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The Quotes Newsletter
Personal favorites I turn to for guidance, reflection, and discipline.
The following list is a living document of quotes that have had a big impact on how I’ve chosen to live my life, and have shaped the way I view the world around me. Over time these can, and will change as I enter different seasons of my life, but their significance will remain unrivaled. Quick note: they aren’t in any particular order.
Keep in mind, my interpretation of these quotes and the analysis provided is from my unique point of view. The beauty about literature and language is that its meaning and relevance is context dependent. Please chime in with different interpretations as it only makes for better conversation. And apologies if I don’t have the correct author to the corresponding quotes. It’s the message that is truly important.
“Staying positive does not mean that things will turn out okay. Rather it is knowing that you will be okay no matter how things turn out.”
I’ve always considered my view point of the world to be realistic in nature. I’m very analytical and objectively look at situations. Instead of using the term risk averse, I prefer “risk calculated.” It’s foolish to be delusional in your optimism. But that doesn’t mean you should adopt a negative mindset as your default setting. This quote has helped me embody the essence of that approach to life. Sure, you’ll get bumps and scrapes, have your heart broken more than a time or two. You’ll have endless challenges placed in front of you till the day you die. Believing that it will all be okay all the time won’t actually allow you to be fulfilled in life or manage your expectations. But believing that you’ll be capable of working through the next challenge you face, and coming out the other side in some way shape or form should help you build confidence to go out and live life to its fullest.
“The quality of your mind determines the quality of your life.”
I wrote about the significance of this quote in my first post. It reinforces the notion that our conscious being is the only way we experience life. What we are giving attention to is how we live our life. If the spotlight of your brain is directed on negative energy or events, why would it be reasonable to assume you would then be happy?
“Be a man who proves not all men are the same.”
I saw this quote scrolling through instagram one day back in 2018. I saved it in my favorites and view it nearly every time I get on a plane (along with all my dog photos just to smile at how amazing they really are). When I read this I picture an idealized version of myself. A gentleman in every aspect of the word and ethos. Someone that reinforces belief in a stranger’s day that there is good in this world. It provides a distant star to which I can calibrate my moral compass.
“How far are you willing to go? Further than you.”
This is definitely a motivational, fire-you-up type quote. It’s self-confidence promoting, but not success promising. It encourages you to give your best and have faith that your best is enough. Though there is a comparative element to it, I choose to frame it in a way that says the ideal version of me is willing to go further than the compulsive, present, dopamine seeking version of myself. It helps to reinforce the notion that nothing worth having comes easy. Be willing to sacrifice in the present for your future goals.
“I’m proud to know Americans like you.”
This was a line said at the end of the movie “13 Hours” by the CIA director to actor John Krasinski after the conflict ended and he was stepping on the charter jet to fly home. For context, the CIA director made a number of questionable decisions that led to suboptimal outcomes and put numerous lives at risk. The individual John Krasinski portrays went beyond his call-off-duty to protect those around him, even though it was in defiance to the chain of command. It reminds me to stand up for what I believe in, and be willing to protect those in need. One of my favorite books “Fearless,” about Navy SEAL, Adam Brown, who was killed in Afghanistan captured a similar theme. One of the chapters detailed how Adam wanted to be a source of hope for Afghan children who only knew war and violence. He would take them on his four wheeler, bring them new shoes, and play soccer with them in the streets. You never know who is watching, or who looks up to you. Be willing to to do what’s right, even if that’s the harder thing to do.
“It’s a slow process, however quitting won’t speed it up.”
Alt. Version: “You either quit or keep going, they both hurt”- Jay Shetty
The first quote I read back in 2017, at a time when I was confronting some mental health challenges. In a society so dependent on instant gratification, there is a tendency for us to give up if at first try something doesn’t work. Or worse, we look for quick fixes, easy band-aids to alienate the symptoms vs. addressing the deeper rooted causes to our problems. The second half, “quitting won’t speed it up” actually gave me a sense of an internal ultimatum. Yeah, whatever you’re going through might be hard, but by quitting you won’t get any closer to your desired outcome. Which is also where I see great parallels with the alternative quote below it. If you think about how you will feel if you quit, our conscious brains are able to conceptualize that pain, and it’s often times greater than the current level of discomfort you’re experiencing as you contemplate your options. I come back to these when I’m at a crossroads in my life, or low on motivation to continue on.
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” - Socrates
I’m just as guilty as the person next to me of ruminating on past mistakes or thinking about the “what ifs” that might have transpired had I said or done something different in a certain moment. But the hard truth is that as of right now, no one can time travel to redo anything. We can only move forward. That is not to say you can’t learn from past mistakes, but dwelling on them uses up brainpower and attention that could be devoted to better thought processes. A podcaster by the name George Mack calls this the “opportunity cost of a thought.” You can only think about one thing at a time, and you have a finite amount of time, so choose wisely how you spend that time thinking.
“You'll worry less about what people think about you when you realize how seldom they do.” - David Foster Wallace
As social creatures, it’s biologically programmed in us to be self-conscious of how we appear to the greater society. We all have anxiety thinking about messing up in front of others, making a fool of ourselves, and letting people down. But I heard a self reflected rhetorical question on the Modern Wisdom podcast that said "Do you remember when someone else did an embarrassing thing to themselves?” I’m sure there are a few situations you’ll reminisce on of a best friend or relative doing something funny that they are embarrassed of. But by and large, you don’t recall the blunders people experience in their lives, so we shouldn’t be so self-conscious about our public actions and words. We would laugh at how little people remember of our own lives. Chris Williamson said, “Stop worrying about other people liking you, most people don’t even like themselves.” We don’t get to see/feel the self doubt that stirs around in other people’s minds all day. Don’t be so hard on yourself. We are only human.
