Today is Shakespeare’s birthday, so to mark the day, I thought I’d share with you my Top 5 favourite quotes from the Bard’s wonderful works of words.
“There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”
Hamlet, Act II Scene 2
NLP hadn’t been invented in Shakespeare’s day, but this is as neat a summary of NLP philosophy as anyone could devise – and so beautifully lyrical. This is definitely my favourite!
“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing the attempt”
Measure for Measure Act 1 Scene 4
I love this – how much more eloquent than ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. Shakespeare knew a lot about the way emotions can cloud our judgement, didn’t he?
“But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive”
Henry V, Act IV Scene 3
This is from the ‘St Crispin’s day’ speech on the eve of the battle of Agincourt. I love it because I have a vivid memory of Will Houston ringing out this line in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. I can still hear his lovely resonant voice in my mind. Done well, this speech reduces me to tears!
“This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man”
Hamlet, Act 1 Scene 3
More from Hamlet. It is the play I know best. So much of the work I do is about helping leaders develop their own style and stay true to their own beliefs and values. This quote sums up my feeling about how important it is to get comfortable with who you are and let people see it.
“There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries
On such full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”
Julius Caesar Act IV Scene 3
Okay, so you could substitute ‘carpe diem’ – ‘seize the day’ for this, but isn’t this just a gorgeous piece of verse? Again, my affection for this speech is related to a particular actor (Greg Hicks this time) but it also resounds with my own experiences of taking important decisions and knowing that there is a time to act that cannot be missed.
Of course, I could go on (and on and on). There are many more well-known quotes from Shakespeare and also lots of relatively unknown gems. I’d love to hear your favourites…