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It seems that every time you pick up a magazine or look at the new releases in a bookstore, there is a new groundbreaking trend in leadership and management strategies. New ideas are important and necessary for innovation and change, but sometimes we lose sight of the common sense wisdom that has endured for hundreds or even thousands of years.

Reflect on these leadership quotes from ancient philosophers and see how their words still ring true in your day-to-day work life.

“Better be wise by the misfortunes of others than by your own.” – Aesop

In short, learn from other people’s mistakes. Over the course of your working life, you have been exposed to a variety of different personalities, work styles, management strategies and business ethics. Some mentors and colleagues have demonstrated characteristics and qualities you want to emulate — work ethic, integrity, perseverance, accountability. Others have shown you the behavior you absolutely don’t want to imitate — poor judgment, dishonesty, selfishness, inflexibility. Develop the kind of leader you want to be by learning from the strengths and weaknesses of others.

“Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” – Aristotle

Perfection may not be possible in every pursuit, but doing your best work and striving for personal success is much easier and much more enjoyable when you are engaged in your job. What do you find most interesting about your job? What challenges you to become a better leader or manager? How can you do more projects that use your talents or interests?

“Waste not fresh tears over old griefs.” – Euripides

Dwelling on past mistakes — whether they are yours or those of others — holds you back from learning and growth. Once you have resolved a problem at work, put it behind you and focus on what lessons you can take away from it. How can this experience improve your leadership skills? How can it help you not make the same mistake in the future? How can you use it to teach others?

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.” – Plato

Often, getting a project started is the most difficult and important step. Be strategic in how you plan, strategize and execute new work assignments. Learn how you work best — whether it’s allowing for quiet time to outline the process from start to finish or kicking off a project with a big team brainstorming meeting — and set yourself up for success.

What are your favorite leadership quotes? Share them in the comments.

How To Improve Personal Effectiveness

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