Theodor Seuss Geisel, author, cartoonist and illustrator, has delighted generations of children with his books, enchanting classics such as ’And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street ’(famously rejected by every publisher he showed it to), ’The Cat in the Hat’, ’Green Eggs and Ham’ and ’How the Grinch Stole Christmas’, that portray a wonderfully wacky world of whimsical characters and catchy, snappy rhymes. The ’Cat in the Hat’ and ’Green Eggs and Ham’ are perhaps his most famous works.
But to limit his genius to clever characters for little children would be to do this giant of a man no justice: his 60-plus books also offer timeless words of wisdom for all. And notably, Seuss used his skills as an illustrator to draw cartoons attacking racism, anti-Semitism and fascism.
Here are seven examples of ‘Seussisms’, prescriptions for a successful life from a book of the same name. Take the time to cogitate and marvel on his wisdom – they are apt whether you’re a child or an adult, whether you’ve made it or are on your way to making it.
See Also: 7 Career Lessons From Barney Stinson
1. Seek Equality and Justice
“I know, up on top
you are seeing great sights,
But down at the bottom
we, too, should have rights.”
From Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
Lesson: Whichever position in life you hold, whether you’re a junior -ranking manager or a CEO, make sure you treat those underneath you well. They too have rights.
2. Be Resilient
“I learned there are troubles
Of more than one kind.
Some come from ahead
And some come from behind.
But I’ve bought a big bat.
I’m all ready, you see.
Now my troubles are going
To have troubles with me!”
From: I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew
Lesson: How we view our "troubles" affects our success. By developing a resilient mindset, one that refuses to be cowed by opposition, you’ll develop the resilience you need to overcome life’s challenges. It’s also important to maintain a positive outlook, to envision a positive future whereby "your troubles will have troubles with me". Resilient people do not look upon themselves as victims; rather they seek to find ways to overcome their challenges..
3. Think First, Speak Later
“My father had warned me, “Don’t babble. Don’t bray.
For you never can tell who might hear what you say.”
My father had warned me, “But button your lip.”
And I guess that I should have. I made a bad slip.
From: Steak for Supper
Lesson: Although you may be a chatty person, expressing yourself freely could cause problems for you if it annoys or embarrasses others or breaks a confidence. The maxim, "Say when you have something valuable to say", is apt because it emphasises that communication should have an inherent value. If you’re in a leadership position, there will be several instances in which your discretion will be required, so it is important to communicate only what needs to be communicated, with your primary focus being on adding value to others.
4. Be Creative
“The places I hiked to!
The roads that I rambled
To find the best eggs
That have ever been scrambled!
If you want to get eggs
You can’t buy at a store,
You have to do things
Never thought of before.”
From: Scrambled Eggs Super
Lesson: Creativity is the key to our progress as a human race. It enables us to solve problems that were previously unsolved, to create opportunities where there were previously none. The only limits to our creativity are our imagination and our willingness to explore. Furthermore, it is only by giving our imagination the freedom to go where it will go that we can allow creativity to flourish and reap its benefits in our lives and in our careers.
5. Be True to Yourself
“You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy
who’ll decide where to go.”
From: Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
Lesson: You are your own unique selling point! No-one can do ’you’ as well as you can. So there is no reason to be someone else. Embrace that truth and seize control of your life and your passions. To paraphrase Ralph Waldo Emmerson, if you can succeed in being yourself in a world where you’re constantly asked to be someone else, you’ve achieved a great deal. Being yourself will give your life (and your work) focus and direction, because you will be true to your values and beliefs, rather than conforming to someone else’s, a state of affairs that will prove untenable. If you remain ’yourself’, your life will be richer for it.
6. Keep Learning
“The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn
The more places you’ll go!
From: I Can Read with My Eyes Shut!
Lesson: Continuous learning is the key to success, in life and at work. So read as much as you can to expand your knowledge - trade journals, blogs, articles and books written by experts, for example. Continuous learning will give you a competitive advantage by keeping you on top of your field of expertise, leading to increased opportunities for growth and advancement.
7. Be a Leader
"Unless someone likes you cares a whole lot,
Nothing is going to get better
From: The Lorax
Lesson: One of the key challenges facing organizations today is the dearth of leadership, at all levels of an organization. According to one report, lack of strong leadership is a significant "impediment to growth". Great leaders have an array of leadership attributes, but one of them is the ability to inspire and effect change. To do this effectively, a leader must care. Great leaders are also proactive and will ’go the extra mile’ to get things done.
Seuss was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for “Special Contribution to Children’s Literature” in 1984.
Which are your favourite Seussisms? Let me know in the comments box below.