One of the several joys of reading a wide variety of books is that their authors share quotations that were previously unfamiliar and are worthy of inclusion with those chestnuts from the usual sources such as Sun Tzu, St. Paul, William Shakespeare, and Yogi Berra.
“Only those who take leisurely what the people of the world are busy about can be busy about what people of the world take leisurely.” Taoist maxim
“Play is the highest form of research.” Albert Einstein
“No, no! You’re not thinking, you’re just being logical….” Niels Bohr
“The world is not to be put in order, the world is order incarnate. It is up to us to put ourselves in unison with this order.” Henry Miller
“It would be erroneous to assume that intelligence is necessarily conscious and deliberate. We know more than we can tell.” Gerd Gigerenzer
“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Max Planck
“The whole idea of passion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living things, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” Thomas Merton
“Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.” Howard Aiken
“Throughout most of history, Anonymous was a woman.” Virginia Woolf
“We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” Will Rogers
“I was walking down the street wearing glasses when the prescription ran out.” Stephen Wright
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” John Lennon
“I can think of nothing less pleasurable than a life devoted to pleasure.” John D. Rockefeller
“When a true genius appears in this world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.” Jonathan Swift
“A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.” Mark Twain
In his book Eight Steps Ahead: What Separates Business Visionaries from the Rest of Us, published by Portfolio/Penguin (2011), Erik Calonius reveals what makes visionaries tick and how they develop their extraordinary powers. We learn, for example,
• How Steve Jobs used intuition to guide him from the Apple I to the Mac, and on to the iPhone and iPad
• How a block of wood and a chopstick helped Jeff Hawkins develop the first PalmPilot
• Why John Lennon took a nap before writing “In My Life”
• How Richard Branson had the insight to trademark “Virgin Galactic Airways” in the early 1990’s, when private spaceflight was still science fiction
• Why Richard Feynman made breakthroughs in quantum mechanics by imagining he was an electron
What do they and other business visionaries share in common? Here are five key points:
1. They “find something that the rest of us have been missing” and later describe as “so obvious”…but we didn’t see it before.
2. They “share a willingness to suffer and struggle for their dreams.” As Anders Ericsson’s research on peak performance reveals, they are not only willing to commit 10,000 (or more) hours to whatever must be learned, mastered, etc. to achieve the results they seek.
3. They “see” in great detail what does not as yet exist or at least is not as yet visible to others. For example, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475-1564) saw the Pieta and David; everyone else only saw two huge blocks of granite.
4. They “get out into the world and experience things, and from that shape their ideas.” For example, George de Mestral in Colombier, near Lausanne, Switzerland, who took long walks with his dog in the woods each day and grew weary of removing burrs from its hair. In 1941, he envisioned what we now know as Velcro, a hock-and-loop fastener inspired by the burr’s interaction with hair.
5. Their drive to see their dreams fulfilled “exceeds rational behavior…in fact, it defines what a visionary is” but their enthusiasm, passion, and determination are usually contagious. They are driven to make something better…hopefully, MUCH better. Steve Jobs concedes without apology that he is only interested in “insanely great ideas.”