Ten Pieces of Inspiration #12

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. Rachel
Some of you long time readers may remember that a few years ago, I posted an article about a friend of mine named Rachel. The post was something of a conversation with her, where she outlined some of the difficult financial and personal choices that were involved with choosing a career in social work.

She’s still following that path with as much vigor as ever. I had a few conversations with her about it over this past week and it’s just inspiring to see someone with that kind of commitment and focus. Not only that, she’s managed to build a solid financial foundation for herself; she’s purchased a house on the income of a single social worker. How? Frugality.

2. Ralph Waldo Emerson on success
Who’s responsible for your success? Is “the man” or your situation holding you back? I don’t think that’s true.

“No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Succinctly stated. There’s no one responsible for your success or failure more than you are. In the end, it really is up to you and no one else.

3. Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus by Rick Perlstein
I’ve been devouring this book this week. The thing that stuns me is how much of it parallels today, except that everything is shifted substantially more to the right. The Democrats today sound, in many ways, like Goldwater sounded in 1964.

This is one of the best books on American history I’ve ever read and it’s stunning to me how many of the elements of the events in this book are shaping our world today.

4. Earl Scruggs and friends playing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”
This video is an amazing display of musicianship. Earl Scruggs the one at the start who plays a very, very difficult banjo solo without even looking down at his instrument.

I can’t even begin to describe how amazing this is to me. The years of skill that it took to pull something like that off and make it look so effortless is just stunning. The musicianship of everyone on that stage is just amazing. I can’t imagine how much fun playing with a group like that would be if you had the talent to keep up. I would want to do that every day for the rest of my life.

5. Frederick Robertson on improving yourself
What makes you happy and makes you great does not come from the outside. It comes from the inside. And, often, it’s not easy. It takes work.

“No one can be great, or good, or happy except through the inward efforts of themselves.” – Frederick Robertson

You can define what makes you happy or what makes you great, but you don’t just wake up one morning and decide that’s how it’s going to be. It takes time to grow yourself into the person you want to be.

6. Mark Bezos on opportunity
Mark Bezos is a volunteer firefighter who talks about opportunities and courage, big and small.

Life gives us a chance to prove ourselves over and over again, from sweeping a broom at work to every interaction you make with the people around us. Those chances often become powerful opportunities.

7. Elbert Hubbard on dignity and ignorance
It is often hard for anyone to admit when they don’t know something. To do that feels like an admission of failure or to be less of a person. Or at least it feels that way.

“Dignity is a mask we wear to hide our ignorance.” – Elbert Hubbard

I’ve come to find that the opposite is actually true. Almost every time I’ve admitted my own ignorance and said, “Okay, I don’t understand and I need your help,” people have been glad to help, I wind up with more than I ever thought possible, and they wind up feeling better about themselves and their own abilities, too.

Sometimes, it’s fine to admit that we simply don’t know.

8. A child’s focus
My youngest son, Matthew, is at that point of early toddlerhood where he’s learning on every front. He’s learning to crawl. He’s learning to make sensible words. He’s learning to pull himself up on things. He’s learning to use a spoon. He’s learning to walk.

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The inspiring part of this is that it’s not a matter of simply waking up one morning and being able to walk. He’s trying very hard every day, over and over again, to accomplish these things. He’s constantly trying to crawl in order to reach things. He’s pulling himself up over and over again on various things. He’s constantly babbling and repeating syllables that we express approval of, like “ballaagaboladadada…” “Good! I’m da-da!” “Da da da da da da!”

It’s constant effort and he’s so persistent with it that it makes me want to be as persistent with my own goals.

9. Wayne Dyer on abundance
This is an eloquent way of making the point that having “enough” isn’t a state of possessions, it’s a state of mind.

“Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into.” – Wayne Dyer

It’s easy for me to sometimes feel like I don’t have all the things I want. Then I think about my wife and my kids and realize that I have plenty.

10. Noreena Hertz on using experts
When do you use the opinion of an expert or use your own judgment? This video offers some great thoughts.

Experts are advisors, not people to simply follow.