Funny Business: Advice Everyone Should Take Seriously

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When seeking to inspire or motivate, everyone from Presidents and anthropologists to singers and cartoon insects has turned to humor. (Especially cartoon insects.) Humor has always been one of the most effective ways of capturing people’s attention and making them smile, all while conveying meaningful messages. Here are some prime examples.

  • “The first rule of leadership: everything is your fault.” – A Bug’s Life

It’s not an easy lesson to learn, but it’s true: when you’re the leader, you can’t blame anyone else if your employees fail. If your sales team doesn’t hit their goals, it’s not their fault, it’s yours: you’re responsible for motivating them. If your teams don’t work well together, it isn’t because they’ve done a bad job: you’ve done a bad job matching them up. Even if it doesn’t seem fair, you have to suck it up. Because that’s what leaders do.

  • “Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.” – Margaret Mead

No, you are not a special snowflake. You are not even one in a million. There are many people out there who are just as qualified as you are and who are more than willing to take your place. An oversized ego or an arrogant attitude is a surefire way to alienate those around you. Good leaders are smart… but they know they’re surrounded with others who are just as smart – and they’re grateful for them.

  • “You do not lead by hitting people over the head — that’s assault, not leadership.” – Dwight Eisenhower

A leader doesn’t simply order people around. Leadership doesn’t come from barking orders or mandating action. And it isn’t about simply pushing your own ideas. It’s about a conversation that demands respect and listening – from both sides. It’s not about defining what you as a leader want, but discovering what everyone wants and fighting for that. “Leadership” Eisenhower also said, “is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

  • “Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.” – Elbert HubbardBeach-Office-660x330

Many other people have said it many other ways, but what it all boils down to is this: you only get one life, and everyone knows how the story ends. Our time here is limited. Worry and stress will only shorten it. So when things seem dark, remember: they could always be worse! Your sense of humor is a reliable life jacket that will keep you afloat when times get rough.

  • “The worst part of success is to try to find someone who is happy for you.” – Bette Midler

It really is lonely at the top. After all, there are only so many corner offices. And sure, there are probably lots of people who envy you. But that doesn’t always mean they aren’t happy for you. Most of the people who envy you – at least the people who matter to you – respond to their envy with ambition. The ambition to succeed in the same way you have. And part of your enviable new job, as a true leader, is to help them achieve their goals in any way you can.


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