Great Throughts Treasury

This site is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Alan William Smolowe who gave birth to the creation of this database.


"We must learn that competence is better than extravagance, that worth is better than wealth, that the golden calf we have worshipped has no more brains than that one of old which the Hebrews worshipped. So beware of money and money’s worth as the supreme passion of the mind. Beware of the craving for enormous acquisition." -

"If we conducted ourselves as sensibly in good times as we do in hard times, we could all acquire a competence." - William Feather

"Obscurity and a competence - that is the life that is best worth living." - Mark Twain, pen name of Samuel Langhorne Clemens

"Wealth brings noble opportunities, and competence is a proper object of pursuit; but wealth, and even competence, may be bought at too high a price. Wealth itself has no moral attribute. It is not money, but the love of money, which is the root of all evil. It is the relation between wealth and the mind and the character of its possessor which is the essential thing." - George Stillman Hillard

"A college degree is a Social Certificate, not a proof of competence." -

"Competence always contains the seeds of incompetence." - Laurence J. Peter, fully Laurence Johnston Peter

"In our culture we make heroes of the men who sit on top of a heap of money, and we pay attention not only to what they say in their field of competence, but to their wisdom on every other question in the world." - Max Lerner, fully Maxwell "Max" Alan Lerner, aka Mikhail Lerner

"To be successful, a leader must develop a core of loyal staff members who share his sense of mission, serve as his early warning system, possess acute political instincts, and have the competence to protect him from his own mistakes." -

"We must learn that competence is better than extravagance, that worth is better than wealth, that the golden calf we have worshipped has no more brains than that one of old which the Hebrews worshipped. So beware of money and money’s worth as the supreme passion of the mind. Beware of the craving for enormous acquisition." - Cyrus Augustus Bartol

"The 21 Indispensible Qualities of a Leader CHARACTER: Be a Piece of the Rock CHARISMA: The First Impression Can Seal the Deal. COMMITMENT: It Separates Doers from Dreamers. COMMUNICATION: Without It You Travel Alone. COMPETENCE: If You Build It, They Will Come. COURAGE: One Person with Courage Is a Majority. DISCERNMENT: Put an End to Unsolved Mysteries. FOCUS: The Sharper It Is, the Sharper You Are. GENEROSITY: Your Candle Loses Nothing When It Lights Another. INITIATIVE: You Won’t Leave Home Without It. LISTENING: To Connect with Their Hearts, Use Your Ears. PASSION: Take This Life and Love It. POSITIVE ATTITUDE: If You Believe You Can, You Can. PROBLEM SOLVING: You Can’t Let Your Problems Be a Problem. RELATIONSHIPS: If You Get Along, They’ll Go Along. RESPONSIBILITY: If You Won’t Carry the Ball, You Can’t Lead the Team. SECURITY: Competence Never Compensates for Insecurity. SELF-DISCIPLINE: The First Person You Lead Is You. SERVANTHOOD: To Get Ahead, Put Others First. TEACHABILITY: To Keep Leading, Keep Learning. VISION: You Can Seize Only What You Can." - John C. Maxwell

"The drive to resist compulsion is more important in wild animals than sex, food, or water. He found that captive white-footed mice spent inordinate time and energy just resisting experimental manipulation. If the experimenters turned the lights up, the mouse spent his time turning them down. If the experimenter turned the lights down, the mouse turned them up. The drive for competence or to resist compulsion is a drive to avoid helplessness. " - Martin Seligman, Martin E. P. "Marty" Seligman

