Updated on 10.07.11

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #40

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.

I spent a lot of time looking at photos of autumn to help my kids with an art project. Several of them deeply impressed me with their artistry and capture of the season, so this edition is a bit heavy with those photographs.

1. Autumn dawn
This picture captures the essence of what dawn looked like in the fall in the area where I grew up.

Autumn dawn

The season is changing, but the world is alive. Thanks to James Jordan for this wonderful picture.

2. John Quincy Adams on leadership
What makes a leader? I don’t think that leadership is simply the nominal head of an organization. Instead, the leader is the person that makes an impact on others.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

The best leader I was ever around never formally headed up an organization in his life, yet he pushed a lot of people to be better than they were and he could have organized a lot of people to do something at a moment’s notice. Titles aren’t leadership.

3. PrintFriendly
I’ll admit that I often print off documents for reading in situations that aren’t conducive to electronic devices, plus there are times when I want to hand-annotate articles. PrintFriendly makes a wonderful printer-friendly version of any article you’ll find online. Just type in the URL and you’re good to go.

I love simple tools like this that just do one thing and do it well.

4. Ruins
When I was a child, there was an old abandoned boxcar on my parents land. It was fun to explore it as it was often full of weird old treasures, not altogether different than the type of thing you’d see on American Pickers. It was in a mostly wooded area, with a trail leading back to it.


Something about this picture put me strongly in mind of the old box car. Thanks to Nicholas T. for the evocative image.

5. Vince Lombardi on practice
You can practice a lot at something and still never get very good at it. What makes the difference is how you practice.

Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. – Vince Lombardi

You can spend years “practicing” anything and still be awful at it. The question is whether or not you constantly look to improve your performance with every bit of practice. Blind repetition is not enough.

6. Graham Hill on how having less stuff leads to more happiness
This is a correlation I’ve experienced in my own life, but Graham Hill spells it out wonderfully here.

I’d be perfectly happy with about a third of the stuff I have. The problem is that getting rid of a lot of it is a significant task in and of itself.

7. Wandering the pumpkin patch
This picture made me remember going out into a pumpkin patch when I was young and picking out that perfect pumpkin to carve up. There’d be a bit of chill in the air, meaning that when we got the pumpkin home and began to clean it out, the insides would be cold to the touch.

Duaflex: Alber Orchard

Many thanks to Matt Callow for another memory-stirring image.

8. Ramakhrisna on religion
I’ve reached a point where I don’t listen too much to people who say that religion forbids this or religion mandates that. It’s easy to talk a good game about religion. What separates people is whether they actually do it.

It is easy to talk on religion, but difficult to practice it. – Ramakrishna

So often, the words of the most outspoken followers of religion seem to have little to do with the actual teachings of that religion. I’d rather study the actual teachings, put them into practice in my own life, and generally keep quiet about it. Actions speak louder than words.

9. Branka Parlic playing Philip Glass’s Metamorphosis 1
I’ve been listening to some of the compositions of Philip Glass lately. This is a great example of his work.

It’s one of those pieces of music that just takes you to another place.

10. The leaf jump
Again, a childhood remembrance: I used to love taking giant leaps into piles of leaves.

Hurricane Matthew

This wonderful picture by Andrew Gillespie perfectly captures the childhood energy and nostalgia in this vintage photo. You can almost smell the Kodachrome.

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  1. Steven says:

    “The problem is that getting rid of a lot of it is a significant task in and of itself.”

    But if you continue to keep putting it off, it’s not going to get any easier…

  2. lurker carl says:

    For the most part, it’s far easier to get rid of someone else’s stuff than it is your own. No emotional attachments and memories get in the way of deciding what stays or goes.

  3. Shannon says:

    It’s “Ramakrishna” – please check the spelling of a person’s name when you quote them.

  4. almost there says:

    #3 Shannon, the name was spelled correctly after the quote just not in the subject line. More of I am the great blogger, we don’t need no stinkin’ editing.
    Also, yes most of us can all do with less in industrialized countries. But if more than 10 percent of the population did this the world economies would tank worse than they are now. Besides this more is less guy is most likely very wealthy from spouting his mantra. As all the successful frugal lifestyle type have gotten in the past two decades. Your 401k fund and investments don’t grow in a stagnant economy. So it is the case of let everyone consume but I will not and take advantage of expanding markets.

  5. Becca says:

    I watched a documentary on Phillip Glass which included much on his personal life. He has had an extraordinary career. The documentary was was made during the period of his third marriage. He married a much younger very attractive woman, had a couple kids with her but the marriage fell apart when the children were small. Mainly, it appears that even when he spent time with his family on “vacation” he was excessively absorbed by his various work projects. He struck me as a self-absorbed jerk who didn’t fully appreciate the gift he had as an older man who had another chance at fatherhood. Why is writing a symphony more absorbing and amazing than being with your own small children?
    Steve Jobs also regretted he had not been more “there” for his family.

  6. Rockledge says:

    I agree with the less is more philosophy. My husband and I bought a roomy house so my mom could have her own section and we’ve been happy with it, but my mom moved away (eloped, no less) and the extra space isn’t needed. Once the kids move out, we are planning on majorly downsizing.

    The sad thing I’m seeing right now is several elderly neighbors and relatives who are fretting about what to do with possessions that have meaning for them but no one else. It’s sad because in the last years of their lives they are worrying about what amounts to junk. It really bothers them. I hope by the time I’m that age, I have very few possessions. I don’t want to waste my last bit of life energy on them.

  7. Dee says:

    Thanks for the Print Friendly link. I often want to print articles I find and it sometimes takes a long time to clean it up so I don’t waste a bunch a paper.

  8. kristine says:

    Rockledge- I completely agree.

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