Updated on 05.27.11

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #21

Trent Hamm

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. An afternoon at the park
I came across this picture from last spring that shows my wife and my two oldest children playing together at the park on a beautiful spring day. These are the types of moments that make my life happy.

At the park

(And, for those wondering, Sarah’s shirt says “Self-Rescuing Princess” – I’ve been asked a few times about her unusual t-shirts that pop up in pictures now and again.)

2. O Captain, My Captain by Robert Frost
This is a poem of sacrifice, but also of great reward.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done, The ship has weather’d every rack,
the prize we sought is won, The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring; But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells; Rise up- for you the flag is flung- for
you the bugle trills,

For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths- for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will,
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

3. The hidden power of smiling
This video does a great job of outlining the value of a smile in scientific terms. It has a multitude of benefits, both for you and for those around you.

4. Antony Jay on training for leadership
This quote sums up why I constantly encourage people to step up to the plate and take leadership in almost any situation.

The only real training for leadership is leadership. – Antony Jay

If you want to be a good leader, you have to start with just being a leader.

5. Water grafitti
This is something I used to do as a child, taken to a wonderful artistic level.

I absolutely love street art, except I don’t like the long-term destruction of private property. This seems to be a great way to execute the beauty of street art without damage.

6. Metaphors by Sylvia Plath
This just works on so many levels.

I’m a riddle in nine syllables,
An elephant, a ponderous house,
A melon strolling on two tendrils.
O red fruit, ivory, fine timbers!
This loaf’s big with its yeasty rising.
Money’s new-minted in this fat purse.
I’m a means, a stage, a cow in calf.
I’ve eaten a bag of green apples,
Boarded the train there’s no getting off.

Is there meaning there, buried in metaphors, or is the burying the meaning itself? I love it.

7. Sandra Carey on knowledge and wisdom
A good thought.

Never mistake knowledge for wisdom. One helps you make a living; the other helps you make a life. – Sandra Carey

Wisdom is the utilization of knowledge for good use. Without wisdom, knowledge isn’t really all that useful.

8. On being wrong
This video sums up the most powerful way to grow.

9. Will Rogers on spending choices
Each of the elements of this quote points to a problem many have with money.

Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like. – Will Rogers

So true and so succinct.

10. Someone playing a piano solo of The Sound of Silence
I love watching videos of people playing the piano on YouTube. They’re probably the most effective tool for getting me to actually practice. This is just a great example.

Fantastic. I look forward to the day when I’m able to do that, and I can see myself slowly inching in that direction.

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  1. kjc says:

    Your two older children, not “two oldest.”

    “O Captain! My Captain!” is Walt Whitman, not Frost (does this SOUND like Frost to you?!?!) and was written after President Lincoln’s assassination.

    I’m intrigued by your description of the Sylvia Plath poem, but can’t be sure you get it. Spoiler alert: these are metaphors for pregnancy.

  2. Angie says:

    kjc – another literature major in our midst? good catches on all 3 points you make.

  3. Steven says:

    kjc – Funny, I read that too and just spent the better part of my morning learning about eldest vs oldest, as T’s wording sounded strange… apparently, eldest isn’t correct either (???)

    Steven (who is NOT an English major)

  4. Amy says:

    Speaking of not getting things, I think such a snarky comment on a post about inspiration might fall in that category.

    On another note, I love the self rescuing princess T.

  5. Andrew says:

    It is not snarky to point out that Trent got the poem’s author wrong–and if you know anything about Plath the pregnancy metaphors are incredibly obvious.

  6. David says:

    “Elder” is, according to the OED:

    The comparative of “old” (adj.); formerly equivalent to the modern “older” (adj. and n.), but now restricted to certain special uses.

    That is: “elder” and “older” were at one time regarded more or less as interchangeable, but nowadays “elder” is used only in specific contexts. However, the clever men at Oxford go on to say:

    Now chiefly with ns. denoting family relationship, or as denoting the senior of two indicated persons; otherwise somewhat arch.

    That is: one of the “special uses” sanctioned by the Dictionary is precisely in describing family relationships. (For the benefit of any non-English-majors who may have wandered in, “arch.” in the above is an abbreviation for “archaic”; it does not mean that the use of “elder” is “clever, cunning, crafty, roguish, waggish”.)

    Hence, it is not wrong in the least to speak of one’s “elder” or “eldest” children. Moreover, when a man has two sons his older son is also his oldest son, and his elder son is also his eldest son. Those who would (and frequently and foolishly do) argue otherwise give us pedants a bad name that we do not deserve.

  7. Erica says:

    Regarding #5…

    We recently moved from San Francisco back to the midwest (the right choice for our family right now, but difficult nonetheless). I wanted to mention that one of the ways to have street art without long-term destruction of private property is… to stop considering street art destruction of private property. San Francisco is rich with gorgeous street art partially because property owners are involved and invite work on their walls, supported by the city and neighborhoods.

