Roosevelt on Effort & Failure

Jerry Mitchell, who is a special guy here in Chicago for his decades of helping entrepreneurs, just had his 70th birthday. He recently told that Teddy Roosevelt said one of his favorite quotes about perserverence and effort which I really liked:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong
man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The
credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred
by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes
short again and again, because there is no effort without error and
shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great
enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who
at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the
worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place
shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor
defeat.”
— Teddy Roosevelt

I’m Back: Pausch Lecture

"The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough."  — Randy Pausch

Well, I am back after a prolonged absence. With the Holidays, several company sales and New Year efforts, I had trouble finding time to post. Once you begin to drift, it is easy for habit and firedrills to take over. I did enjoy one comment from a reader who asked "Is this blog dead because of the credit crisis?". The good news is that we don’t use much leverage in venture, so the blog is back.

I have my mother-in-law to thank for bumping me out of blogging retirement. She sent me an article to read from the WSJ "A Beloved Professor Delivers The Lecture of a Lifetime". In academics, professors will do "Last Lectures" in which they give parting words of advice as if they were dying. Well, Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon has pancreatic cancer and actually is dying. Rather than feeling sorry for himself or dropping deeply into depression, he decided to pull a presentation together for his three young children. He gives an amazingly motivational talk that I think all entrepreneurs should see. It has an incredibly deep array of messages in such a short period of time.

The Power in Serving Others

“Act so as to elicit the best in others and thereby in thyself.”
              — Felix Adler

If you are into postings about inspiration, self-improvement or resiliency, Brian Kim does a good job with his posts at BrianKim.Net. It is one of the blogs that I track in this category and he has written a variety of interesting pieces such as the one on How to Find What You Love to Do.

As you may have noticed in some of my posts, I am a Karma fan. Good deeds and helping others creates a virtuous cycle. One of his more recent posts, The Power in Serving Others, has a simple message. It is not just the act, but the intent that counts. Random, selfless acts of kindness oil the wheels.

"You can call this whatever you want – helping others, going the extra mile, caring, but what it all boils down to is really serving others because you genuinely want to without expecting anything in return.

Serving others in it of itself is a powerful opportunity to help and when you start to serve others, you’ll realize the simple fact that we all need help and because you realize that, you’ll start to get in the habit of serving others even more. Imagine the avalanche of opportunities that fall into your lap then.

Develop the habit of serving because you genuinely want to, follow through, and you’ll be amazed at the opportunities that come into your life."

Too many of us get stuck in the trap of trying to dish out our help based on what we can expect back in return. The pure opportunities are those where you are not even thinking about yourself and you are helping others that can, in no likely way, return the favor. Help the poor, help the child, help the entrepreneur, pay the toll for the person behind you…you get the idea. It just gets banked in the Karma account. So, "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty", as coined by Anne Herbert…