Ten Pieces of Inspiration #47

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. Emerson on the core of things
If you’ve been reading these inspiration columns for a while, you know that I hold the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson in high esteem. There is so much in what he’s written that’s inspired me to become a better, more self-reliant person. This is just another example:

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The more you work to improve yourself, the better your life will naturally be. This doesn’t just mean working for work’s sake, but actually striving to become something better.

2. Sign Up Genius’s Pot Luck Manager
A while back, I was planning a potluck dinner. I was trying to organize what everyone would bring and I couldn’t help but think that there had to be a better way to do this online.

Unsurprisingly, there is. This tool simply does it. You designate what you want people to bring (appetizers, desserts, side dishes, etc.), put in a list of names and emails, and the tool does everything else. People just visit the form, state what they’re going to bring, and you can see it all on one page. The tool even sends out reminders as the date approaches.

I love tools that just directly solve a problem like this.

3. Meditation by HaPe Gera
This picture simultaneously made me feel relaxed and also made me want to be in that place.

meditation

It reminds me so much of early mornings fishing with my father when I was in high school. Those moments were so peaceful.

4. Dreams by Langston Hughes
Without a dream to hold onto, without a goal to move towards, what is there?

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

Part of the beauty of life is to want something yet unclaimed.

5. Vincent van Gogh on things great and small
Whenever something seems overwhelmingly big, it’s worth keeping in mind that even the greatest things are made up of lots of little pieces.

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh

It’s the willingness to keep focused and keep bringing all of those little manageable things together that makes great things.

6. Benjamin Wallace on whether happiness has a price tag
Expensive versions of things are often not even comparable to the everyday versions of things. For example, if you try authentic Kobe beef, it’s so rich that it’s more comparable to something like foie gras than actual beef. Chasing something expensive, that “holy grail” that you think will be so great, often turns out to be nothing like you expected.

There’s a pretty fascinating story about wine embedded in there, too.

7. Nolan Bushnell on doing something
Nolan Bushnell founded Atari and played a huge role in jump-starting the video game industry in the United States.

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.” – Nolan Bushnell

We all have dreams. The person that succeeds is the person that actually does something towards those dreams.

8. Claude Monet’s Morning at Antibes (1888)
At the place where my father and I often fished in the early mornings, one could see a city across the river. When I saw this painting, it reminded me so clearly of those mornings.

Claude Monet: Morning at Antibes (1888)

The sun is freshly up, that city is stirring, but you’re far enough away to enjoy your own seclusion. Beautiful.

9. Jeff Bezos on reputation
Reputation isn’t about impressing others.

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well.” – Jeff Bezos

All you have to do is take on challenges and do your best at them. Do that often enough, and not only do you build your own skills, you build a pretty powerful reputation for yourself, too.

10. The Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime
I listened to this song so many times throughout my life that I can’t possibly even give a guess, but I know that the words have struck me in different ways when I was six, when I was fourteen, when I was twenty-two, and now.

How did I get here?

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  1. Andrew says:

    Yes! Talking Heads are the best, and “Once in a Lifetime” is the best of the best.

    Also try Tina Weymouth’s offshoot group, Tom Tom Club. Great stuff.

  2. Jules says:

    Benjamin Wallace is right, that the most expensive things aren’t necessarily the best or the greatest for everybody. But on the other hand, I have to wonder how much of his disappointments were due to not knowing what to expect. I mean, if you ordered Kobe Beef with the expectation of getting something like foie gras, then you’d probably have been delighted with Wolfgang Puck’s offering.

  3. Steven says:

    I’m willing to pay for quality. The cheapest isn’t always the best value. It’s important to weigh the options, and pick whichever works best for you and your situation.

    The recurring message that paying for luxury/expensive things is somehow less virtuous than pinching pennies is silly. How often are frugal people criticized as being cheap, miserly, boring, etc. by people who you might consider to be frivolous? Why is it acceptable to do the reverse? If people can afford to purchase these things, who are we to judge them for their choice? We might think it’s wasteful, but if it brings these people satisfaction, who cares?

    If I could afford a 1.5 million dollar car, I’d drive one. I don’t drink, so I couldn’t care less about the wines. A $30,000 a night hotel room? Not on my list of things to do…but if I could afford it, why not?

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