einstein's lessons

Today I'm going to get condescending.  Well, I hope not.  I saved an enjoyable collection of lessons from Albert Einstein a while back so I could brag about how I follow them all..., I mean reflect on them here on finding fun.

I'll start with the ones I wholeheartedly agree with and put into practice and finish with those I wholeheartedly agree with but struggle to implement.  And I'll skip a couple to keep the length down.

The Good on me Lessons

Perseverance is Priceless
"It's not that I'm so smart; it's just that I stay with problems longer."

In Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argued that success in math is very highly correlated with perseverance.  One amazing case study revealed that students who spend more time filling out the demographic part of standardized math tests also scored higher on the tests.

In my career, programming, it is absolutely true.  You will find abundant success if you keep a level head and keep taking cracks at the problems you run into until you overcome them.  I have family in medicine who tell me the same thing about that field.  Heck, even my recent plumbing adventures speak to this concept.

Make Mistakes
"A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new."

Christine and I like to egg each other on by saying "Go big or go home!"  We're conservative by nature but sometimes you've got to put yourself out there and try new things.  If I hadn't I wouldn't have gone to Socrates Cafes, joined bands, or trained for a half marathon.  Or have half the friends I do.

Create Value
"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value."

I almost never think thoughts like "have I achieved success" or "how can I be more successful."  It was way back in college when a friend of mine said, "the only things that matter are God and people."  That has stuck with me and I try and work on my relationship with both all the time.  My "plan for success" is that good stuff will happen as a result of my philosophy.

Knowledge Comes From Experience
"Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience."

Lots of implications from this one.  I'll focus on the joy of getting older.  I am getting close to 40 and I know lots of people my age (or even 10 years younger!) who lament the passing years.  Certainly I have more wrinkles now and might recover a little more slowly from injury or illness.

But no way would I go back to 19 even if I could.  I know so much more now and have had so many great experiences.  And as Einstein said, so much more knowledge.  When my 40th birthday comes I will celebrate having survived another year like I always do.  Too many people don't make it to 40 (some of whom I knew) for me to lament the milestones as I reach them.

I'll also throw out there that another implication from this lesson is it is good to make friends with people from a variety of age groups.

The I'm still a buffoon Lessons

The Imagination is Powerful
"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions. Imagination is more important than knowledge."

I do work on being creative.  But enough?  I like the catharsis of predictable routine -- playing a game of ncaa football that I know I'll win, watching a predictable TV show, etc.

In the back of my mind I always think I can stretch myself more.  It always strikes me when I read well-written philosophy books.  The authors throw out these beautiful real-world examples that illustrate complex theory.  Makes me so jealous.  In Toastmasters I often opt to give technical presentations to try and improve my creative analogy making.

Focus on the Present
"Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves."

I am a planner.  I love thinking about the future and making lists.  I love having music or TV on while I'm doing other things. (Right now I've got The Chick Corea Songbook by The Manhattan Transfer on.)  I know it impeded focus sometimes but I have a hard time changing my ways.

Let's see, four I did well on and two I didn't.  I knew this was going to be self-serving. <g>  I hope you have come to this point feeling encouraged rather than lectured to.  I've got more of these for the future.  Feel free to look forward to them with anticipation or dread as the case may be.