Ten Pieces of Inspiration #2

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. The Social Network
I finally had the opportunity to see this movie this week and it was as good as I thought it would be, if not better. It’s about the founding of Facebook, but it’s not really about the founding of Facebook. It’s about how the nature of communication between people is changing. It’s about how young people who have never lived without instant communication with others are dealing with early adulthood. Even more relevant (in terms of watchability), the dialogue is incredibly crisp and the plot manages to have a lot of depth without losing the thread. I wish I could write a tenth as well as Aaron Sorkin. The Social Network is my favorite film since The Prestige came out in 2006.

2. Amy Dacyczyn on frugality and creativity
Frugality without creativity is deprivation.
– Amy Dacyczyn, author of The Tightwad Gazette

Frugality isn’t about going without things. It’s about constantly trying new things and seeing if you can find a better way of doing them rather than just using the first method that you stumble across. Let’s be honest – that first method is usually pretty inefficient in terms of money and in terms of time. Think about your professional field – are you not more efficient now than you were when you first started? That’s because you tried new things whether you wanted to or not. Use that willingness to try new things in your own life, with a recognition that spending less is a positive attribute, and you’ve got frugality.

3. Where I want to live

fair weather friends

This picture makes me yearn for spring and it makes me yearn to live in the country again. I want to live here. Many thanks to Ed Karjala for this wonderful picture.

4. A five year old’s dream
My son woke up a few mornings ago and told me about the dream he just had. I liked it so much that I wrote it down:

You and me and Mom and Katie and Matthew were at the park and there was a very tall slide and Matthew was scared to go down it. So I went down it with him and at the bottom there was a big pile of grass and all of us jumped in it and then we had ice cream

I hope I can always make things like that happen in their lives.

5. Duane Elgin on impact
“It is the example of each person’s life, much more than his or her words, that speaks with power. Even the smallest action done with a loving appreciation of life can profoundly touch other human beings.”
– Duane Elgin

Whenever you say something or do something, even when you’re alone, you’re affecting others. Your choice of words and choice of actions impacts the people around you. Think of all of the human behaviors and statements you’ve heard and witnessed today. How many have impacted you on some level? (More than you think, I’ll guarantee you.) How many of those actions and statements were done with the other person realizing you’d observe them or be impacted by them? Not too many, I’ll bet. Now, think of how often others are impacted by what you do, even the minor things.

We all have much more impact on others than we realize. The more positive signals we put out there, the better the world gets.

6. Steven Hyden on the moment of discovery
“I always hate that moment in documentaries about social movements where somebody insists that whatever incredibly exciting and revolutionary phenomenon they were a part of could never happen again, because the world has inevitably changed for the worse, and today’s kids are just too jaded or clueless to do what they did. What they’re really saying is that it will never happen for them again, because they’ve reached the age where they’re too jaded and clueless. When you’re young, whatever you’re doing feels revolutionary because the world is opening up for you in ways that will never be more exciting than they are right now, in this moment, forever and ever.”
– Steven Hyden, Whatever Happened to Alternative Nation

This idea, that the jadedness that people tend to describe younger people with as they get older is actually just a reflection of their own aging jadedness, made me think quite a lot over this past week. I think there’s some deep truth to the idea that nothing is ever as exciting as it is the first time you discover it. You just can’t replicate those great moments of discovery.

So how do you keep the world fresh? Keep trying new things and new ideas. To me, this quote ties in strangely well with the Amy Dacyczyn quote above.

7. PARK(ing)
I would absolutely love to share this picture with you, but thanks to copyright issues, you have to click over to Flickr to see it.

The image is a piece of street art by Banksy, in which he modified the word PARKING by nearly erasing the “-ING” to just leave the word “PARK,” then stenciled a girl swinging off of the bottom of the word.

The vandalism issues of street art aside, I admire well-done and thoughtful art, and Banksy typically manages to pull off both. This is one of my favorites.

8. “Wordless” children’s books
A few days ago, I picked up a few completely wordless books to read to my children. Each page has a piece of art that is in someway related to the page before it. This basically puts the onus of storytelling on the reader.

Because of this, I’ve been telling a lot of stories the past few days. I tell more complex ones to our oldest son and daughter and very simple ones to our infant son. The oldest has even started doing this himself, telling simple stories to his baby brother.

Writing and telling stories are wonderful things to do.

9. PianoReimagined‘s Youtube videos
His piano playing videos have given me a lot of inspiration. I’ve particularly enjoyed his piano-only takes on two songs I’ve been working on.

U2’s “Beautiful Day”…

… and Coldplay’s “Clocks”

I love his passion and obvious enjoyment of the music. Yes, he’s playing by ear, while I’m learning to sight read, but I someday hope to be able to sit down and play a few songs from memory halfway as well.

10. Mario Cortes on personal growth
“You can get sympathy or you can get better but you can’t get both. You can be in your comfort zone or you can have growth, but you can’t have both. You can be interested or you can be sold-out-committed, but you can’t entertain both. You can have excuses or have results, but you can’t do both. Choose the path that develops your visceral fortitude.”
– Mario Cortes

Sympathy and excuses are just ways to keep you from having to face a challenge. Avoid them like the plague.

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