5 Popular Proverbs Challenged

Proverbs, throughout our lives, we continually hear and read them. In my opinion, the advice they imply is not always correct.

That is, they represent the beliefs and values of the person who said (or wrote) them at the time. The world has changed, and is constantly changing. Old beliefs are replaced by new ones; what’s not important back then, is valuable now.

Here, I list 5 proverbs whose meaning I challenge, though they may represent half-truths, which means they are half-false, as well:

  1. “Good things come to those who wait.”

    This can serve as an excuse for procrastination.

    It’s like the lazy guy who sits under a tree, and opens his mouth, waiting for a fruit to fall. Though, there is an extremely low possibility that it might fall, would you rather climb the tree or use a long stick to get the fruit?

    While good things may (or may not) come to those who wait, even better things happen to those who take action.

  2. “You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

    Whether we like it or not, our unconscious mind affects how we judge certain things, places, and people.

    If you were asked to give donation to a charity, who would you rather give your donation to: a sweaty muscular man or a pretty college girl? Unless the muscular man threatens to beat you up if you don’t give, most of the time, you will give to the college girl. Presentation matters.

  3. “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

    Then just leave the horse some water, so when he becomes thirsty, he can drink something.

    Some people give advice as if they are issuing a command. That’s not good because most people don’t want to be ordered around for no obvious reason. Rather, a better approach would be to treat the person as an equal and friend, then somewhere along the way mention the intended advice as if it were an option — not a command.

    For example, between these two personal trainers, who would you like better — and follow more willingly:

    • Personal trainer A says: “Give me 10 push-ups, 20 squats, and 3 minutes of jumping jacks!”
    • Personal trainer B says: “Hey, how are you? Today we are going to do 10 push-ups, 20 squats, and 3 minutes of jumping jacks. It’s gonna be fun!”

    Most people, would likely choose personal trainer B. Communicating what you want to happen in an ideal manner makes a big difference.

  4. “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”

    But suppose you’re a CEO of large company. Would you do the work of your managers, accountants, programmers, etc.?

    If you want something done right:

    1. Know specifically what you want to be done.
    2. Assign the task to a competent person.
    3. Communicate what you want to be done clearly to that person.
    4. If the assigned task is going to take a while before it’s finished, then monitor the progress of the person who’s doing the task.
    5. Once the task is finished, rejoice and thank that person for a job well-done.

    Simple isn’t it? Again, it’s a case for improving the way you communicate with other people.

  5. “When in Rome, do as the Romans.”

    I agree that we should respect the culture and customs of people who are different from us.

    But what if the people the people around you are doing immoral or stupid things, are you going to follow them?

    If you’re a smart and moral person, the answer is definitely “No.”

    In relation, I quote two great men:


    “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

    –Ralph Waldo Emerson


    “The opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.”

    –Rollo May


    But does it mean that we should become rebels who always does the opposite of what other people do? Definitely not. The point is for us to listen to our inner guide, which is our real-selves. Don’t simply do something because other people do it, too.

As I said earlier, these proverbs represent half-truths, which means they can be right at certain times, as well. So why did I challenged them? Because it’s fun. No, seriously (or half-seriously), it’s because most people believe in absolutes. It’s time we realize that a coin always has to two sides. Good Luck!

P.S. I would like to thank PhraseMix.com for providing a list of the most important English proverbs.

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