When you come right down to it, Social Media is just about people. All of the talking we do about strategy, how to engage, how to interact – it’s just all people stuff. Because of this, most advice that you get for the offline world can be applied quite easily to the online world. With this in mind, and on the suggestion of Kaarina Dillabough, I decided to survey some of the great figures of the past to see what wisdom of theirs could help us out in the online world today. Here is what I came up with!

1. Franklin D. Roosevelt: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In the world of Social Media, people will not just gravitate towards you unless you’ve already developed quite a reputation. Fear can prevent you from writing that first blog post, tweeting that first tweet, or creating that company page on Facebook. But it is only fear that can truly get in your way online. Once you take that first step, you can put your reins around your online world and move forward however you want to go. Geting past that fear is the single most important step you can take.

2. Buddha: “Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind.” We have talked about this a lot here on my site. You never know the whole story, and thus you should not frown upon what others accomplish. They may have overcome a lot more than you realize. If you are always lusting after the success of others, you will never be content.

3. Helen Keller: “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” Often, there is a feeling in the online world that you need to write the next great viral blog post or that you need to do something that will earn you 5 million followers. However, if you approach everything you do with the idea that it is all significant, you will find joy with much greater ease.

4. The Prophet Muhammad: “Say what is true, although it may be bitter and displeasing to people.” This is a tough one these days in the online world. There seems to be a fair amount of debate about what is offering truth and what is making an attack. You must use your own moral compass for these questions, but truth presented with genuine care is the combination I think works best.

5. Queen Elizabeth I: “I pray to God that I shall not live one hour after I have thought of using deception.” It is easy, so easy, to start a little fire of a rumor or lie online that could make a person miserable. It would be easy to tear a person down so that you yourself could rise up. But could you live with that weight? Queen Elizabeth reckoned she could not.

6. Mother Theresa: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” I firmly believe that the online world could do a lot more to help the world. Word can travel so fast, and a difference can be made with a click of the mouse. However, I think sometimes people feel that whatever they could would not be enough. Mother Theresa’s words remind me that anything is better than nothing.

7. Jim Henson: “There’s not a word yet, for old friends who’ve just met.” This song is from Muppets Take Manhattan, and I always get teary-eyed as soon as I think of the song. I just had the privilege of meeting Lisa Petrilli, Sean McGinnis, and Lisa Diomede in the offline world and though it was our first in-person meeting, it was as if we just hadn’t seen each other for awhile. We do need a word for that, don’t we?

8. Jesus Christ: “He who lives by the sword shall die by the sword.” This is an important reminder for the online and offline world. If your reputation is based on snark and insults alone, you will eventually meet your match. Many religions have sayings that mirror this exact sentiment.

9. Florence Nightingale: “I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions which bring results.” This may seem like odd advice for the online world. I’m not saying that using words online is a waste of time, but rather I would say that if you cannot act on what you are saying, those words may be better suited to wait in the locker room.

10. Albert Einstein: “Anyone who doesn’t take truth seriously in small matters cannot be trusted in large ones either.” Many people shrug off how they act in the online world. It’s their blog, it’s their Twitter account, plus the Freedom of Speech reigns supreme. However, if you cannot be trusted to keep yourself under control in the online world, why would someone trust you to remain under control in a business or other offline situation? Something to ponder.

11. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Often times, a blogger will get very frustrated when people in the comments section disagree. When there is a lack of consensus, the blogger may start to snark at people or start to argue with a fair amount of rancor. This quote from the great Dr. King reminds us that agreement can be achieved and it can be molded, but I would add that molding a sculpture takes patience and a gentle touch more often than not.

12. Tecumseh: “A single twig breaks, but the bundle of twigs is strong.” While much of what we do in the online world is done on our own, we would not get very far if we tried to do all of this without the support of a community behind and around us.

13. Elie Wiesel: “When a person doesn’t have gratitude, something is missing in his or her humanity. A person can almost be defined by his or her attitude toward gratitude.” It’s very easy in the online world to focus on the negatives, whether it’s things in our own lives or sentiments we have about others. But there is so much good that happens *just* in the online world. So many acts of kindness are extended. A failure to show gratitude is a true loss for a person and all who surround him or her.

14. Harriet Beecher Stowe: “Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” You see this wisdom from many different people across the eras of history, and many have seen it to be true. Just when you are ready to give up, that is when the greatest success can come. If you are feeling ready to give up on your blog or some other aspect of your Social Media presence, hang in there. It will get better if you stick with it.

15. Abraham Lincoln: “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Of course I had to end things with my man Abraham. So often people talk about how people who claim to be Social Media “experts” prove themselves to be otherwise. Many times, the person who is able to sit back and learn is the one you want to keep your eye on. The people who say they already know everything – they’re the ones you want to evaluate a bit more closely before entrusting them with any major task.

So there you have it – a survey of 15 people from the past whose wisdom applies to Social Media today as much as it applied to their worlds when they uttered the words.

Now my question for you is – whose wisdom would you add to this list? I’d love to see your contributions!

First Image by Ivan Prole. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/iprole

Second Image by kristian stokholm. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/krilm