"The Ten Mohist Doctrines [paraphrase] As their movement developed, the Mohists came to present themselves as offering a collection of ten key doctrines, divided into five pairs. The ten doctrines correspond to the titles of the ten triads, the ten sets of three essays that form the core of the Mozi. Although the essays in each triad differ in detail, the gist of each doctrine may be briefly summarized as follows. “Elevating the Worthy” and “Conforming Upward.” The purpose of government is to achieve a stable social, economic, and political order (zhi, pronounced “jr”) by promulgating a unified conception of morality (yi). This task of moral education is to be carried out by encouraging everyone to “conform upward” to the good example set by social and political superiors and by rewarding those who do so and punishing those who do not. Government is to be structured as a centralized, bureaucratic state led by a virtuous monarch and managed by a hierarchy of appointed officials. Appointments are to be made on the basis of competence and moral merit, without regard for candidates' social status or origins. “Inclusive Care” and “Rejecting Aggression.” To achieve social order and exemplify the key virtue of ren (humanity, goodwill), people must inclusively care for each other, having as much concern for others' lives, families, and communities as for their own, and in their relations with others seek to benefit them. Military aggression is wrong for the same reasons that theft, robbery, and murder are: it harms others in pursuit of selfish benefit, while ultimately failing to benefit Heaven, the spirits, or society as a whole. “Thrift in Utilization” and “Thrift in Funerals.” To benefit society and care for the welfare of the people, wasteful luxury and useless expenditures must be eliminated. Seeking always to bring wealth to the people and order to society, the ren (humane) person avoids wasting resources on extravagant funerals and prolonged mourning (which were the custom in ancient China). “Heaven's Intention” and “Elucidating Ghosts.” Heaven is the noblest, wisest moral agent, so its intention is a reliable, objective standard of what is morally right (yi) and must be respected. Heaven rewards those who obey its intention and punishes those who defy it, hence people should strive to be humane and do what is right. Social and moral order (zhi) can be advanced by encouraging belief in ghosts and spirits who reward the good and punish the wicked. “Rejecting Music” and “Rejecting Fatalism.” The humane (ren) person opposes the extravagant musical entertainment and other luxuries enjoyed by rulers and high officials, because these waste resources that could otherwise be used for feeding and clothing the common people. Fatalism is not ren, because by teaching that our lot in life is predestined and human effort is useless, it interferes with the pursuit of economic wealth, a large population, and social order (three primary goods that the humane person desires for society). Fatalism fails to meet a series of justificatory criteria and so must be rejected." - Mozi or Mo-tze, Mocius or Mo-tzu, original name Mo Di, aka Master Mo NULL

"Sincerity and competence is a strong combination. In politics, it is everything. " - Peggy Noonan, born Margaret Ellen Noonan

"Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the naturals, the ones who somehow know how to teach." - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"Every technical hierarchy, in time, develops a competence inversion."" - Putt's Law NULL

"Meaning may become a very practical matter for those of us who do difficult work or lead difficult lives. Meaning is strength. Physicians often seek their strength in competence. Indeed, competence and expertise are two of the most respected qualities in the medical subculture, as well as in our society. But important as they are, they are not sufficient to fully sustain us" - Rachel Naomi Remen

"No foreign policy-no matter how ingenious-has any chance of success if it is born in the minds of few and carried in the hearts of many." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"He was a thorough good sort; a bit limited; a bit thick in the head; yes; but a thorough good sort. Whatever he took up he did in the same matter-of-fact sensible way; without a touch of imagination, without a sparkle of brilliancy, but with the inexplicable niceness of his type." - Virginia Woolf, nee Stephen, fully Adeline Virginia Woolf

"I think that taking life seriously means something such as this: that whatever man does on this planet has to be done in the lived truth of the terror of creation, of the grotesque, of the rumble of panic underneath everything. Otherwise it is false. Whatever is achieved must be achieved with the full exercise of passion, of vision, of pain, of fear, and of sorrow. How do we know ... that our part of the meaning of the universe might not be a rhythm in sorrow?" - Ernest Becker

"Instead of asking, “Why does this happen Why do I feel left in the lurch” we can ask “How does it happen that there are people who sing with such confidence, ‘God’s strong name is our help’”" - Eugene Peterson

"When we talk of the equality of man, we find, also, a challenge and an opportunity; a challenge to breathe new life into the ideals enshrined in the Charter, an opportunity to bring men closer to freedom and true equality. And thus, closer to a love of peace." - Haile Selassie