THE FIRST KEY: Know your own business or artistic terrain to the max. Specialize. Bone up on it. Make certain that if anyone comes at you with a question, you know the answer! If they do and you don’t, you didn’t bone up enough. General George Patton said: “In order for a man to become a great soldier…it is necessary for him to be so thoroughly conversant with all sorts of military possibilities that whenever an occasion arises, he has at hand, without effort on his part, he has a parallel. To attain this end….it is necessary… to read military history in its earliest and hence crudest form and to follow it down in natural sequence permitting his mind to grow with his subject until he can grasp without effort the most abstruse question of the science of war because he is already permeated with all its elements.” So if you can see the enemy’s intent and realize it’s what Hannibal was doing when he crossed the Alps, because you’re up on your subject, you’re armed for bear. You’ve done your homework. In other wordsgetting beat by the enemy shouldn’t be a source of shame, it’s getting SURPRISED by anything the enemy DOES.
Following this precept, Patton read widely in military history all his life, a practice that was fundamental for his later success. His knowledge of warfare in the past, his acquaintance with actual problems of battlefields distant in time, and his study of historical commanders enhanced his own leadership. Instantly aware of all the options involved in coming to a decision, he could choose the boldest course because he knew what the great ones had done.
THIRD KEY: STUDY THE WORDS of the GREAT ONES AND MEMORIZE THEIR TEACHINGS. A quick and easy way to do that is get a dollar copy of BARTLETT’s QUOTATIONS, online, used from ABEBOOKS.com “I like to have quotations ready for every occasion – they give one ideas so pat, and save one the trouble of finding expression adequate to one’s feelings.” - Robert Burns – from “The Scottish Quotation Book” My SECRETS of USING ABES to get books super inexpensively….
Chinese proverb: “Good sayings are a string of pearls.” The French call it the mot juste – the word that fits the thought, like a key fits a lock. That’s what a poet does…specialize in “keywords”. If others have said it better, why bother trying to top them? Simply collect the Ring of Keys, and apply them aptly to any current situation. We follow Shakespeare’s lead, “brevity is the soul of wit”], and collect the great quotes, proverbs, aphorisms, maxims, bon mots, so that we have the answers at hand. They’re light and portable, and potent, adding light, heat and great richness to our lives. We can even invent our own one day.
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