Have you ever thought about the possibility of using single words to spark ideas about managing well, both in the business world and in your personal lives? 300 Dictums lists and defines verbs that describe actions, which can provoke results. Use 300 Dictums to help inspire some of your own thoughts that will make you more effective in managing your business as well as your life.


TAYLOR JONES SAYS: 300 Dictums by J. Robert Parkinson is a fascinating book. He gives action verbs a whole new meaning by making them motivational and inspirational. It’s impossible, at least for me to rate the book, as I don’t think there are any other books even close to it to compare it to. So let me just say that whether you are writing, or simply looking for inspiration and motivation to improve your life, this is a very handy book to have. You’ll want to keep it close and refer to it often.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: 300 Dictums by J. Robert Parkinson is a reference book of the first order. The premise of the book is to spark ideas using action verbs or action words and listing their inspirational and motivational definitions. This handy reference guide is a must for authors, speech writers, or anyone who wants or needs to use words that will inspire and motivate themselves and others, making them more effective in both their business and personal communications. The book is jam-packed with ideas to help you get the most out of our language. As reference books go, this one is on the top of the heap.

A few years ago, I coauthored a book titled, Becoming a Successful Manager. As the name suggests it focused on suggestions and techniques newly appointed managers can use to carry out their new responsibilities. The book includes a wide variety of anecdotes, stories, and exercises to provide guidance and to avoid problems with a new job.

Last year I authored another book titled, Mottoes for Managing in which I used “one-liners” to serve as thinking points for effective managing. Then I thought about the possibility of using single words to spark ideas about managing well – managing both in the business world and in personal lives.

This book, 300 Dictums, is the result. Every one of the three hundred entries is deliberately short – only a few sentences.

My intent is to suggest the action, then give a brief “jump-start” to thinking about the implications of the action verb. I went for an economy of words because a single word can evoke multiple thoughts. I selected “verbs” rather than other parts of speech because verbs describe actions and actions provoke results, which have consequences.

Why three hundred items? It seemed to be a good compromise. When I started writing this book, I considered doing 365 entries – one for every day if the year.

Seemed reasonable.

But since the verbs are focused primarily on work-related activities, and we all know that no one works every day of the year, I calculated actual workdays per year. Counting holidays and vacations, that came to about 200 days.

So I looked for a nice round number between the 200 workdays and the 365 total days. Three hundred seemed to make sense, so that’s what I picked.

That’s as good a reason as any I can think of, and I hope the verbs I have selected will provoke some of your own thoughts. That will expand the ultimate impact of this book.

I hope you find these thoughts interesting and valuable.


Most people start to read a book just the way you did – at the beginning. That makes good sense because you have to start somewhere, and it’s logical to flip open the front cover and begin. But now I’d like to suggest something different. These verbs are arranged in alphabetical order, but that was only so I’d be able to avoid duplication. I had to know what verbs were already included as I worked thought the entire text. All the letters of the alphabet are not equally represented – in fact some are missing entirely.

But, don’t read them in alphabetical order!

Don’t just turn page after page and then read left to right, top to bottom. That works for most books because a planned sequence is necessary in many books. Not this one.

You decide the order. Be random.

This book is designed to be an exploration of ideas, and like all explorations, pick the route that seems to make the most sense to you. Move from idea to idea, unconstrained by typical book-reading conventions. Jump around. As you skip from page to page and idea to idea, you’ll discover some similarities from item to item. That’s not only okay, but also it’s important to realize these similarities in business and family life.

No two items are exactly alike, just as no two situations at home or on the job are exactly alike. To help you hop, skip, and jump through the book, and to help you overcome the old habit of rereading from page one to the end, I’d like to suggest something for fun as well as for discipline.

Don’t, under any circumstances or for any reason, read the page following this section. When you finish this brief section, flip to somewhere in the middle of the book. When you find that page, don’t read the top item. Read something else.

This might seem a little strange – and perhaps a little silly – but I’d like you to grab on to an idea and then just think about it for a while. Consider how the idea might affect your life and your work. The entries are deliberately short, so you can scan them quickly and then add your own ideas.

I hope my ideas and suggestions will spark some of yours. Let that spark ignite and burn. Both light and heat will be the result of this exercise.

As you work your way through the book in this manner, you might revisit an item you have already read. That, too, is okay because reading it a second or third time could produce a different idea in your mind – a different spark and a different flame.

So let’s give it a try. Turn to a page somewhere well into the book. Don’t read the top item, read something else. Then read subsequent pages in whatever sequence you select.

But remember – for fun and for the discipline – don’t read the next page.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this book. When you have read all three hundred items, go to the last page for a final wrap up.

© 2014 by J. Robert Parkinson