

In the short run, it is more efficient to tell people what to do. In the long run, to convince them saves both time and effort.

Most difficult to convince are not the skeptics, but those who must be convinced time and again to remain convinced.

Much brainwashing is done by those who are not brainwashed themselves, i.e., who do not believe in what they preach.

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Week 771 - ADVICE

We often know the solution, and seek advice only to avoid it.

Even the best advice is no better than its implementation.

Experience adds weight to advice, but it does not make it infallible.

Advice is often needed, but the need for it often becomes evident only when it is too late to ask for it.

How good the advice is depends not only on who gives it but, no less if not more, on who receives it as well.

However well intentioned, uninformed advice is irresponsible.

Inability to solve their own problems seldom prevents people from lavishing advice on others.

It is those who need advice most that are most likely to resent it and reject it.

“What you don’t know can’t hurt you” is bad advice for an ostrich, but not always for people.

However well intentioned, a recommendation that is ill advised turns many a friend into a foe.

Most of us are capable of giving ourselves better advice than we suspect.

Making an adviser into a partner often corrupts his advice.

It is frequently both safer and wiser to provide information than to give advice.

Advice is useless where there is no ability and opportunity to follow it.

Some advice is given more to show off than to help, but is sometimes good advice nonetheless.

Much of the advice people seek and pay for they could have given to themselves.

Would that advice was always followed according to how good it is.

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Curiosity may lead to a conclusion, but does not guarantee it is the right one.

For curiosity, answers are food for more questions.

Curiosity on the loose may have no destination, but can provide a wonderful vacation.

Some are curious to learn, some are just curious.

Indiscriminate, curiosity reaps superficiality.

A student of human nature need never be short of subjects to observe: He himself is always available when no one else is.

There will be questions as long as there are no desired answers.

Observing often yields more understanding than participating does.

To be observant means to be reaching more conclusions, both right and wrong.

The more emotions, the less accurate the observations.

The lessons most difficult to learn are not the ones that are most complicated, but the ones we find most difficult to accept.

The lesson may be the same, but what different pupils learn from it can be quite different.

The fewer lessons are learned from the experience of others, the more lessons must be learned from one’s own.

The employer hires the employee’s experience and training, but has yet to find out what he has learned from them.

Some learn, some can’t, and some refuse to learn.

The more one learns, the more there is to learn.

Many actions are preceded by learning and understanding, but not a few precede them.

To learn and to understand is often rewarded, but is on occasion punished as well.

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One can always learn from others, if not because they know more than because they know something different.

An objective for some, learning is an escape for some as well.

Learning is not only about more possibilities, but also about impossibilities.

We know much more about the past and experience than we learn from them.

To be informed is still short of having learned

Some learn. Some must be taught. And some are not capable of either.

Learning is a necessity for the young, and often a hobby or a nuisance for the old.

People learn but, for the most part, they remain what they are.

Postponed, many things can never be learned.

The wise learn from experience; the foolish, on occasion, from mistakes.

The more something must be repeated, the less likely it is to be heard.

Probing deeper is often possible only by probing wider.

Learning means going through doors already open; research is opening doors oneself, or trying to.

Research is suspect when it begins as conclusions in search of supporting evidence rather than with facts leading to conclusions.

There is much guessing in research, for ignorance has no other choice.

Research explains; it does not create.

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Those who can are more envied by those who understand than the other way around.

To understand, one must be both willing and capable of it.

To achieve, we often depend on others; to understand, we are largely on our own.

Nothing helps one better understand an issue than being affected by it.

To make an intelligent man change his mind can be difficult, but to make a fool understand is often impossible.

We all claim we want to be understood, and are on occasion fortunate when we are not.

The problem with understanding is often less in the explanation than in the comprehension.

It takes more than understanding to solve most problems.

Though we may not always be aware of it, many things we would rather not understand than understand.

Those who understand are as smart as we are, and often smarter. And those who do not are not necessarily dumb.

Participants get the experience, but the understanding often goes to the spectators.

Thinkers find satisfaction in understanding, but not necessarily more than consumers in consuming.

At the boundaries of human understanding there are only questions, and no answers.

Opinions can be disputed, but, with interpretation, so can be facts.

No statement is clear enough to be safe from interpretation.

