Ten Pieces of Inspiration #86

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. Margaret Heffernan on daring to disagree
Most people avoid disagreement because it’s uncomfortable and might lead to hurt feelings or arguments. However, polite disagreement, where both sides can have their points heard and there isn’t necessarily a “winner,” is an incredibly valuable thing.

Sarah and I disagree on many things – politics, religion, board game strategy, and so on. We’re often able to discuss these ideas because we keep it polite and we realize that there doesn’t need to be a “winner.” If we do that, we both win, because our understanding grows.

2. Carpooling.com
It’s such a simple idea and so well executed. That’s what I love about online tools like this – they take a really useful idea and just hit a home run with it.

In this case, it’s about setting up and managing carpools. You can find people who live near you and work near you and then connect with them to start a carpool, which allows you to save on gas money and wear and tear on your car as well as take advantage of the HOV lane while commuting.

If I were still commuting, I would be all over this tool. Even if I could carpool just twice a week, this would save a lot of money over the long haul.

3. Thomas Jefferson on inequality
While he’s speaking about educational opportunities here, I’ve never seen a quote that can inspire such feelings when examined from the perspective of different issues.

“There is nothing more unequal, than the equal treatment of unequal people.” – Thomas Jefferson

There are going to be issues where we agree strongly with this statement. There are going to be other issues where we disagree strongly. Why the difference? It’s something worth thinking about.

4. William Shedd on safety
If we have the ability to achieve something, we’re doing both ourselves and the world a disservice by not achieving it.

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but this is not what a ship is built for.” – William Shedd

Don’t sell yourself short. If you have the talent, let your flag fly freely.

5. Two children
This is an image taken by the U.S. Army’s Family and MWR Program in 2004 for their photography contest. Something about it just struck me.

Army Photography Contest - 2004 - FMWRC - Arts and Crafts

Whenever I see a child in an unusual context, I wonder what their life holds. What influences in their life are shaping the person they’re going to become?

6. “The White Train” by J. Malcolm Garcia
“The White Train” tells the story of people in Buenos Aires who make a very tight living by collecting trash, organizing it, and selling it, and of the one train in Buenos Aires that allows these trash collectors to ride with their wares.

It’s a fascinating look at the lives of people in trying situations, and very well-written. The white train has stayed in my mind for years now.

7. Carl Sagan on the amazing nature of books
Books are amazing. There is incredible much value hidden between the covers of almost any book.

“A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts – still called ‘leaves’ – imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person – perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.” – Carl Sagan

This is taken from Cosmos, one of the most amazing television programs I’ve ever seen. It literally changed my life as a child. It’s usually available on Netflix streaming, so if you have that service, check out Cosmos.

8. Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor: “Prestissimo” with Jonathan Biss
This is one of those wonderful Youtube videos where you’re better off if you just hit play, close your eyes, and let the music flow over you.

9. Ralph Waldo Emerson on anger
Anger is very rarely worth the trouble.

“For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Your anger cannot change the world for the better. All it can do is make things worse. If you get angry, focus on dropping that anger as quickly as you can. You’ll be better off for it.

10. Mark Twain on anger
In a similar vein…

“Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.” – Mark Twain

Anger is a poison, pure and simple. If you let it consume you, you’ll end up losing everything of value in your life.

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