Friday, April 29, 2011

Does work mean love to you?

Probably one of the most inspiring talks I've ever heard on TED.

I never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk before yesterday, but his absolute passion comes through in this video. He's definitely in your face, but to be honest, what really isn't these days? It's an in your face you need to hear!

Why aren't you doing what you love today, and what's holding you back?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What happens when you open the Chamber of Secrets?

I believe it's important to have a handful of positive and purposeful role models in order to identify characteristics to aspire to and possibly emulate. Positive role models can make big dreams seem tangible - often enough they have put their own big dreams into reality. They provide a great way to truly know that big dreams are achievable. I believe they can also help you figure out how you want to present yourself to the world and your purpose in life. However, positive role models don't have to be larger-than-life, colossal beings of mankind...they can be as simple as your mum, your teacher, your friend. Keep in mind though, all role models come with a disclaimer that echoes Judy Garland: always be a first rate version of yourself, instead of a second rate version of someone else.

I have many positive role models for different aspects of my life, and I hope to pay tribute to them in this blog from time to time. Today, though, I want to mention a role model whom I believe embodies the spirit of a strong, confident, and against-all-odds type of woman: JK Rowling.

I first "met" JK Rowling in my Year 7 English class, when Ben gave a book report presentation on "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone". I had heard about Harry Potter and had already decided that I would not enjoy those kind of books - under no circumstances was I going to read them. One day though, my dad came back from a trip to England and brought with him the first two books of the series. Generally we got new books, I would grab them and devour them - since I was a much faster reader than my sister. This time though, she was having none of it, and claimed the first book. I hadn't yet mastered any semblance of patience, so I started reading the second book (which is heavily dependent on the plot line of the first book), was pretty much confused throughout the whole thing, but still loved it! I finally just took the first book from Leanne, and born was another believer in Harry Potter. I cannot even tell you the number of times I have read the Harry Potter books. I cried so much during the 7th book, because I grew up with those characters...they were my friends and it hurt so much when some of them died.

There are very few books and authors that can make you feel the way that JK Rowling does. The feeling of being completley lost in a book is something that I've experienced less and less as I've grown older - I think it's partially because I have less belief in the fantasy world, and the authors these days are just not cutting it. Take a look at Twilight! I love reading, and that automatically makes JK Rowling a heroine of mine. She's right up there with Louisa May Alcott!

However, JK Rowling is so much more than an author. She has a story of true perserverance and that showcases how far the belief in one little idea can take you. She faced tragedy through her mother's death, and the disintegration of her first marriage; when Harry Potter waltzed into her life she was poor. Under those circumstances to have the courage to write a book is truly admirable.

I remember one time she wrote a post for girls on her website. She had gone to a party, and an acquaintance that she hadn't seen for some time commented on how much weight she had lost. This completely baffled JK Rowling because she felt that it was so superficial - she had published books in that time, gotten married, and all the other woman could see was the weight loss. JK Rowling wrote in her post how she wanted more than that for her daughters - she wanted them to not be focused on their weight, but instead to focus on having accomplishments, and being creative. I think that's something that should be emphasised more in today's society.

I also love how down-to-earth JK Rowling still is, even though she's one of the richest people in Europe. She is truly inspiring, and I wish that there were many more strong women out there like her!

Friday, April 15, 2011

What ticks your clock?

I often ask myself: What gets me ticking? What inspires me to wake up in the morning and just be?! 

One would think that at 23 I would be able to answer those questions. Disappointingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, I'm not quite able to. I take comfort in the fact that people much older than me are still asking themselves those same questions, and still have no answers. I have also decided to ignore the fact that people younger than me have very convincing and well-thought-out responses. 

When I ask myself those questions words like...ambition, positivity, violin, and tennis spring to mind. Don't judge...those are just spur of the moment words, and let's keep in mind I'm writing this at 1.30 in the freaking am. Now I play the violin, well below my actual potential, and I used to play tennis. Ambition and positivity seem like good traits to have in one's life...but yea, I think it's pretty sad if that's all that comes to mind. I was hoping by now that I would have discovered my life's passion, and just go forth with that. Maybe those random words are really a signal telling me I really need to figure it out. 

I always mean to sit down and think about what gets me going in life, and then apply it. While I suppose writing a post like this one isn't really the way to address the situation, at least I'm putting it in the forefront of my brain. I especially want to figure out what gets me going as a graduate student. I've sat down a few times and kind of half-assed this...but I've never really figured out the whole thing. I have made up my mind to make a concerted effort to, at least, figure out those questions in regards to graduate school - I made the first step this morning by e-mailing a couple of profs I know for a sit down talk on graduate school advice. I hate asking for advice, so this is a big step for me - it always scares me that people will think I'm not very clever or that I've thought about asking for advice too late. It's important to face fear though. Hopefully they don't mind talking to me, and give me some useful information that I can benefit from!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Coach John Wooden - words of wisdom

A couple of weeks ago I watched a TED talk given by Coach John Wooden on the true meaning of success. I was absolutely riveted by this calm and composed 91 year old man (at the time of the talk) imparting his life’s wisdom on what it means to be successful.

For those of you who don’t know, Coach Wooden is considered to be the greatest basketball coach – as the head coach of UCLA, he won 10 NCAA championships in 12 years, just one aspect of his many great achievements.

He defined success in a completely unique way: “Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.” Now that’s a version of success that I had never heard before! To me, success always meant achieving A+’s, making lots of money, having beautiful possessions…and being happy. Except from the last part, all my visualizations of success have been oriented around material possessions and outdoing other people. John Wooden also lived by the words of his father, who said: don’t worry about whether you’re better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can become. Our society places such great emphasis on being better than others – but it’s true, what one person achieves doesn’t really affect the contribution you have made or the success that you have achieved. I struggle a lot with the constant need to compare myself and my progress against others. I continually do it at the lab, and sometimes it drives me insane, especially when I see others advance for apparently no reason – but I realize I should focus on being the best that I can be, and leave others to be the best that they can be.

I highly recommend this talk, if only to question why our society doesn’t focus more on success at a personal level.