“You will earn the respect of all men if you begin by earning the respect of yourself.” -Musonius Rufus
This quote piggy backs on the one above, but in a different light. If I’m not proud of myself, what good is external validation. If I can’t look in the mirror with a straight face and be satisfied with the person looking back at me, why should I expect others to hold me in a higher regard. Don’t get me wrong, imposter syndrome is real. You might hold yourself to a higher standard than what others hold you to. But the fundamental message remains unchanged. At the end of the day, fulfillment comes from within. Conduct yourself in such a way that you are happy with yourself, and that will naturally flow into those around you. Don’t do things to please other people, do it for yourself, because you want to get better. You want to impress YOURSELF. You want to show up for YOURSELF.
“The sign of intelligence is that you are constantly wondering. Idiots are always dead sure about every damn thing they are doing in their life.” - Sadhguru
Alt Version: “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” - Albert Einstein
It’s safe to assume we can all picture a person in our life that fulfills the second sentence of the first quote. And many times we avoid conversations with them because we know their view point will never change or they’ll never entertain new perspectives. Approach life with an open mind and from a place of curiosity. Many people who are introspective and trying to have a realistic interpretation of their opinions on an issue, put caveats to their statements. They give themselves a wiggle room of safety to be wrong in their proposed belief. It’s the all believing people who have absolute opinions and make it looks like they have done all their research. The key to avoiding that sort of behavior is to be able to state the data that would have to be made available for you to switch your viewpoint. For example, if you firmly believe that “climate change is a hoax,” then in support of your belief, you should be able to relay to the opposing party the necessary “facts” / details that would have to come to light for you to entertain a different position on climate change.
“Reaching your goals is not success if you compromise your values along the way.” - Adam Grant
I listened to a lecture Jordan Peterson gave outlining the traps of materialism. In it he says, “there is no success without moral success. Without moral success the success could look like torture.” What he means by that is if you have a bad conscience about the methods you employed to attain a certain good, person, or status, it will forever weigh on you. In the moment you might be satisfied with the outcome, but it will be short lived. No amount of material success can rectify immoral behavior. Without going down a tangent, this is the exact behavior of psychopaths. They will do whatever is within their power to achieve their desired outcome. Non-psychopathic humans however have much more rational thinking and judgement. So when certain short cuts present themselves to you, or you think you can avoid coming clean of a certain wrong doing, just know that that price will be paid down the road when you reflect on your character and actions.
“20 minutes of doing something is more valuable than 20 hours of thinking about doing something.”
We have all heard the phrase “paralysis by analysis.” We can spend so much time planning and evaluating how we want our next move to look, but we never actually make the move. A common pit fall we often succumb to, is telling other people about our intentions, and getting their approval, before actually starting. We get a false release of endorphins and hormones when other praise us, and that temporarily negates any more forward movement in our plan. Before you attack me and say, but I thought it was good to share your goals with others so that they hold you accountable. Yes. 100%. But also be aware that talking about doing the thing and actually doing the thing vie for the same resources. The perfect time to start is now.
“Be a pro.” - GBRS Group
This has been a more recent mindset adoption of mine. I’ve always been a believer in having fun, and not taking life too seriously. I would get irritated by people who were so caught up in the bark on the tree, that they never saw the forest around them. I wouldn’t say this approach leads to complacency, but there is an element of it that prevents you from going that extra mile. You tell yourself that you’ll be ok no matter how things turn out (see what I did there :) ), and so as long as you give it a good effort, you have no reason to waste time in the details that might not matter. You tell yourself that you can’t plan for endless contingencies because that’s not practical. But then I kept hearing the guys at GBRS Group use this phrase. Granted, their work is a bit more high risk than the average person, and a characteristic of SEALs is that they will adapt and overcome no matter the situation, but they still take the time to pursue perfection in the small things. DJ at GBRS said “They deserve to know someone is coming for them in the worst of the worst situations.” If you were about to have the biggest surgery of your life, you would want the most capable doctor available. You would want the professional completed devoted to their craft.
The caveat to this is we can’t be pros at everything. You need to pick in advance what you are going to suck at, and by design, you make sacrifices to make progress towards some long term goals. Geek out and be a pro about the things that do fascinate you and that you are proud of. Chose to become great at something.
“You don’t rise to the occasion, you fall to the level of your training.” —Navy SEALs
Alt. Version: “You don’t become confident by shouting affirmation at the mirror but by having a stack of undeniable proof that you are who you say you are. Outwork your self doubt” - Alex Harmonzi
Confidence without competence is a delusion. I was chatting with a co-worker the other day about prepping for a presentation. She told me she would rather just wing it in the moment than to spend time developing her materials. But in reality, that approach is a defense mechanism we use to have a scapegoat for when things don’t go well. If you don’t prep and the presentation goes poorly, you’ll give yourself an out and use the excuse that you didn’t prep. Believing that had you prepped, it would have been fine. This is talked about in the book by Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art.” You try to fake your confidence in the hopes that your lack of competence doesn’t show. It’s a risky way to live. Put in the time and effort to be proficient in your craft, and build confidence in the form of a cement foundation, instead of on a house of cards. If you continue to crush all your goals and challenges and you still have self doubt, it is not a competence issue, but a self image issue. Lead from action as opposed to leading from belief.
Leave a comment below with personal favorites of yours or ways in which you were impacted by the ones above!
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