Unfortunately, reality

There is an almost irresistible temptation to choose one scenario over the other: to say, in effect, "This is the future which we believe will take place. The other futures are interesting. But they're irrelevant. We're going to follow this scenario." [...] Unfortunately, reality does not follow even the best-thought-out scenario. The point of scenario-planning is to help us suspend our disbelief in all the futures: to allow us to think that any one of them might take place. Then we can prepare for what we don't think is going to happen.

—Peter Schwartz, The Art Of The Long View: Planning For The Future In An Uncertain World, p. 195 (notes)

Errors of omission

Now for a key fact: accounting systems in the western world only take account of errors of commission, the less important of the two types of error. They take no account of errors of omission. Therefore, in an organization that frowns on mistakes and in which only errors of commission are identified, a manager only has to be concerned about doing something that should not have been done. Because errors of omission are not recorded they often go unacknowledged. If acknowledged, accountability for them is seldom made explicit. In such a situation a manager who wants to invoke as little disapproval as possible must try either to minimize errors of commission or transfer to others responsibility for those he or she makes.

The best way to do this is to do nothing, or as little as one can get away with. This is a major reason that organizations do not make radical changes.

—Russell L. Ackoff. "Why Few Organizations Adopt Systems Thinking". Systems Research and Behavioral Science 23 (December 2006): 705-708.

The few real hours of life

By trusting your own heart, you shall gain more confidence in other men. For all our penny-wisdom, for all our soul-destroying slavery to habit, it is not to be doubted that all men have sublime thoughts; that all men value the few real hours of life; they love to be heard; they love to be caught up into the vision of principles. We mark with light in the memory the few interviews we have had, in the dreary years of routine and of sin, with souls that made our souls wiser; that spoke what we thought; that told us what we knew; that gave us leave to be what we inly were.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson. "An Address." Collected in The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Imitation

Imitation cannot go above its model. The imitator dooms himself to hopeless mediocrity. The inventor did it because it was natural to him, and so in him it has a charm. In the imitator something else is natural, and he bereaves himself of his own beauty, to come short of another man's.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson. "An Address." Collected in The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

A blank spot on the map

Man always kills the thing he loves, and so we the pioneers have killed our wilderness. Some say we had to. Be that as it may, I am glad I shall never be young without wild country to be young in. Of what avail are forty freedoms without a blank spot on the map?

—Aldo Leopold. "The Green Lagoons." Collected in A Sand County Almanac: With Essays on Conservation.

Higher civilization

The darkest secret of this country, I am afraid, is that too many of its citizens imagine that they belong to a much higher civilization somewhere else. That higher civilization doesn't have to be another country. It can be the past instead—the United States as it was before it was spoiled by immigrants and the enfranchisement of the blacks.

This state of mind allows too many of us to lie and cheat and steal from the rest of us, to sell us junk and addictive poisons and corrupting entertainments. What are the rest of us, after all, but sub-human aborigines?

—Kurt Vonnegut. Bluebeard.