Bay Area Inbound Marketing Blog

What Great Companies Have in Common with Ralph Waldo Emerson

Posted by Laurie Monahan on Thu, Apr 25, 2013 @ 04:05 PM

Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in 1805. It is amazing to me that most of what he wrote back then is blueprint advice for any great Company, Marketer, or Individual today in my opinion. I read a few of his quotes 7 years ago, and fell in love with his prose and agreed with his ideas.

There are more than 800-widely-quoted quips out there by Emerson along with a number of famous essays. After writing, one of his essays: "Self Reliance",  he was criticized for advocating the idea of being true to your own inner beliefs and not going along with societal norms; In it his most famous quote along that vein: "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." 

When I look at how true and uplifting his ideas were, if they were against societal norms, then I believe going against societal norms was the right thing to do as well. 

I grabbed 100 of the quotes that I liked best to demonstrate his philosophies that work for any Company (or individual) that aspires to greatness.

Philosophies to live by, by Ralph Waldo Emerson:

  1. "Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow."
  2. "A great part of courage is the courage of having done the thing before."
  3. "Bad times have a scientific value. These are occasions a good learner would not miss."
  4. "Trust your instinct to the end, though you can render no reason."
  5. "Trust men and they will be true to you; treat them greatly and they will show themselves great."
  6. "People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character."
  7. "Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen."
  8. "A man's growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends."
  9. "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
  10. "Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience."
  11. "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."
  12. "All I have seen teaches me to trust the creator for all I have not seen."
  13. "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
  14. "Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding."
  15. "The only way to have a friend is to be one."
  16. "What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you."
  17. "Nobody can bring you peace but yourself."
  18. "Always do what you are afraid to do."
  19. "A man is what he thinks about all day long."
  20. "Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect."
  21. "It is one of the beautiful compensations in this life that no one can sincerely try to help another without helping himself." 
  22. "An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory."
  23. "Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force - that thoughts rule the world."
  24. "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."
  25. "A man is usually more careful of his money than he is of his principles."
  26. "Don't be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment."
  27. "For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else."
  28. "He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life."
  29. "Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them."
  30. "The first wealth is health."
  31. "As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way."
  32. "To be great is to be misunderstood."
  33. "Every experiment, by multitudes or by individuals, that has a sensual and selfish aim, will fail."
  34. "What you are comes to you."
  35. "Beauty without expression is boring."
  36. "Beauty without grace is the hook without the bait."
  37. "A man in debt is so far a slave."
  38. "Every wall is a door."
  39. "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
  40. "A good indignation brings out all one's powers."
  41. "Science does not know its debt to imagination."
  42. "Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
  43. "Nothing astonishes men so much as common sense and plain dealing."
  44. "The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck."
  45. "There are other measures of self-respect for a man, than the number of clean shirts he puts on every day."
  46. "The reward of a thing well done is having done it."
  47. "Getting old is a fascination thing. The older you get, the older you want to get."
  48. "The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization."
  49. "Money often costs too much."
  50. "Before we acquire great power we must acquire wisdom to use it well."
  51. "Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind."
  52. "People only see what they are prepared to see."
  53. "As a cure for worrying, work is better than whiskey."
  54. "I have thought a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women."
  55. "Doing well is the result of doing good. That's what capitalism is all about."
  56. "Hitch your wagon to a star."
  57. "Every man I meet is in some way my superior."
  58. "Every man supposes himself not to be fully understood or appreciated."
  59. "Make yourself necessary to somebody."
  60. "Little minds have little worries, big minds have no time for worries."
  61. "When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it."
  62. "Nothing external to you has any power over you."
  63. "Our faith comes in moments; our vice is habitual."
  64. "We aim above the mark to hit the mark."
  65. "Every man is a consumer, and ought to be a producer. He is by constitution expensive, and needs to be rich."
  66. "The highest revelation is that God is in every man."
  67. "As we grow old, the beauty steals inward."
  68. "Some books leave us free and some books make us free."
  69. "Who hears me, who understands me, becomes mine, a possession for all time."
  70. "No man ever prayed heartily without learning something."
  71. "People that seem so glorious are all show; underneath they are like everyone else."
  72. "There is a tendency for things to right themselves."
  73. "The secret of ugliness consists not in irregularity, but in being uninteresting."
  74. "We see God face to face every hour, and know the savor of Nature."
  75. "Why need I volumes, if one word suffice?"
  76. "Revolutions go not backward."
  77. "There is always safety in valor."
  78. "Our best thoughts come from others."
  79. "Give a boy address and accomplishments and you give him the mastery of palaces and fortunes where he goes."
  80. "No great man ever complains of want of opportunity."
  81. "The best effort of a fine person is felt after we have left their presence."
  82. "We are by nature observers, and thereby learners. That is our permanent state."
  83. "We are wiser than we know."
  84. "We are symbols, and inhabit symbols."
  85. "Fate is nothing but the deeds committed in a prior state of existence."
  86. "Power and speed be hands and feet."
  87. "Great geniuses have the shortest biographies."
  88. "If a man can... make a better mousetrap, the world will make a beaten path to his door."
  89. "Nature hates calculators."
  90. "Manners require time, and nothing is more vulgar than haste."
  91. "The search after the great men is the dream of youth, and the most serious occupation of manhood."
  92. "Words are also actions, and actions are a kind of words."
  93. "Every spirit makes its house, and we can give a shrewd guess from the house to the inhabitant."
  94. "We do not yet possess ourselves, and we know at the same time that we are much more."
  95. "In every society some men are born to rule, and some to advise."
  96. "If the tongue had not been framed for articulation, man would still be a beast in the forest."
  97. "It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them."
  98. "I think we must either get rid of slavery, or get rid of freedom."
  99. "The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be."
  100. "Our chief want is someone we know who will inspire us to be who we know we could be."

Emerson was a harvard-educated scholar and essayist. His essay "American Scholar" encouraged Americans to stop looking to and trying to emulate Europe and is considered to be "America's intellectual declaration of independence."

I wonder at how Emerson spent so much time thinking about such deep subjects. I have observed that greatness is often born of adversity. His father died of stomach cancer right before Emerson's 8th birthday, he had several siblings that died before adulthood, and his first wife became ill of tuberculosis within months of their marriage and died at age 19.

Emerson is considered the Father of Transcendentalists, which means to transcend.

I believe like Emerson that, for the most part, men are inherently good and we make ourselves into what we want by action or inaction. I also believe when companies strive to perform to a higher morale code they benefit, because people recognize it and seek to do business with them because of it.

I hope you enjoyed taking a break from work and life by reading Emerson's philosophies like I did. To quote Nietsche about Emerson's essays, "I have never felt so at home in a book."

Ralph Waldo Emerson ca1857 retouched.jpg


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Topics: Bay Area Inbound, Inbound Marketing in SF, marketing consultants in SF, Great Companies, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson