Lessons and Quotes from John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars

Powerful Lessons

If you have a teenager in your house, you have heard about The Fault in Our Stars.  Bestselling author John Green’s fifth novel has sold millions of copies, won critical praise, been translated into 47 languages, and the movie adaptation is now in theaters everywhere.  The book and the movie have captivated audiences of all ages.

9780525478812A few years ago, I picked up a manuscript and began reading it (this was before the official release).  I wasn’t too far into the book when I realized its power.  It’s a story about two teenagers, told from sixteen year old Hazel’s point of view.  She is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and meets Gus, another teenager, in a cancer support group.  It explores many powerful life lessons.  No matter how brief our time may be here, we have the ability to live it to its fullest.

I had the opportunity to interview John soon after the book was released.  It was so new that he didn’t want to give away the plot.  In this interview, hear John Green:

  • Explain how he writes authentically from a 16 year old girl’s perspective
  • How he and his brother work to combat “world suck”
  • Whether he has a secret plan on social media (he has millions of devoted followers)
  • Why he once licked a cat
  • And, in one of my favorite answers ever, John did give a true “elevator” speech about the book (must see)

 

Life Lessons

 

I often write about leadership, success, and life lessons.  All of John’s books are filled with quotes on these important life themes.  Here are a few lessons from this book:

Today matters.

Search for love.

No matter how much time we have, we can impact others and the world.

Life is a struggle.

Find your authentic voice.

We all face challenges. Who we become is often based on how we handle what comes our way.

Enjoy the little things.

In a storm, you can handle much more than you think possible.

Wisdom is possible at any age.

 

John Green Quotes

 

Here are a few John Green quotes that will likely have you reflecting from this book and a few of his others:

 

“The marks humans leave are too often scars.” –John Green

 

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” –John Green

 

“We need never be hopeless because we can never be irreparably broken.” –John Green

 

“Pain is like a fabric: The stronger it is, the more it’s worth.” –John Green

 

“You are so busy being you that you have no idea how utterly unprecedented you are.” –John Green

 

“If you don’t imagine, nothing ever happens at all.” –John Green

 

“Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.” –John Green

 

“Books are so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.” –John Green

 

“Youth is counted sweetest by those who are no longer young.” –John Green

 

“We are greater than the sum of our parts.” –John Green

How Are Negotiation and Leadership Related?

Handshake in the city

This is a guest post by Steve Brown. Steve’s writing on various sites focuses on business related topics. Also he writes for the site The Gap Partnership. Apart from his writing, he loves to swim and hike whenever he gets time.

There’s a lot more to being a good leader than just being smart. People who have studied great leaders have identified certain traits that are common to these people, whether they are in business, politics, or any other field.  Some of these same leadership traits can also be useful in a negotiation.  Here are some of the ways in which wise leadership and wise negotiation converge.

 

A sense of fairness

A strong leader always treats people fairly, including employees, customers, and everyone else. If employees feel that they are being treated unfairly, it can create resentment and undermine the leadership. Ensuring that everyone is treated honestly and fairly engenders a greater sense of respect and loyalty; thus, this is an important trait of wise leaders.

This same sense of fairness is beneficial in negotiations as well. It can help you to establish trust during the process so that you can work with the other person to achieve an outcome that is fair to all parties.

 

Look for mutual benefit

Great leaders look for solutions that can satisfy everyone’s interests not just their own. By ensuring that the needs of customers, employees, shareholders, and others are considered, it creates an environment where everyone can be pleased with the decisions and the results.  In a negotiation, looking for this mutual benefit can change the dynamic from an adversarial one to a situation where the parties are looking for shared solutions that benefit both of them.  This is how you can achieve a win-win result that both parties are happy with.

 

Emotional detachment

Sometimes making a good decision means detaching the emotions so that you can weigh your options dispassionately and logically.  Good leaders know how to do this so that they can make wise decisions.  In negotiation, you also need to avoid becoming overly attached to a particular plan or outcome.  Instead, keep an open mind and be willing to consider suggestions and alternatives.  Bringing too many emotions into the process can cloud the issues and lead to poor decisions.

 

“Great leaders effectively communicate their higher purpose.” -Steve Brown

 

Have a higher purpose

Leading with No

man wearing a suit sitting in a table showing a signboard with t

 

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair once said, “The art of leadership is saying no, not yes.  It is very easy to say yes.”

 

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.” -Tony Blair

 

It’s one of my favorite quotes.

So much of leadership literature is about what to do.  You can read about how to organize your company for success:  You determine a course of action, outline a strategy, and develop the plan.

It is more fun to say yes.  It’s easier.

I think every parent can relate.

“Can I have ice cream for dinner?”  Yes!

“May I stay up all night?” Sure!

I think every business leader can relate.

“We need to add six people to my department.”  No problem!

“I know it blows the budget, but can I still spend this money?”  Absolutely!

Saying no, setting limits, and knowing what you will not do is hard work.  But that’s leadership.

Renowned strategy expert Michael Porter said, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”

 

“The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” -Michael Porter

What’s Your Leadership Legacy?

Adult Hands Key To Child

 

Do you think about your leadership legacy?

What type of culture do you want to leave in your organization?

As a result of your leadership, what will remain long after you left?

 

Andrew Thorn is a business coach, consultant, and psychologist.  He has recently written Leading With Your Legacy In Mind.  I had the opportunity to ask him about his new book and leaving a leadership legacy.

 

The Importance of Legacy

Why did you decide to write about legacy?

My father passed away when he was 65 years old.  I was born when he was 30, so many of the important events of my life happened 30 years after they did for him.  When he died, I had an overwhelming sense that I was next in line.  This caused me to think about my legacy and the impact that I was making.  I asked myself if I was satisfied with my life, and the answer was no.  I began to make some changes and that included writing about the process of creating a legacy.

 

“Leadership is the act of making things better for others.” -Andrew Thorn

 

What is Leadership?

What’s your definition of leadership?

Leadership is the act of making things better for others.  When we live by this definition, all of us, regardless of our formal title or lack thereof, can engage in leading with our legacy in mind.

 

“Discussion is impossible with someone who claims not to seek the truth, but already to possess it.” -Romain Rolland

 

What is the “arc of leadership”?

The “arc of leadership” represents our own maturation as a leader.  It helps us remember that life is a circular experience and that it is difficult for us to see it as a whole.  When we pull out an arc, or a part of that circle, we can study it and understand it more effectively.  Each arc calls us into movement and improvement.

 

“The measure of a society is not only what it does but the quality of its aspirations.” -Wade Davis

 

Where To Spend Your Time

I’m interested in your view of balance.  Your chapter on this subject is called “From Balance to Focus”.  What does this mean?

A very lucky person, over the course of a 45 year career, will spend about 117,000 hours at work (average of 50 hours a week working), 131,000 hours sleeping (average of 8 hours a day sleeping), and 65,000 hours (average of 4 hours a day) taking care of personal responsibilities.  This scenario would leave the lucky person with a little more than 50,000 hours to use however he or she wants.

Unfortunately, most of us work longer, sleep less, encumber life with unnecessary personal responsibilities and then find ourselves too tired to make our free time matter.  Just by looking at the hours, we can see that there is no way to balance the number of hours between work and life.  We need to work to provide for our needs.  Instead of trying to balance the time, we must spend time focusing our efforts into meaningful work.Andrew Thorn

The time we spend at work is the time when we are most awake, most alert, most focused on what we want, most productive and most engaged.  Once we focus on where we want to work and how we will contribute what we know we must contribute, we find ourselves full of energy at the end of the work day, which in turn means that I can use my 50,000 hours more effectively, too.

 

How do you coach clients to understand ‘purpose’?

I think it is important that we understand that purpose is a moving target.  In other words, purpose is different during the different seasons of life.  Sometimes we hang on to a purpose for too long or we let it go too soon.  This is why we must be constantly evaluating what we find to be meaningful.  When we connect to meaning, our purposes come into focus, too.  When we can see purpose for what it is – the guiding force of why we do what we do, then we can begin to also know what to do.  I use one or two questions to connect my clients to purpose: (1) Why do I want to do this? & (2) If this were my last day, would I still be willing to do what I am about to do? Once these questions are answered, there are very few doubts about purpose.  I don’t want to make it any more complicated than this.

 

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams

 

From Success to Significance

 

Let’s talk about one of the leadership arcs: moving from success to significance. How do you help coach someone in this area?

A Leadership Course for the Rising Star

Cutlery Set

 

The Case of the Missing Cutlery

As a new manager, Kevin volunteers for the most unusual challenge.  Kevin is the manager of an airline catering company.  The airline is furious when it discovers that silverware is disappearing at an accelerating rate.  Given an aggressive deadline, Kevin needs to find out why the cutlery is disappearing and solve the problem.

As he is solving the case, Kevin learns about team building and motivation.

 

The Case of the Missing Cutlery is your personal story of learning leadership.  You found yourself managing a team with a major problem, with limited time to fix it, and with limited resources.  Why is this story resonating with readers?  Have you shared it with some of your colleagues working on “the case”?

The Case of the Missing CutleryThere’s so much great literature on leadership, but when I was coming up, it was hard to see how the high-flying exploits of C-level titans applied to me as a newly-minted shift supervisor.  People can easily relate to stories on the shop floor as well as colorful characters that we all have shared at one time or another.  I have received nothing but warm reactions from my peers including Angela Ahrendts, Burberry’s former Chief Executive (and now with Apple), who endorsed the book.

 

What is buoyancy?  Why and how is it created?

Contrasted with the command and control of yesterday’s hierarchical organizations, buoyancy is the concept that you “float” by connecting with the hearts of your people, galvanizing them on a journey toward an amazing goal.  They “float” you because they believe you are worthy and reward your belief in them with their belief in you.

 

The Importance of Story

Why is storytelling an important skill for a leader?

Storytelling is man’s oldest form of communication.  Throughout the ages, we have used this resonant means to impart vitally important values, beliefs and principles. It is powerful because it is human and emotive.

 

What is the “six o’clock conversation” and how is it important to leadership?

Well it’s funny you should ask: I remember vividly when I got my first leadership role at venerable ad agency McCann Erickson.  Mike, my mad-man boss, slapped me on the back and said, “Well, kid, congratulations.  You are now dinner conversation.  Everything you say, and more importantly how you say it, will be shared at dining tables all across your organization.”

Putting thought into the positivity and the emotive quality of what you say can move mountains, or as poet Maya Angelou would say, “ You may be forgotten for what you said, or forgotten for what you did, but never forgotten for how you make people feel.”

 

Kevin Allen is best known for his work at the top of advertising behemoths McCann-WorldGroup, the Interpublic Group and Lowe and Partners Worldwide where he worked with brands including Microsoft, Nestle, and Lufthansa.  He pitched the famous “Priceless” campaign for MasterCard.  He is the Founder & Chairman of employee engagement company Planet Jockey, which specializes in gamified learning and business transformation company re: kap.

 

Define real ambition and why it’s important.