Ten Pieces of Inspiration #23

Each week, I highlight ten things each week that inspired me to greater financial, personal, and professional success. Hopefully, they will inspire you as well.

1. Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
I re-read Emerson’s wonderful classic essay Self-Reliance again this week, and again I found it digging deep into my soul.

The Simple Dollar is as much about self-reliance as it is about personal finance. In fact, managing your money is just one particular flavor of self-reliance, and being self-reliant in other areas makes managing your money easier.

Many of the quotes you’ll find in this week’s pieces of inspiration are straight from this essay.

We must always learn to walk before we can ever learn to run, and we must learn to stand on our own two feet before we can begin to walk.

2. Ann-Marie Thomas on teaching children in interesting ways
This type of thing is hugely inspiring to me as a parent who tinkers and loves teaching his children about science and technology.

Yes, my three year old daughter made an electrical circuit. I wish I had a picture of it.

You can read tons of details about squishy circuits on the squishy circuits project page.

3. Emerson on nonconformity
Why be like anyone else?

Whoso would be a man, must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness. Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself and you shall have the sufferage of the world. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. In the end, all the influences of the outside world don’t matter because, in the end, you’re left with nothing but your own thoughts. If you fill your life with being what others want you to be, what are you left with in the end?

4. Frank Sinatra singing Fly Me to the Moon
He’s one of my favorite singers ever, and this is a very good performance.

Why do I like him so much? He makes something very difficult look incredibly easy, as if he just strolled out there, grabbed a microphone, and just made it happen. It’s resting on a stupendous amount of practice and vocal training. His phrasing and his ability to make you understand every syllable along the way while making it all feel completely at ease and natural is just stunning.

5. Emerson on making up your own mind
It is very easy to be influenced by and often completely drawn into the ideas and opinions of those around you. It’s not the best route, though.

It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude after own own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Seek out your own answers. Read from and listen to many different sources. Don’t just copy what everyone else thinks to get along.

6. Kurosawa’s Crows (1990)
Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa wrote and directed a film in 1990 called Dreams. One segment of this film, Crows, depicts a person becoming lost inside of a van Gogh painting.

Amazing. Thanks to the multiple readers who have shared this with me over the past few weeks.

7. Emerson on trusting yourself
If it seems wrong, it probably is.

Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string. Accept the place the divine providence has found for you, the society of your contemporaries, the connection of events. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

I know that when I do something wrong, I either feel nothing or I sense that it’s wrong. When I do something right, though, I feel it all over. I get pinpricks on my cheeks and a warm feeling in my belly.

8. RescueTime
If you’ve ever worked at a job with significant computer time and wondered where all of your time went, RescueTime is pretty much a must-have.

It shows you exactly how much time you’re wasting at your desk (identifying time-wasting websites and tracking how long you spend on them) and has other tools that help you block out distractions.

I’ve started using it and it’s helped tremendously with productivity during the day.

9. Emerson on living for yourself
What are you living for?

I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is for itself and not for a spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, then that it should be glittering and unsteady. I wish it to be sound and sweet, and not to need diet and bleeding. – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If you want a lower stress life, start making choices that lead to a lower stress life. If you want a life with abundance, stop making choices that squeeze all of the time and money you have. If you want something, don’t constantly make choices that counteract that something.

10. Asimov on self-education
All education boils down to self-education.

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is. – Isaac Asimov

If a student does not care and does not wish to learn for themselves, no teacher in the world will stuff ideas into that mind. Education works if the student is willing and it does not if the student is not willing. Are you willing to learn? If you’re a parent, are you creating an environment where your children are willing to learn?

If you enjoyed reading this, sign up for free updates!

Loading Disqus Comments ...
Loading Facebook Comments ...

8 thoughts on “Ten Pieces of Inspiration #23

  1. I started teaching Emerson a few years ago…truly a gift to the teacher. I’ve written about him a bit too.

  2. Johanna says:

    I enjoyed the Sinatra clip. Singing with “natural-sounding” vocal inflection really is difficult, because when we sing, the natural tendency is to overemphasize the vowels and underemphasize the consonants, compared to when we talk. Not that that’s always a bad thing (or that natural-sounding inflection is always a good thing), but it’s a big part of why Sinatra sings the way he does and most other people don’t.

  3. Paul says:

    Part of the problem with nonconformity (#3) is that too many people think it means finding what’s conformist and doing the exact opposite. The “hipster” mentality. When you realize that listening to Tyler Durden is as unsatisfying as listening to Baden-Powell, all you’re left with is actually developing your own opinions. But that’s not so bad.

  4. David says:

    Sinatra, if reliable sources are to be believed, had almost no “vocal training” at all. He was able to sing “Fly Me To The Moon” as well as he did in 1969 because he had been singing for a living since 1929, and because he could sing very well before that. The notion that if only you had a “stupendous amount of vocal training and practice” you too could sing like Sinatra is… well, it is nonsense, and not particularly inspiring. Well it was said by the bard:

    The match of Hell and Heaven was a nice
    Idea of Blake’s but won’t take place, alas.
    You can choose either, but you can’t choose twice,
    You can’t, at least in this world, change your class.
    Neither is alpha-plus, though both will pass,
    And don’t imagine you can write like Dante,
    Dive like your nephew, crochet like your auntie.

  5. SwingCheese says:

    I’m with Paul: Sinatra didn’t have much vocal training when he began to sing. He was one of those rare people with an incredible amount of talent (when it came to singing) just oozing out of him. It is very difficult to sing like he did, and it would be difficult to train yourself to sing like he did. Now, that having been said, Sinatra did spend time working on improving the technical aspects of his singing voice throughout his career, and so his singing did improve. But some people just have a gift in one area or another, and he was one of those people. He didn’t have to work that hard at his singing. And I agree with you, Trent: he has a beautiful voice, and I love listening to him.

  6. SwingCheese says:

    Oops – I guess I agree with David, although I liked Paul’s comment about hipsters and Tyler Durden :)

  7. Johanna says:

    @David: Maybe we’re arguing about definitions again, but how is 40 years of doing something for a living not “a stupendous amount of training and practice”? I agree that it’s nonsense to say that anyone can sing like Sinatra with enough training and practice (although…I don’t think Trent said that) or that anyone who’s good at anything has made “stupendous” sacrifices to get where they are. However, even someone with a natural gift for singing (or anything else) can benefit a lot from time spent honing that talent. You don’t have to find that inspiring, but I do.

  8. Genny says:

    I was not aware until now that Frank Sinatra actually wrote a book on vocal practice back in the 40s …I won’t post a link but google “Sinatra and Vocal Practice”. The introduction talks about the kinds of training and practice that he advocated for aspiring singers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>