“10 1/2 Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said” Quotes

I recently read “10 ½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said” by Charles Wheelan. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. As always, if you like the quotes, buy the book here.

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 8.34.43 PM“Look around every once in a while and ask yourself; Have I created a race out of something that ought to be a journey?” (61)

“A journey involves following a passion. You identify a worthwhile goal and then work relentlessly in that direction. There are often tremendous external rewards, but the direction and motivation come from within.” (61)

“If you think of life as a race, then every setback means that you have fallen behind. Every risk has a potential failure lurking nearby.
But if you think of life as a journey, then every setback helps direct you to a place where you will be more likely to succeed. Every risk has a potential adventure behind it, or at least a learning experience. you are not necessarily in competition with everyone around you.” (65)

“Your parents don’t want what is best for you. They want what is good for you, which is not always the same thing.” (89)

“Most parents want some form of “tenure” for their children, even if it forecloses the option of a Pulitzer Prize. But if you, as a young graduate, want the Pulitzer Prize, you have to be prepared to go to the precipice and leap. You can’t always expect your parents to be excited about that.” (93)

“The accumulation of wealth becomes an egregiously oversimplified yardstick for measuring life success… I am not saying that you shouldn’t work hard. If you think you will become exceptional at anything without lots of grinding away, you are delusional.” (100)

“Take joy in the journey, rather than building your life around how good you expect the view to be when you get to the top.” (105)

“I try to ask myself, Is the journey still worthwhile if the mountain turns out to be enshrouded in fog at the top?” (106)

“At one point I asked, “Do you really think you can win?”
He said, “I don’t have to. I just have to run a race that my grandchildren will be proud of.”” (107)

“Technology and globalization and the other forces of change are like a stream running downhill. We cannot stop them; we cannot turn them around. But we can direct them. We design the incentives, build the social institutions, mediate the disputes, make the laws, and decide how our collective resources will be used or not used, shared or not shared. We, as educated and responsible adults, have the ability to shape and direct the inexorable forces as they come spilling downhill.
Change is inevitable; but progress depends on what we do with that change.” (112)

“Don’t try to be great. Just be solid.” (116)

“Being great involves luck, and unique circumstances, and a lot of other forces beyond your control. You can’t just make it happen by working more or trying harder.
There is an irony here, of course. The less you think about being great, the more likely it is to happen. And if it doesn’t, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being solid.” (118)

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