Archive for November, 2010

Read Mark Zimmerman’s Zhurnaly to Renew Your Gumption

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Blogging, Quotes, skmurphy

Mark Zimmerman’s Zhurnaly (“Russian for Journal”) ) is food for the soul. The wiki format allows him to blend a journal, a runner’s diary, a commonplace book, and short essays. I enjoy his insights and his exploration Zen and ongoing self-improvement. It’s worth reading whenever you want to renew your gumption.

In “Welcome to 2009” I mentioned that I had read Zimmerman’s zhurnaly:

“I recommend it wholeheartedly for entrepreneurs even though it’s written by a physicist with a Zen frame of mind who has taken up marathon running in his 50’s. He is thoroughly committed to mindfulness and self-improvement, two goals any entrepreneur should strive for.”

Here he is on “How To Succeed

  • Help other people help you. Don’t struggle alone; we’re all in this together. Did somebody assign you an impossible mission? Maybe they meant to request something different. The situation may have changed since you began. You may have taken a wrong turn. Ask early and often for clarification, suggestions, feedback, …
  • Fail for a good reason. It’s OK to crash and burn if you took a well-calculated risk and it didn’t work out. It’s fine to let a higher priority (e.g., family, health, spiritual obligation, etc.) preempt a task. But there’s no honor in “I forgot” or “The time just slipped away from me” or …

And “On Failure

“Fail. Fail again. Fail better.”

This advice was reportedly posted on Samuel Beckett’s wall beside his desk. Any worthwhile pursuit — gardening, cooking, drawing, writing, thinking, teaching, learning, … — is never done to perfection. There is always room for improvement, a shortfall to correct, an error to identify and fix.

That’s precisely what makes something worthwhile: inevitable failure, plus the golden chance to try again, and to do better next time. Living is like that.

And finally two excerpts from “Arnold Bennett on Life” that has a number of thought provoking passages from the 1923 Arnold Bennett book “How to Make the Best of Life” (Gutenberg has many of his works but not this one.)

  • “I am far off old age, but old age is approaching daily. The terrors of old age are solitude, neglect, boredom, lack of suitable activity, utter dependence on others, and the consciousness of wasted opportunities, of having achieved less than one might have achieved. What am I doing now to destroy those terrors, or even to minimise them? Am I sufficiently providing for the final years? Am I keeping my old friendships in repair and constructing new ones? Am I, in the intervals of satisfying my greatest interest, creating minor interests which will serve me later? Am I digging my groove so deep that I shall never be able to climb out of it? Am I slacking?”
  • “No corner of the field is too small to occupy. No effort is too humble to produce an effect worth producing. No effort is wasted. And there will never be any millennium, you know! The millennium is a chimera. A millennium involves perfection. A hundred centuries hence the citizens of those days-to-come, regarding us of the twentieth century somewhat as we regard the inhabitants of the stone age, will still be yearning towards the millennium and still be shocked by the scandalous imperfections of their humanity and the inefficiency of their communities. There can be no finality except death. The dream of a millennium is a device of nature’s, and a very effective and agreeable device, for encouraging us to be persistent.”

See also these posts for other quotes from Mark Zimmerman’s Zhurnaly

For more on gumption (and sisu)  see

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