I like motivational quotes as much as the next person, but there are some quotes that get thrown around the business world that are just plain stupid. Here are my favorites.
1. "It's a proven fact that it's the sweetest sound to a person's ear is the sound of their own name."
This chunk of bad advice is probably responsible for more lost sales than any other human utterance. While people want you to remember their name, it sounds creepy and false-friendly when you repeat their name in a conversation or a document. BTW, substitute "their own voice" for "their own name" and the quote is quite true.
2. "Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all."
While this seems true at first glance, it's only because the "came from behind against all odds" miracles stick in the mind because they're unusual. In reality, most of the important things in this world are well planned and well executed, without generating any hopelessness whatsoever. Sometimes hopelessness is a sign that you're beating your head against a wall.
3. "People don't care how much we know until they first know how much we care."
This is totally untrue. If you're in possession of knowledge that other people find useful, they're perfectly happy to "pick your brain" even if you don't give a tinker's damn about them.
4. "Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners."
This quote is responsible for some Gawd-awful speeches. Listeners pay attention to your life story if what you learned is relevant to them and presented in an engaging manner. Nobody wants to hear some boring, self-centered person drone on about their life experience. (Shudder...)
5. "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
Dead wrong. A dwarf will never get on an NBA team and a person with an IQ of 75 will never become a brain surgeon. What irks me about this quote is that it encourages the notion that everyone has an equal chance in this world, when in fact some people simply win the genetic lottery. The trick is to find what comes naturally and then build upon it.
6. "It is true that integrity alone won't make you a leader, but without integrity you will never be one."
While one might wish this were true, the statement is demonstrably false. History is chockablock with examples of great leaders who utterly lacked integrity but instead did what was necessary acquire and maintain power. For great leaders, integrity is a luxury few can afford rather than a requirement for the job.
7. "The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the sales people on the team, but they also made more calls than the others made."
Sales managers are always throwing this quote at salespeople in the mistaken belief that if they'll just make more cold calls, they'll make more sales. Top salespeople don't make more calls. They make the right calls to the right people. And they know what to say when they're on the call. Contrary to popular belief, sales is not a numbers game.
8. "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want."
In the real world, you'll run across people who will take advantage of your good nature and competence. They'll get you to "help" them and give you nothing in return. Knowing where to draw the boundaries is as important (and maybe more important) than a willingness to help.
9. "Action is the real measure of intelligence."
On the contrary, there are plenty of idiots in this world who are constantly taking action that either goes nowhere or is actively counterproductive. Similarly, there are many highly intelligent people-physicists and mathematicians come to mind-who take action very sparingly. It's not that amount of action that matters; it's the appropriateness of the action.
10. "Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting."