Updated on 01.27.12

Ten Pieces of Inspiration #57

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. Rodin on what’s worth doing
Everything is worth doing if you approach it right.

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” – Auguste Rodin

The challenge always is figuring out ways to actually use the experience wisely. If you view the world from this perspective, life itself is a constant path toward self-improvement.

2. Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on female entrepreneurship
I have sent this video to a lot of people this week.

No one should ever be afraid to show the world what they can do.

3. Dale Carnegie on perseverance
The number one ingredient for succeeding at anything is simply sticking with it. That’s where the vast majority of people who try something fail.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all.” – Dale Carnegie

The Simple Dollar would have never succeeded if I did not stick with blogging for years and years, through thick and thin.

4. The Yellow Flowers (1902) by Henri Matisse
I love how impressionist paintings are much like a faded memory. To me, they elicit something much deeper than a photograph.

[ M ] Henri Matisse - The Yellow Flowers (1902)

It feels like the closest I’ll ever get to seeing the world through another’s eyes.

5. Criss Jami on passions
If you want to channel something you’re passionate about into something that can carry your whole life, the recipe is pretty simple.

“Persistence. Perfection. Patience. Power. Prioritize your passion. It keeps you sane.” – Criss Jami

It takes a lot of time, a willingness to constantly improve, and a lot of focus. It brings joy, too.

6. CodeAcademy
Ever wanted to learn about computer programming? This is probably the best tool I’ve ever seen for learning about it completely from scratch, even if you know very little about computers.

I’d love to see the same approaches used for learning about other topics, too. The ideas they have for learning going on at CodeAcademy have wider applications than just code, I think.

7. Nelson Mandela on going home again
When I was younger, I used to wonder what had changed in my home town.

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” – Nelson Mandela

Now, I know that most of the change was me.

8. Mass Ascension
One thing I want to visit someday is a hot air balloon festival, like this one.

Mass Ascension

There is something deeply appealing to me about hot air balloons. I can’t put my finger quite on what it is, but whenever I see one, I want to stop and watch it.

9. Brian Goldman on experts and fallibility
Goldman focuses mostly on doctors, but this is true of everyone that you listen to and value their opinion. Humans are fallible. They make mistakes. That does not mean they’re evil or out to get you.

This is why multiple sources are always a good idea for anything you want to know. Generally, people aren’t trying to give you bad information, but humans are fallible and imperfect.

10. C.S. Lewis on childishness
This past week, I got an email from a reader chiding me for reading and writing fantasy and science fiction, calling them childish. This was my response, a simple quote from C.S. Lewis.

“Critics who treat ‘adult’ as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. And in childhood and adolescence they are, in moderation, healthy symptoms. Young things ought to want to grow. But to carry on into middle life or even into early manhood this concern about being adult is a mark of really arrested development. When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C.S. Lewis

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  1. Emma says:

    Inspiartion columns always make me feel kind of sad and sorry for Trent. He has seen so little of the world. How I wish he could spend a week in New York or Washington and admire the original Matisse paintings and go to life concerts. I see how Terend is longing for cultural bits and pieces. You Tube is his concert hall and albums are his art shows and museums. I hope once day he will be able to see the world outside his home. He is missing it clearly.

  2. Jules says:

    I love the CS Lewis quote. I feel the same way about toys and things.

  3. Misha says:

    I love that CS Lewis quote too.

  4. Nadine says:

    I really enjoy these columns. Maybe he has been able to get out and look at these things for real, maybe he hasn’t. I don’t know. I haven’t, and I quite suspect I’m not alone in that.

    Plus, I really like the weekly Ted talk pick, whatever it’s on.

    Thanks, Trent!

  5. Johanna says:

    @Emma: So, if Trent were to see a live concert or a painting in a gallery that he loved and wanted to share with his readers, you would suggest he do that how exactly?

  6. valleycat1 says:

    Basically what Nadine & Johanna just said. I’m in my late 50’s and remember the days before the internet and have watched it turn into a daily necessity for many and a source of entertainment. I for one am amazed at what the Internet has turned into with all the resources available to see and hear all kinds of works of art.

    We live in a very small rural town, but can easily ‘visit’ major museums and see actual performances of just about anything we’d like to see or hear at any moment, without investing time & money in a huge trip. Not that the real thing isn’t exciting and another whole dimension to the experience, but at least there’s the opportunity for wider exposure than in the past.

  7. Andrew says:

    Emma, you may not have meant it or realized it, but your post is condescending piffle.

  8. Katie says:

    Also, not that it matters, but Trent talked about going to art museums in Chicago fairly recently.

  9. kc says:

    Inspiartion columns make me feel sad and sorry for Emma.

  10. Johanna says:

    Now that I’ve defended Trent, back to your regularly scheduled negativity.

    Is item #9 a continuation of your lecturing your readers like they’re naughty children for complaining about how often you get your facts wrong? Because, really.

  11. Steven says:

    Ballon Fiesta dot com. If you want to do something, start planning. Thinking about wanting to do something isn’t very productive. Take concrete action that will get you closer to accomplishing whatever it is that you want to do.

  12. Mister E says:

    I like these columns, and I have traveled and been to lots of museums, concerts, and monuments in several different countries – more than some people, fewer than others.

    But still there are plenty of paintings that I like that I’ve never seen in person and plenty of music that I like that I’ve never seen performed live.

    There’s no reason that you can’t draw inspiration from something that you haven’t seen in person, that’s just silly.

    I’ve always been drawn to hot air balloons too. As a kid I would always try and follow them as far as I could on my bike when I’d see them over my house.

  13. Alice says:

    I like these columns a lot, I never knew about the TED talks until I saw them here.

    @#1, Trent’s written about traveling to London, and from reading his blog, it’s clear that he has traveled, and continues to travel, quite a bit, so your comment misses the mark. But not everyone has the opportunity or desire to travel, and there’s nothing wrong with enjoying what one finds on the internet. I feel sad and sorry that you felt the need to go out your way to knock innocuous things that others might find inspirational.

  14. valleycat1 says:

    At a lot of the smaller hot-air balloon festivals, the teams are in need of ground support volunteers (for example, helping them get off the ground & stow equipment, chase to their touchdown to help ferry them back). Even our small town hosts a balloon festival every once in a while.

  15. Tootie says:

    Regarding #8 – my parents once went to the balloon fest in Albuquerque and LOVED it! They always tell people to put it on their bucket list.

    Hope you can go sometime!

  16. Emma says:

    @5 Johanna When all you can offer is a comment that “impressionist paintings” “elicit something much deeper than a photograph.” it is time to see them hanging on a wall. For “inspiration”.

    There is a sacrificial and less glamorous side of frugality( or when frugality becomes religion) I am not mentioning almighty Borax here, I cook knit and made bath bombs myself) There is a lesson to learn here too. Those who made financial mistakes earlier in life and are forced to be frugal later are missing on sampling , not even indulging , real art in various forms- none of them is free. A blind can see that knowledge,music and information hungry author is reduced to second hand experiences (I do remember Chicago).
    To #9 and # 13. Cyber bulling.

  17. Alice says:

    @#16: Disagreeing with someone in a civil way is not “cyberbullying.”

  18. Emma says:

    at #15 Tootie
    The power of first hand experiences. They can be passed on to the next generation.

  19. Andrew says:

    Emma, when all you can offer is incomprehensible gibberish (“a blind can see???”) it’s time to review your writing before you post it.

    Also, calling a disagreement “cyberbullying” is hyperbole.

  20. Johanna says:

    @Emma: Setting aside the question of Trent’s (and your) ability to use language to say anything interesting, my question remains: If Trent were to have a first-hand experience that he wanted to pass on to his readers, how would you suggest he do that, if not by showing us pictures and videos?

  21. Emma says:

    My limited “ability to use(your) language ” prevents me from answering your question.I am sure you are not ready for another outbreak of”incomprehensible gibberish”.

  22. Angie unduplicated says:

    The Internet has advantages over the museum: you can choose to focus on one or a few works of art, or view them serially over time. This is from the perspective of having to sample the Metropolitan in one afternoon and spending the evening with severe eyestrain! Admittedly, the pixel cannot compare with El Greco’s paint mixing up close in daylight or inspecting the hand-cut veneer on a Federal sideboard, but for most of us, the Web will have to suffice.

  23. David says:

    Or not suffice, of course. What I know about photography or painting could be written on the back of a postage stamp and still leave room for the Lord’s Prayer. Yet it seems to me that any picture in a blog such as this is at best a third-hand thing – an image of an image of a thing.

    When it is a question of “inspiration”, this does not matter; the image above will either lead you to agree with Trent’s sentiments about it or it will not. The quality of the image will make almost no difference; if you think (as I do) that the picture might as well be entitled “A Failed Attempt by Custard Monsters to Control the World”, you would not necessarily be wrong.

    But if you take a picture of a freezer in order to illustrate a piece about freezers, everyone will gang up on you for not having paid attention to “depth of field” (whatever that is), or not having retouched the picture with tools that ought not to have been in your mind when you took it, and were certainly not available (any more than the digital camera was) to Matisse. Why is this thus? What is the reason for this thusness?

  24. Kai says:

    If enough people declare something ‘art’, then other people interested in ‘art’ will also have to declare it ‘art’, for fear of being told that they are too pedestrian to understand ‘art’. (see late Mondrian…)

    I like the ‘custard monster’ alternate title. I too am completely baffled by what interests so many people in paintings that look like nothing, other than the name attached. I recognise great skill in painters who can paint something that looks like a photograph, whether or not I derive enjoyment from their talent. But especially the ones that look like a kindergarten fingerpainting and need to be explained in feeling terms to be appreciated are completely beyond my understanding.

    Depth of field is a technical aspect, not an artistic one. You might not know what it means, but someone who aims to be a professional photographer should. It’s about focusing properly. I question how much creativity should be applied to this simple illustrative series, but having photos that are appropriate colours and reasonably focused is pretty expectable for an aspiring professional.

  25. David says:

    When the flush of a newborn sun fell first on Eden’s green and gold
    Our father Adam sat under the Tree and scratched with a stick in the mould,
    And the first rude sketch that the world had seen was joy to his mighty heart
    Till the Devil whispered behind the leaves “It’s pretty, but is it Art?”

    Rudyard Kipling and Kai and I seem to share some view of Art (“art with a capital F” may encapsulate the view). But that isn’t the point I was trying to make, which is this:

    Here are a bunch of tips on how to live frugally, illustrated by a bunch of photographs. These photographs, thematically, show that if you live frugally your domestic appliances will look as though they have been kept in the garage (which some of them have), are not free of exterior and irrelevant smudges (which all of them are not), and despite your best efforts sometimes look filthy (when their task is to eliminate filth from you by, so to speak, attracting it upon “themselves”.)

    Suppose I had seen an appropriately-colo[u]red and reasonably-focused picture of a freezer. What would that have called to my mind that the actual photo did not?

  26. Alice says:

    @#25: An earlier post explained that an aspiring photographer would be providing the photos for the daily “365” series. Because someone who wants to be a professional is providing the photos, it is appropriate to comment on technical and creative aspects. If the photo intern reads the comments, she will be getting valuable feedback on many aspects of the photos.

    The quality of a specific photo probably does not matter for purposes of this blog, but should matter very much from the point of view of the intern’s professional development: if the photos are well-done and creative, she could consider using it in a portfolio. If the photos are neither technically good nor creative, she might not be considered for future projects.

  27. Geoff Hart says:

    Anyone who criticizes science fiction and fantasy as being childish hasn’t read any books in this genre (or any short stories) since ca. 1960, or is relying entirely on TV and Hollywood for their impressions of this genre. TV and Hollywood in particular have much to be ashamed of; they trivialize the genre as much as they trivialize everything else. Don’t even get me started on Star Wards…

    *Good* science fiction and fantasy is also good *fiction*, and it’s very good indeed: it’s rigorously thought through, has much to say about the human condition and where that is heading in the future, and is often intellectually and emotionally challenging. In short, it does what the best fiction also does: it makes you think and makes you feel.

    Needless to say, it’s important to remember that there’s as much crap in this genre as there is in any other genre of writing. Have you paid attention to the best-seller lists lately?

    If you want good recommendations, contact me privately by e-mail. (Don’t just post a query here; I rarely have time to monitor the comments here.) Include the URL for this particular series of comments and I’ll include my response here so that I can share with the rest of the readers.

  28. Geoff Hart says:

    Oops.. that should be Star *Wars*, of course. Time for more coffee… Actually, let’s save time and I’ll add a few recommendations to get you started:

    For science fiction: Ian McDonald’s series of stories about India (Cyberabad Days) and Brasil (Brasyl). Brilliant explorations of two very different and very globally important cultures in the near future. I’m looking forward to his book on Turkey when I have time for more fiction.

    For fantasy: Anything by Charles de Lint in the last 15 or so years. His older stuff is also worth a read, but not as polished or as deeply affecting. Urban fantasy with a profound and deeply human heart.

    Any of Cory Doctorow’s recent books for insights into the youth culture that is increasingly shaking up and shaping our near future.

    Walter Jon Williams has done some really interesting stuff recently on virtual reality, online gaming, and its social consequences. “This Is Not A Game” is a good recent example. It’s reasonably geeky, often a really good page turner, and has some interesting insights into where we’re heading.

    Gordon van Gelder’s “Welcome to the Greenhouse”. A collection of stories on greenhouse warming and its consequences, ranging from simple, straightforward, and deeply affecting (e.g., David Brin’s contribution) to completely off the wall (e.g., Alan Dean Foster’s contribution).

    Short stories? Anything by Robert Reed, Kit Reed, Carol Emshwhiller, Ken Liu, and (if you love wordplay and Jack Vance) Matthew Hughes. That selection spans a wide range of literary styles and subjects, from stuff that doesn’t much seem like fantasy and science fiction (but is if you think about it) to stuff that is pushing the envelope.

    That’s a very short list, as there are many good writers out there in a range of subject areas within this genre. You can check out the fiction section of my web site for a few years of reviews of stories by these and other authors.

  29. Kai says:

    “#25 David
    Suppose I had seen an appropriately-colo[u]red and reasonably-focused picture of a freezer. What would that have called to my mind that the actual photo did not?”

    Ah, that’s fair. I don’t think the illustrative images here are intended to be ‘art’. I think it’s reasonable to illustrate a post about appliances with a simple photo of an appliance, and not expect it to be a soaring emotional experience.
    So I don’t question the basic composition.
    But for a person who desires to be a professional, it seems reasonable to expect all photos taken to show a basic standard of attention. If I were an aspiring photographer, I might not care to show a series of appliance shots as evidence of my great work, but I would not want yellow-tinged unfocused photos floating around with my name attached to them either. Even if this is isn’t ‘art’, it should at least add a nice illustration, rather than take away by standing out for poor quality.

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