Saturday, May 23, 2009

Leonard Mlodinow

I was once on a plane that experienced so much turbulence that when I looked out the window, the wings seemed to flap up and down like a bird’s. I noticed, also, that the woman in the window seat next to me looked pale and terrified. Personally, I took comfort in knowing how many miles planes fly through heavy turbulence without any problems at all. So I explained to the woman how planes were designed to withstand such conditions, and told her the slim odds of anything bad happening. When I finished, she turned away and reached for the barf bag.

Some people take solace in an understanding of their environment, others don’t. For me, an understanding of the role played by chance has taught me that one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at-bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized. As someone who has taken risks in life I find it a comfort to know that even a coin weighted toward failure will sometimes land on success. Or, as I.B.M. pioneer Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.”

(, "What Are The Odds?" May 22, 2009. Leonard Mlodinow teaches randomness to future experimenters at Caltech. His books include “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives” and “Euclid’s Window: The Story of Geometry from Parallel Lines to Hyperspace.”)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Joseph Campbell

We must be willing to get rid of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.

Al Franken

When you encounter seemingly good advice that contradicts other seemingly good advice, ignore them both.

(from The Writer's Almanac, May 21, 2009)

Salman Rushdie

The most interesting thing in fiction is to invent the thing that didn't happen. The less likely, the more interesting.

(July 11, 2008, during a book-signing event at Borders in Madison, WI)

Po Bronson

Some people [when hearing about a certain job] say, "That sounds cool, but how much crap does he have to put up with?" Why indulge that question? The right question is not, "What's the crap factor?" The right question is, "How can I find something that moves my heart so that the inevitable crapstorm is bearable?"

(Po Bronson, What Should I Do With My Life?)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Bob Page

I think that's the one mistake people make when pondering a career change. They say to themselves, "What if it doesn't work out?" But they don't answer the question! What if it doesn't? You know what? You'll live.

I think the most important question is, "What if it does work out?" Maybe you can't handle that kind of happiness, having your dreams come true. I know plenty of people who make a career out of complaining and seem to enjoy it very much.

(in The Career Clinic by Maureen Anderson)

Monday, May 18, 2009

Joseph Campbell

This is the threat to our lives. We all face it. We all operate in our society in relation to a system. Now, is the system going to eat you up and relieve you of your humanity, or are you going to be able to use the system to human purposes?... If the person doesn't listen to the demands of his own spiritual and heart life and insists on a certain program, you're going to have a schizophrenic crack-up. The person has put himself off center. He has aligned himself with a programmatic life and it's not the one the body's interested in at all. And the world's full of people who have stopped listening to themselves.

Dick Bolles

I'm often asked what the secret to happiness is. This is my answer: use your gifts. They have a kind of energy, and if you don't let that out, you will go crazy.

(in The Career Clinic by Maureen Anderson)

Chris Shea

That's what makes focusing on what's in front of you so intoxicating. You're in the pure act of living. That's the goal, to figure out how to keep yourself living right now, as opposed to viewing your life through the fears of the past, or the dread of the future, or the opinion of somebody who thought you were stupid. Because that all comes in, in that loud other voice. If you can quiet that voice, you can give rise to another one--and learn how to really live.

(in The Career Clinic by Maureen Anderson)

Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin

Being able to reflect on your life while you're living it (instead of in the instant before you die) is one key to fulfillment, however you go about it. When you're working full-time, though, quiet time can seem like just one more thing to do in an already overcrowded schedule.

(in Your Money or Your Life, as quoted in The Career Clinic by Maureen Anderson)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mavis Leno

People always say, “Work on a marriage.” I think if you work on knowing your own faults and trying to correct them, you’re not going to have to work on your marriage.

(From an interview with Jay and Mavis Leno about their marriage.)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Thich Nhat Hanh

If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone, will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.

Majorca Carter

Studies show without a shadow of a doubt that when you expose people even to small clusters of nature, even in a very urban area, crime rates go down because people want to be near it.
(via Sojourners, May 2009)


The body is amazing. It can handle a lot more--a whole lot more--than you think.

Peter Matthiessen

A change is taking place, some painful growth, as in a snake during the shedding of its skin─dull, irritable, without appetite, dragging about the stale shreds of a former life, near-blinded by the old dead scale on the new eye. It is difficult to adjust because I do not know who is adjusting; I am no longer that old person and not yet the new.
p.310, The Snow Leopard

Friday, May 8, 2009

Richard St. John

Persistence is the number one reason for success.
You gotta persist through failure and C.R.A.P. -- criticism, rejection, assholes and pressure.
Ted Presentation: Richard St. John's Secrets of Success in 8 words, 3 minutes

Monday, May 4, 2009

Saint Francis de Sales

Have patience with all things,
but chiefly have patience with yourself.
Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections,
but instantly set about remedying them;
every day begin the task anew.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mark Hampton

Oh, the fun of arriving at a house and feeling the spark that tells you that you are going to have a good time.

Lewis Grizzard

It's difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a home-grown tomato.

Alice Walker

Expect nothing; live frugally on surprise.