An Annual Meditation

For about the last decade I've been saving quotes that have resonated with me for whatever reason. They speak to my morals, ethics, beliefs, dreams, selfish desires, whatever.

Over the last few years, I've gotten in the habit of reading them on 1st of the year. It's the closest thing I have to a resolution. For me, they are a way of recalibrating my life and my direction. They help remind me what's important and what my goals are...details that can be forgotten over 365 days.

Throughout the year I add some...and on the 1st of the year, I always end up removing a few. Quotes that no longer resonate with me; they no longer help recalibrate me; they no longer help fuel the fire that drives me all year long.

Below is where that list is now. I share it because maybe they'll have a similar affect on you...or maybe they'll mean nothing. That's fine to. If it makes you feel any better, I'm also posting it here so that I have an online copy in case I lose my working copy.

It's a list of famous people, of unknown people and of just plain unknowns. They are politicians, philosophers, authors, entrepaneurs, comedians, scientists, technologists, cooks, athletes, philanthropists, musicians and religious icons simply sharing their view of life and the world through the lens of what's important to them. I know that some of the quotes contradict themselves, which is fine...I think it just reflects the contradictions in me - at this point in my life - as well.

Enjoy!

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"Everything in life is really simple. We are the ones who choose to make things complicated. Things don’t change. People don’t change. The only thing we can change, is ourselves. And by changing ourselves, we become a solution and while we work towards solving the problem, things change. We change. It’s really that simple."
- Mona Nomura, Better Humans

"A person who cannot genuinely empathize with others can never excel as a leader. So much of what ails society today is the result of too many people in leadership positions who do not or cannot identify with the plight of their fellow men and women."
- Daisaku Ikeda

  1. Prioritize
  2. Ask smarter questions
  3. Make data-driven decisions
  4. Divorce your ego
  5. Frame the problem
  6. Get perspective on the problem
  7. Model the problem
  8. Think of the system and the ecosystem
  9. Think of the problem over time
  10. Think strategically
- Bill Gates

"Leaders are not what many people think–people with huge crowds following them. Leaders are people who go their own way without caring, or even looking to see whether anyone is following them. “Leadership qualities” are not the qualities that enable people to attract followers, but those that enable them to do without them. The include, at the very least, courage, endurance, patience, humor, flexibility, resourcefulness, determination, a keen sense of reality, and the ability to keep a cool and clear head even when things are going badly. This is the opposite of the “charisma” that we hear so much about"
- John Holt

"At the heart of the engineering approach is a separation of design and construction."
- Martin Fowler

"It is important to focus on what can be done and how the problem can be solved with the available resources."
- Ken Schwaber

"Discipline includes scoring systems for making good decisions. Your actions begin with your decisions, so a core discipline should include processes for consistently making good decisions. Scoring systems like the one you should use to determine your definition of success can work in all sorts of other areas of life, including your decision making."
-  Mark Sanborn

"When we care for others our own strength to live increases. When we help people expand their state of life, our lives also expand. Actions to benefit others are not separate from actions to benefit oneself. Our lives and the lives of others are ultimately inseparable."
- Daisaku Ikeda

“When I was a young man, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. I didn’t want to be a failure, so I did ten times more work.” 
- George Bernard Shaw

"A team self-organizes to draw on its strengths rather than succumb to its problems...Management is primarily responsible for doing anything possible to increase team productivity and then adapting to the results"
- Ken Schwaber

  1. Set goals. Articulate the problem and give your audience a specific challenge or clarity around the end goal. Framing the questions is vital to success.
  2. Practice cross-fertilization. Executive sponsorship is important at the onset to gather crowds, but don’t limit participants to a single area of expertise or department within a business. Bringing together different thinkers results in bigger, better ideas.
  3. Make it fun. There needs to be a social recognition and a game quality to make what is ultimately a problem-solving task attractive to participants. Integrate game mechanics and voting, or prizes to motivate the crowd.
  4. Be committed. Be prepared for a continuous feedback loop – to provide an answer, take action or just simply acknowledge the crowds contributions.
  5. Allocate back-end resources. On the front-end, things like communication and motivation are critical. Once the ideas start rolling in, there needs to be curation and filtering, along with plans to put the contributions into action.
- Courtney Boyd Myers