The conflict is often less between right and wrong than between the interpretations of right and wrong

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Many more people are informed than understand.

Without understanding, to learn more is to be more confused.

But for ifs and buts, understanding and learning would be much easier.

To be understood and to be better off for it often do not coincide.

It is a close call, but it is better not to be understood than to be misunderstood.

What someone is and does is often best understood not by him, but by someone else.

Learning makes an educated person; understanding, a wise one.

Learning takes time; understanding even more so.

To put oneself into another man’s shoes is less a matter of ability than of willingness to do it.

It is often easier to overcome hostility and suspicion than incomprehension.

The best example of not seeing the forest for the trees is the individual and his own circumstances: he knows all the details, but is too close to them to see the whole and make sense of it.

The less people understand something, the more they are sometimes ready to accept it.

Misunderstanding is the reason for many disagreements, but so is understanding.

Usually associated with forgiveness, understanding is sometimes the reason for the absence of it.

Many more things are known than understood.

Understanding solves many problems, but creates not a few of them as well.

On occasion, a problem is solved by a tacitly agreed on misunderstanding.

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Week 776 - THOUGHT

     Reflection is a good habit, easily lost to keeping busy.

Both inspiration and implementation are likely to suffer without reflection between them.

Not grabbed by the horns and promptly wrestled to the ground, many an excellent idea turns tail and is gone never to return.

An idea is not necessarily assured the support of those who approve of it, but it can count on the support of those who stand to profit from it.

Thought should not be allowed to wander aimlessly, but neither should it be kept on a short leash.

The busier one is, the more food for thought, and the less opportunity for it.

Emotions are difficult to control, but not nearly as much as thought.

Thinking is what makes a thinker, not knowledge and intelligence.

With emotions not in check, thinking is also difficult to control.

For an original thinker, every day is a treasure hunt.

Ideas, like merchandise, sell best not where they are needed, but where there is a demand for them.

Some ideas deserve attention for what they are, some for how well they have been expressed, but to be memorable they must be both.

Quick thinking is for emergency skimming of the surface of an issue, not for probing its depth.

One must do things to be considered busy; reflection seldom qualifies.

Some thoughts are owed to feelings, and some feelings to thought.

There is no better way to be lost than to be lost in thought.

Those who believe that freedom of expression and freedom of thought are the same are soon disappointed.

Much too often thoughts follow words and actions instead of preceding them.

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To offer reason to the aggrieved often only adds insult to their pain.

Man’s reasoning is less likely to affect his inclinations than his inclinations his reasoning.

Much time is wasted trying to find a rational explanations for the behavior of irrational people.

Too much self-analysis often turns up more fantasy than fact.

A wrong diagnosis is bad enough, but a good one that comes too late is worse.

Instinct knows what reason has yet to deduce.

He who ignores the irrational dismisses the better part of what there is to know.

A pattern is not a method, but a method follows a pattern.

A method is soon drained of inspiration.

In large measure, the capacity for concentration is the power to resist distraction.

Some are easily distracted; some are just not able to concentrate, distracted or not.

The more concentration, the less peripheral vision.

Strange as this may be, some people are full of contradictions, and yet oblivious of and unaffected by it.

It is often more difficult to live with people full of contradictions than it is for them to live with themselves.

It is only in human logic that contradictions must be either mistakes or deceptions.

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Biographical Note

Igor Radovic was born in former Yugoslavia and received his early education in France and Yugoslavia. He spent World War II under Nazi occupation, followed by several years under the Titoist communist regime in Yugoslavia, where he studied Law and Civil Engineering. He escaped from behind the Iron Curtain in 1951, and worked in Western Europe and South Africa before coming to the United States and completing doctoral studies in Industrial Engineering and Management at Columbia University in New York City. In 1965 he joined the United Nations and served in a number of capacities relating in the main to economic development and cooperation and involving a variety of regions and assignments. During this period he also taught at Columbia a graduate course on problems of industrialization in less developed countries. He retired from the U.N. as Director of the Department for Special Political Questions, Regional Cooperation, Decolonization and Trusteeship. Dr. Radovic resides on the West Coast, and divides his time between the U.S., Canada and, occasionally, Australia. He is currently working on a new manuscript.