Wisdom on the Other Side of Complexity

Long ago, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. observed, “I don’t care a fig about simplicity on this side of complexity but I would give my life for simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

In his latest book, Possible, William Ury includes a number of quotations that serve as head notes to the knowledge and wisdom he provides in response to this question: “How to survive and thrive  in an Age of Conflict?”

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o “We are continually faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.” Margaret Mead

o “The Possible’s slow fuse is lit By the Imagination.”  Emily Dickinson

o “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear?”  Lao Tzu

o “Who looks inside, awakes.”  Carl Jung

o “If you could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each one’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

o “We should never allow ourselves to be bullied by an either-or. There is often the possibility of something better than either of these two alternatives.”  Mary Parker Follett

o “It always seems impossible until it is done.”  Nelson Mandela

o            “He drew a circle that shut me out —
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew the circle that took him in!”

Edwin Markham

o       “There is always a large horizon….There is
much to be done….It is up to you to contribute
some small part to a program of human
betterment for all time.”

Frances Perkins

o “When spider webs unite, they can halt even a lion.”  Ethiopian proverb

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Possible: How to Survive (and Thrive) in an Age of Conflict was published by HarperBusiness/An Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (February 2024),

William Ury is the co–founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, where he directs the Project on Preventing War. One of the world’s leading negotiation specialists, his past clients include dozens of Fortune 500 companies as well as the White House and Pentagon. Ury received his B.A. from Yale and a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard. His books Getting to YES and Getting Past No have sold more than five million copies worldwide.

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