"We need to be in the open mode when pondering a problem — but! — once we come up with a solution, we must then switch to the closed mode to implement it. Because once we’ve made a decision, we are efficient only if we go through with it decisively, undistracted by doubts about its correctness."
- John Cleese

1) Always be creating.
2) Make your own inspiration.
3) If you don’t know something, explore.
4) Be adventurous.
5) Take breaks.
6) Work even when others aren’t.
7) Share what you learn.
8) Ignore the critics.
9) Don’t wait, start now.
Tanner Christensen, Rules of a Creator's Life

"To be fearless no matter what happens—that is the root of true happiness. To move forward resolutely regardless of what lies in store—that is the spirit, the resolve, that leads to human victory."
- Daisaku Ikeda

"One of the best ways to tap collective smarts is to set great goals and let diverse solutions emerge  -- to be big on the what and small on the how. "
- Eric Liu

1. Don't see. Do.2. Do something unusual.3. Embark on a worthless mission.4. Embrace a cause.5. Let other people spread the word.6. Get over yourself.
- Jeff Haden

“Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…”
- Timothy Leary

"I'm so far from perfect, I make mistakes daily. My goal is to share that lesson, in hopes of saving the next persons time. I don't Live or Love Perfectly, I Just Operate Genuinely. Everything about me is flawed and that's what makes me authentic. I am proud of my scars, they are evidence that I'm healed. What others think of me is none of my business, it's theirs. I have confidence in myself and know my job is to be the best person and parent I can be, even when no one is looking."
- Jess Romero

"Failure is an instrumental part of every success. Whether our life has been a triumph or tragedy can only be judged at its very end. " 
-Daisaku Ikeda

People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.Love them anyway.
If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.Do good anyway.
If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.Succeed anyway.
The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.Do good anyway.
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.Be honest and frank anyway.
The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.Think big anyway.
People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.Build anyway.
People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.Help people anyway.
Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.Give the world the best you have anyway.
- Kent M. Keith

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."
- Scott Adams

“The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”
- E. E. Cummings

"Everything passes. Both soaring joys and crushing sorrows fade away like a dream. However, the knowledge of having lived one’s life to the fullest never disappears."
- Daisaku Ikeda

"A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult"
- Proverbs 12:16

"No one can make you feel bad without your permission"
- E. Roosevelt

"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity."
- Gilda Radner

"If opportunity isn't knocking ... build a door" 
- Milton Berle

"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate."
- Thomas Watson

"Information is different from knowledge, and it has nothing at all to do with wisdom"
- Wendell Berry

"Established truths are comforting, bit it is the mysteries of science that make the soul ache and render a life of exploration worth living"
- Brian Greene

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things."
- Rene Descartes

"Our hopes, desires and ambitions are powerful forces existing within us for the shaping of the future. They are the generating forces that create the future. To lose hope or give up one’s goals because of the setbacks of the moment is to diminish one’s own life potential. Hopes, dreams, faith and sense of mission enable us to open up our lives."
-  Daisaku Ikeda

"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."
- Kurt Cobain

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." 
- Dom Helder Camara

"To the extent that we contemplate ourselves and elevate our state of life, we can deepen our understanding of others. Someone who does so is capable of recognizing and treasuring people's individuality. A person of wisdom tries to invigorate others and bring out the best in them."
- Daisaku Ikeda

"For me, the main meal is doing, not just seeing. It's about following your own interests on the road."
- Doug Lansky

"Humility before Honor"
- Proverbs 15:33

"Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."
- Anthony Bourdain

"Do all the good you can and make as little fuss about it as possible." 
- Charles Dickens

"I enjoy life because I am endlessly interested in people and their growth. My interest leads me to widen my knowledge of people, and this in turn compels me to believe in the common goodness of mankind. I believe that the normal human heart is born good. That is, it’s born sensitive and feeling, eager to be approved and to approve, hungry for simple happiness and the chance to live. It neither wishes to be killed, nor to kill. If through circumstances, it is overcome by evil, it never becomes entirely evil. There remain in it elements of good, however recessive, which continue to hold the possibility of restoration."
- Pearl Buck