    I’m not an authority on the situation there, so I may well be missing pieces, but I’d certainly like to see a move toward more (permanent and semi-permanent) street art. :)

  8. karishma says:

    I don’t know anything about Sylvia Plath (yet – on to Wikipedia!), but pregnancy was the clear image brought to my mind by her metaphors.

    However, I had my husband read through it, and got “I don’t get it.” So maybe it’s a male-female thing why Trent didn’t get it either.

  9. Kate says:

    Andrew: pointing out the wrong poet name isn’t snarky. Adding “(does this SOUND like Frost to you?!?!)” is what, in my eyes, definitely moves it into the snarky column. All caps indicates that you are yelling and the ?!?! indicates that you are cussing about how stupid someone is to get a poet’s name wrong.

  10. Rachel says:

    @Kate #9–
    Multiple question and exclamation marks do NOT indicate cussing. They are merely repetitive and mean the writer is incredulous on top of questioning and exclaiming. Cussing is usually indicated by a broader range of symbols and is usually limited to those found above the number keys that top the QWERTY keyboard (of which the exclamation point is one, but the question mark is not–probably because if someone wishes to indicate cussing, s/he is certain that cussing is what s/he wishes to do, not unsure, as a question mark would suggest).

  11. David says:

    Oh, capital letters and multiple punctuation marks are certainly not curses. What they are, though, is an indication of the writer’s snarky incredulity that anyone could be so inferior as to confuse the poetry of Walt Whitman with the poetry of Robert Frost merely from the “sound”. To that extent I agree entirely with Kate, and would (in keeping with the inspirational spirit of this post) commend to general attention these words by the bard:

    For years, a secret shame destroyed my peace –
    I’d not read Eliot, Auden, or MacNeice.
    But now, I think a thought that brings me hope –
    Neither had Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Pope…

  12. Kate says:

    Thanks, Rachel! All this time I thought I was cussing and I was merely being repetitive. What a @!#$*)^%#!@$%&* idiot I’ve been! :o)

  13. Vanessa says:

    Trent comes across as a bit of a literary connoisseur (if that’s the correct word). He’s expressed his love of classic novels on several occasions and prides himself on regularly reading books on a wide range of topics. The poster probably thought with Trent’s background (writer + avid reader) he should’ve known the difference between Whitman and Frost. I don’t think that’s a huge conclusion to leap to.

    I’m just glad I read the comments before the article.

  14. Kerry D. says:

    Personally, I’m horrified that the author of the poem was incorrectly attributed… that is a significant error, in any situation, and especially in the context of a writer and in a post highlighting particularly inspirational works.

  15. Dena Shunra says:

    Thank you for putting that great poem in the first inspiring item, one of my favorites.

    I came across it in the Dead Poet’s Society, which happened to come out just after I had suffered a devastating loss of leadership. I think Robin Williams’ discussion of the poem – and of poetry, in general – were big parts of inspiration and eventual healing.

    Bless you for bringing it up.

  16. kristine says:

    Kerry- I am with you. This site would be exponentially better with an intern to do fact checking, research, and proofing. I could definitely not get away with these kinds of mistakes at any job I have ever had. But then that’s the beauty of self-employment-no performance reviews! (Except the comment section.)

    I come here mostly for the comments- an interesting and diverse group of people committed to the responsible use of money.

  17. SwingCheese says:

    Although I, too, know very little about Sylvia Plath, it was immediately obvious to me that she was referring to metaphors about pregnancy. But then again, I have a a dear friend who is currently pregnant, a pregnant neighbor, and two year old at home, so my own pregnancy (towards the end of which, I most definitely felt like “a cow in calf”) is a fairly recent memory. But I agree – this could be a male/female thing.

  18. AnnJo says:

    A little detail that reinforces the pregnancy theme of Plath’s poem: It consists of nine lines of nine syllables each.

  19. Georgia says:

    Why in the world would you know this poem was about pregnancy unless someone told you? It just sounded like a weird bunch of words to me. I can’t see where it is at all significant.

    And – I have been pregnant twice and have lived for 74 years. I guess I find it hard to understand how people can read, write, quote stuff that is supposed to be inspirational when it’s just a jumble of words.

    I guess I won’t tell you any I think are great. You’d probably laugh. I guess I’m also bad because I could not tell from the quote who wrote it-Whitman or Frost. I’ve been out of school for years. Didn’t you guys listen to the TED deal on being wrong? Guess you missed that point also?

  20. Allie says:

    But Georgia, because you know you don’t know the author, you would likely have looked it up before posting it.

    What’s under attack here is not the “not knowing,” but the “failure to take less than a minute to confirm information before posting it, thereby weakening trust in anything else he might post.”

    Also, my comment from early Monday morning is still in moderation. No links or anything. I just tried it again and I suspect it will remain in eternal moderation.

  21. Justin says:

    ….. yeah I have no idea how that poem is full of metaphors about pregnancy. So maybe it is a guy thing to be confused about it

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