Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.

A few weeks ago I randomly came across the quote in the title and it stuck with me. Every single day since then, it’s been popping up in my head and for brief moments it makes me contemplate upon its meaning. I’m a sucker for wise quotes, and I became particularly fascinated with this one because it’s attributed to Albert Einstein, one of my favourite scientists of all time.

Yesterday evening I had a bit of time to kill as I was waiting to board a delayed flight, so I started digging into google to see if the wise words were, indeed, Mr. Einstein’s, or if they were wrongly attributed to him as many, many others on the internet. Luckily, after about an hour of investigation I stumbled upon the quote in an incredible memoir on Albert Einstein in LIFE magazine. Written by one of LIFE’s editors, William Miller, and published in their May 2 1955 issue, shortly after he died, it’s an incredible piece of literary history. If you have a few minutes you should go read it now (p. 61, 64). Have a look at the ads while you’re at it (they’re hilarious).

The memoir mainly describes a trip that Mr. Miller took together with his son and an old friend of Einstein’s, Dr. Hermanns, to the scientist’s house, unannounced, a short while before his sudden death. My favourite part of the whole thing is a conversation they have about one’s reason and purpose in life, with Einstein concluding (while addressing Pat, Mr Miller’s young son) that:

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery each day. Never lose a holy curiosity. Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.

Drive

One of my favourite books when I was in high school was Losing My Virginity, Richard Branson’s biography. It’s a thick, detailed journal but there’s a paragraph inside that has stuck with me over the years: “I have no secret. There are no rules to follow in business. I just work hard and, as I always have done, believe I can do it.”

A few months ago, I was watching an interview with Michael Bloomberg and the interviewer asked him what his secret is for becoming so successful. I can’t remember his words exactly, but it was something like “Look, I’m no smarter than you, him or anybody else. I just work harder than everyone I know. When I used to work for Salomon Brothers I’d be the first in the office at 7am. The only other person in the office with me that early was John Gutfreund [CEO], so we’d grab coffee together and talk. That’s how I got to grow within the company”.

Today, I read a short but amazing interview with Elon Musk in Wired. When asked “How do you maintain your optimism?”, he responded with “Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; we’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.”

Successful people work hard, never give up and don’t take no for an answer. In other words, they are driven. Driven to achieve the impossible, go the extra mile, driven to succeed. I hope to be able to look back one day and say that I’ve worked harder than everybody I know. “Optimism, pessimism, fuck that; we’re going to make it happen.”

Three things to do every day

I tend to take hollywoodian quotes & stories with a grain of salt, but I recently discovered a speech by college basketball coach Jimmy Valvano that resonated with me quite well, and I hope it does with you also. Jim died of cancer in 1993, a month after accepting the Arthur Ashe Courage & Humanitarian Award. This was his acceptance speech:

“To me, there are three things we all should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend some time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears – could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. If you do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

Indeed it is. And if you’d like to watch the full speech, you can do it here.

Time

“Time is your most precious gift because you only have a set amount of it. You can make more money, but you can’t make more time. When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of your life that you’ll never get back. Your time is your life. That is why the greatest gift you can give someone is your time.”

Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life.

Wise sayings

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and  parents will. Stay in touch.5. Pay off your credit cards every month.6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck. 10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile. 11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.12.It’s OK to let your children see you cry.13. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it. 15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks. 16. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.17. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.18. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else. 20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer. 21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 22. Over prepare, then go with the flow. 23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.24. The most important sex organ is the brain.25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words “In five years, will this matter?”.27. Always choose life.28. Forgive everyone everything.29. What other people think of you is none of your business.30. Time heals almost everything. Give time, time.31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.32. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.33. Believe in miracles. 34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do. 35. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.36. Growing old beats the alternative – dying young.37. Your children get only one childhood.38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. 42. The best is yet to come. 43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.44. Yield.45. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.