Axioms, Part 1: Life Axioms

A few weeks ago I saw a question and answer session with one of my long-time mentors: Erwin McManus.  Someone asked him, “what books are you reading these days?” His answer surprised me: “When I turned 50, I cut back quite a bit on my reading.  I came to a point of realizing that I am at a season in my life where I need to stop collecting more information and rather spend the time sharing what I have learned.”

I thought that was a beautiful way to see life.  So, in the spirit of Erwin, in this season of my life I am going to shift the “reading time” of my life to more “writing time.”  I offer to you, my first attempt at “stop collecting and start sharing.”

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been jotting down axioms (short proverbs) that I have either heard from others that have resonated with my experience or have learned the hard way.  I’ve kept a collection of them on a file on my laptop.  The list has grown to more than 200 entries.  So, I broke them down in to three parts: Life, Faith, and Leadership. 

For your consideration, here is the first part -- everything I know about life:

  1. People who feel the need to tell you that they have an excellent sense of humor are telling you that they have no sense of humor. (Dave Berry)
  2. You should never say anything to a woman that even remotely suggests you think she's pregnant unless you can see an actual baby emerging from her at that moment.
  3. If they don’t quickly offer up the information -- you should never ask a person what kind of surgery they are having unless you are prepared to hear about very personal matters.
  4. One of the most important life skills to develop is how to ask the right questions.
  5. Survival is sometimes underrated. 
  6. People are never as strong as you think they are or as weak as you think they are.
  7. No one is eager to be managed.  The entire world is hungry to be led. 
  8. Each week one must choose between the pain of discipline or the pain of failure.  (Steve Mariucci)
  9. One of the most powerful forces in the universe is gossip.
  10. Everybody is normal until you get to know them. (John Ortberg)
  11. Truth, like love and sleep, resents approaches which are too direct.
  12. A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.
  13. I have never regretted being kind to another person. 
  14. No matter what happens, somebody will find a way to take it too seriously.
  15. Good decision making requires courage as much as it does judgment.  There is no inherent reason why medicines should taste horrible – but effective ones usually do.  The same is true with effective decisions. 
  16. Beware of the sincerity myth that teaches that you will be able to avoid all criticism if only you are sincere. 
  17. Everything worth accomplishing in life is hard.  It is not the difficulty or ease of it that makes a job worth doing. 
  18. When trouble arises and things look bad, there is always one individual who perceives a solution and is willing to take command. Very often, that individual is crazy. (Dave Berry) 
  19. “People whisper sweet nothings to their lover; but they yell 'fire.'…Fear, it turns out, is often louder than love. Sometimes fear is good, and yelling even better, especially when there actually is a fire. But other times fear is toxic, destructive, the opposite of love.” (Rob Bell)
  20. “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” (Pablo Picasso)
  21. “Satire works best when it's directed toward the powerful, humor when it's directed toward yourself” (Rachel Held Evans)
  22. Being creative is like being an archeologist. You get up every morning and dig around in the dirt
  23. The person who needs the most love will usually ask for it in the most unloving ways.
  24. Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it into a fruit salad.
  25. Some people who are crazy are easy to recognize.  It is the crazy people that are not easy to recognize that can destroy you. 
  26. “The ship is safest when it is in port. But that’s not what ships were made for.” (Paulo Coelho)
  27. “One of the most important aspects of character in life, without question, is the ability to confront.” (Henry Cloud)
  28. “Only someone who finds the courage to be different from others can ultimately exist for ‘others’”. (Jurgen Moltmann)
  29. “Behind every beautiful thing, there's some kind of pain.” (Bob Dylan)
  30. Perceptions, whether they are accurate or not, take on their own reality and when acted upon over time become self-fulfilling prophesies.
  31. You find what you look for. If you look for flaws, you will find them; if you look for a persons best, you find it.” (Dan Reiland)
  32. “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me … You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” (Walt Disney)
  33. Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance. (Dave Berry)
  34. “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us just get up and go to work.” (Stephen King)
Dana Hicks