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10 Life Lessons from Lord Chesterfield

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The timeless advice of Lord Chesterfield

Philip Stanhope, better known as Lord Chesterfield was a man of letters, statesman, and diplomat. For over 30 years he dutifully wrote over 400 letters to his illegitimate son Philip which gave advice on a myriad of subjects. These letters were published in 1774 and contained dozens of nuggets of quotable wisdom that remain today.

Here are 10 quotes that apply to men and women of all ages.

  1. The power of concentration. “The power of applying attention, steady and undissipated, to a single object, is the sure mark of a superior genius.” 
  2. How do you get a good read on someone? Lord Chesterfield advises, “Look in the face of the person to whom you are speaking if you wish to know his real sentiments, for he can command his words more easily than his countenance”. 
  3. How do you make yourself liked by others? “Those whom you can make like themselves better, will, I promise you, like you very well.” 
  4. What’s the underlying motive? “When a man seeks your advice he generally wants your praise.” 
  5. What about the power of consideration and gratitude? “Compliments of congratulation are always kindly taken, and cost nothing but pen, ink, and paper.” 
  6. Here’s why we should always aim for the best possible result. “Aim at perfection in everything, though in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere, will come much nearer to it, than those whose laziness and despondency make them give it up as unattainable.” 
  7. What’s your mission? What drives you? “Firmness of purpose is one of the most necessary sinews of character and one of the best instruments of success. Without it, genius wastes its efforts in a maze of inconsistencies.” 
  8. What we choose to give our attention to matters. “A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things, but cannot receive great ones.” 
  9. Sometimes it’s better to say nothing. “Silence and reserve suggest latent power. What some men think has more effect than what others say.”. 
  10. What does being frantic tell others about ourselves? “Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him. Haste and hurry are very different things.”

 

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