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough” 
- A. Einstein

"There’s no destination. There’s no getting anywhere. There’s just the going. The key to life is to make the going really fun."
- Patton Oswalt

"As long as we are human, we are bound to make mistakes. What distinguishes a forward-looking person from an intransigent one, a virtuous person from a dishonest one, however, is whether one can candidly admit to one’s mistakes and take bold steps to redress them."  
- Daisaku Ikeda

"I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle."
- Steve Jobs, 2005, Stanford Commencement Speech

"I believe in the brotherhood of all men, but I don't believe in wasting brotherhood on anyone who doesn't want to practice it with me. Brotherhood is a two-way street." 
- Malcolm X

"Do not wait until your retirement before you live your dreams." 
-S. Alpert

"The two wheels that carry dialogue forward are a belief that everyone possesses goodness within, and a spirit of unflagging determination to tap and draw out that goodness." 
- Daisaku Ikeda

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.” 
- Buddha

"If we think of training and coaching as the anvil that the hammer of time and effort beats us against to shape us, the hammering would be useless without the fire of failure to heat us to the point that we can be molded into a success." 
- Paul McCord

"Never has there been a more exciting time for all of us to explore this great next frontier where boundaries between work and purpose are merging into one, where doing good really is good for business." 
- Richard Branson

"I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” 
- Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect the dots looking backward." 
-Steve Jobs

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous, teach me to serve you as I should, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labour and ask not for reward, save that of knowing that I do your most holy will."
- St. Ignatius Loyola

"The amazing thing is that every atom in your body came from a star that exploded. And, the atoms in your left hand probably came from a different star than your right hand. It really is the most poetic thing I know about physics: You are all stardust."
Lawrence Krauss, A Universe From Nothing

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
- T. S. Elliot

"Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony."
- Mahatma Gandhi

“You Are The Universe, Expressing Itself As A Human For A Little While.”
- Eckhart Tolle

"Simply be who you are, do what you do best, be where you are called by joy, and let life work its magic on your behalf."
- Alan Cohen

"Let go or be dragged." 
- Zen Proverb

"The discovery of commonalities bridges the distance between people’s hearts. Seclusion invariably dims the inner radiance of both individuals and societies. It is the spirit of mutual respect and the willingness to learn from others that bonds hearts together. In the words of a wise person, when you bow respectfully to the mirror, the image in the mirror likewise bows to you."
- Daisaku Ikeda

"We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects." 
- Herman Melville

"The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don't know what to do."
- John W. Holt, Jr.

"The greater my aspirations ... the more I create ... the higher the standards I set ... the more opportunity is created for exceptional people to participate, express their greatness in the form of ideas, innovation and service. Why would I ever feel it necessary to apologize for ambition."
- David Pickard Wyllie

"Remember, don't sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Because no one gives a fuck."
- Ricky Gervais

"When you want something you've never had, you have to do something you've never done."
- Unknown

"It's never too late to become what you might have been."
- George Eliot

"It is much more valuable to look for the strengths in others—you gain nothing by criticizing people’s imperfections."
- Daisaku Ikeda

"If you can dream it you can do it"
- Walt Disney

"One who conquers himself is greater than another who conquers a thousand times a thousand on the battlefield"
- Guatama Buddha 

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. "
- Teddy Roosevelt

There's always, even when everything's going wrong, there's some silver lining in there. There's some piece of data that you could take, there's some lesson that you can learn that if you apply it, could lead to success down the road.
- Jeremy Stoppelman

Happiness doesn’t exist on the far side of distant mountains. It is within you, yourself. Not you, however, sitting in idle passivity. It is to be found in the vibrant dynamism of your own life as you struggle to challenge and overcome one obstacle after another, as you clamber up a perilous ridge in pursuit of that which lies beyond.  
- Daisaku Ikeda

"If you do not enjoy what you are doing, you will never be good at it."
- Luke Parker

"It's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."


- Vince Lombardi