39 Spectacular Laurence J. Peter Quotes

Laurence J. Peter was a Canadian educator and hierarchiologist. He is best remembered for formulating ‘The Peter Principle’ in his 1968 publication. With almost a dozen works of writing, here is a look at some of the most memorable Laurence J. Peter quotes ever documented.

“A censor is an expert in cutting remarks. A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to.”

“A man doesn’t know what he knows until he knows what he doesn’t know.”

“A pessimist is a man who looks both ways when he crosses the street.”

“Against logic there is no armor like ignorance.”

“America is a country that doesn’t know where it is going but is determined to set a speed record getting there.”

“An economist is an expert who will know tomorrow why the things he predicted yesterday didn’t happen today.”


“An intelligence test sometimes shows a man how smart he would have been not to have taken it.”

“As individuals we tend to climb to our levels of incompetence. We behave as though up is better and more is better, and yet all around us we see the tragic victims of this mindless escalation.”

“Before publishers’ blurbs were invented, authors had to make their reputations by writing.”

“Bureaucracy defends the status quo long past the time when the quo has lost its status.”

“Education is a method whereby one acquires a higher grade of prejudices.”

“Equal opportunity means everyone will have a fair chance at being incompetent.”

“Given enough time—and assuming the existence of enough ranks in the hierarchy—each employee rises to, and remains at, his level of incompetence.”

“Good followers do not become good leaders.”

“He must examine his objectives and see that true progress is achieved through moving forward to a better way of life, rather than upward to total life incompetence.”

“Humility is the embarrassment you feel when you tell people how wonderful you are.”

“If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind, what is the significance of a clean desk?”

“If two wrongs don’t make a right, try three.”

“In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”

“In time, every post tends to be occupied by an employee who is incompetent to carry out its duties.”

“It is wise to remember that you are one of those who can be fooled some of the time.”

“Many a man, under the old and the new systems, has made the upward step from candidate to legislator, only to achieve his level of incompetence.”

“My problem is I say what I’m thinking before I think what I’m saying.”

“Nobody understands how the incessant pressure from above and the incurable incompetence below make it utterly impossible for me to do an adequate job and keep a clean desk.”

“Originality is the fine art of remembering what you hear but forgetting where you heard it.”

“Political success is the ability, when the inevitable occurs, to get credit for it.”

“Some problems are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them.”

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

“Speak when you are angry, and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever regret.”

“The best intelligence test is what we do with our leisure.”

“The incompetent with nothing to do can still make a mess of it.”

“The man who is always waving the flag usually waives what it stands for.”

“The man who says he is willing to meet you halfway is usually a poor judge of distance.”

“The problem with temptation is that you may not get another chance.”

“There are two kinds of failures: those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought.”

“Two things reduce prejudice: education and laughter.”

“Work is accomplished by those employees who have not yet reached their level of incompetence.”

“You can always tell a real friend: when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.”

“You don’t need to take a persons advice to make him feel good, just ask him for it.”

Here is a look at the Peter Principle and how to avoid it when it comes to leadership and making the the right choice with promoting employees.

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