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Author / Eric Johnson

Steven Pinker’s TED Talk: Is the world getting better or worse?

I read Steven Pinker’s new book, Enlightenment Now, and came away more optimistic about humanity. We’ve made remarkable progress in even the last few decades, not to mention the drastic difference in the human experience over the past two centuries. The book, though, is filled with an extraordinary amount of data backing up his arguments […]

My recent reading

I chipped away slowly (usually no more than 20 minutes a day in the morning while my kids were still asleep) at Steven Pinker’s 453-page long Enlightenment Now and finished it recently. It’s a thorough—and I do mean thorough—survey of the key measures of human well being. And his convincing conclusion, backed up by charts […]

Act as if you were absolutely perfect

“Disregard whatever you think yourself to be and act as if you were absolutely perfect—whatever your idea of perfection may be. All you need is courage… Behave as best you know. Do what you think you should. Don’t be afraid of mistakes; you can always correct them. Only intentions matter. The shape things take is […]

Hard work, hardly working

“What you choose to work on, and who you choose to work with, are far more important than how hard you work.” –Naval Ravikant Hard work overrated? Yes, especially if the “what” and “who” are undervalued. Hard work and efficiency are actually detrimental if you’re heading in the wrong direction with the wrong people. Get […]

The function and duty of a quality human being

“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one’s potential.” –Bruce Lee You never arrive. But keep going nonetheless. “To be what we are, and to become what we […]

Miles Davis, So What, and being in accord no matter the chord

This story that opens jazz great Herbie Hancock’s memoir, Possibilities, is profound: I’m onstage at a concert hall in Stockholm, Sweden, in the mid-1960s playing piano with the Miles Davis Quintet. We’re on tour, and this show is really heating up. The band is tight—we’re all in sync, all on the same wavelength. The music […]

Get a move on

Meditations 9.29: “Do what nature demands. Get a move on—if you have it in you—and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it. And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic; be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.” Do your work. Don’t make a big a […]

Work and play

“The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play.” –Arnold Toynbee Flow states are the blissful blur that line is calling for. “Happiness is absorption.” –T.E. Lawrence

Kurosawa on peaking at 80

I make a point in a talk I do for student groups that there’s no hurry to make your mark or to “hit it big”. There seems to be more pressure than ever for young people to not only have their career figured out right out of college, but to be rich and famous by […]

Happiness happens

“Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.” –Victor Frankl Happiness happens. You don’t catch it. It catches you. Pursue, instead, a cause bigger than yourself. Focus on what you have to offer, not on what you want to receive. Aiming to bring happiness to others is a more direct path to your own happiness than […]

Choices

“Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life.” –Jerzy Gregorek? Choose wisely.

Tell less, ask more

A haiku from the author Michael Bungay Stanier summarizing his book, The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way Your Lead Forever: “Tell less and ask more. Your advice is not as good As you think it is.” I need to print this and put it in a frame on my desk […]

A calling

My wife has a knack for making things beautiful and making beautiful things. It’s her gift and a noble calling. Even her handwriting is artful. You should see the cakes she decorates. She cares about the small details and delights in delighting others. I love that about her. Making things beautiful is her calling. It’s […]

Getting what you want

A tweet I saw today made me aware of this poem, written when the author was dying of cancer: Late Fragment By Raymond Carver And did you get what you wanted from life, even so? I did. And what did you want? To call myself beloved, to feel myself beloved on the Earth. Simple. Direct. […]

The only competition that matters

“Oh my soul, do not aspire to immortal life, but exhaust the limits of the possible.” –Pindar “As long as you live, keep learning how to live.” –Seneca “To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.” –Robert Louis Stevenson The only competition that […]

Only you

You have to live with the notion of, “If I don’t write this, no one’s going to write it. If I die, this idea dies with me. –Lin Manuel Miranda What potentially great idea are you keeping trapped within by your hesitation, caution, or fear? What problem can you help solve if only you’d take […]

How the world works

“What the pupil must learn, if he learns anything at all, is that the world will do most of the work for you, provided you cooperate with it by identifying how it really works and aligning with those realities. If we do not let the world teach us, it teaches us a lesson.” –Joseph Tussman […]

Road trip feast

On a family road trip, hungry for a quick dinner, thinking we’re stuck with fast food… And Google leads us to this gem of a pizza place just off the interstate in Greensboro, NC—Cugino Forno. According to the menu at least, the wood-fired ovens are made from “the volcanic sand of Mt. Vesuvius”. Pretty authentic, […]

To live in the hearts of those we love

Today is my mom’s birthday. She would have been 76. I haven’t been able to celebrate with her in a dozen years. But I haven’t stopped celebrating her. She was the joy of our whole extended family. The heartbeat, the rock, the radiant smile, the mischievous twinkle, the remarkable kindness. I’m not one to dwell […]

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