A Mixed Bag of 10 Thoughts, Quoted

I collect quotations from various places. Books and online. I make notes on the stuff I read every day.

I thought I’d drop 10 examples your way in this post. Just because. Maybe something will inspire or interest you further.

You never know when a comment here and an example there can come in handy. I also collect random stories that are of no use at the moment, but are quirky. When the right time comes along, I use the stories to inject some fun into a piece of writing.

Always be on the lookout for inspiration. You may find nothing of interest in the examples below. But when you see anything that makes you stop and think, it’s worth making a note of it. The more you can collect, the more you have at your disposal later on.

Note it down. Save it for later.

Collecting little thoughts is one way you can start to make good use out of what you consume.

10 Thoughts, Quoted


“You will find the future wherever people are having the most fun.”

From the Introduction to Wonderland by Steven Johnson

In other words, get playful!



“Ultimately innovation is local. You have a problem to fix, a group who want to solve it, and you come together in a common space to work it out.”

I like how the ‘local’ doesn’t always have to be in terms of physical placement.



“…holding on to the idea that willpower is a limited resource can actually be bad for you, making you more likely to lose control and act against your better judgment.”

Willpower is limited if you think it is. I will you to keep going!



“If takers are selfish and failed givers are selfless, successful givers are otherish: they care about benefiting others, but they also have ambitious goals for advancing their own interests.” – p.182

From Give and Take by Adam Grant

Giving is wonderful, so long as you remember to give to yourself at the same time.



“A sociologist at the University of Chicago surveyed the references cited in a database of 34 million scientific articles. He analyzed the citations with respect to whether the articles cited were available online. The more journals became digitally available, the more recent the references became, and the narrower their scope.” – p.61

From Words Onscreen by Naomi S. Baron

The book was published in 2016. That feels like ages ago…



“Student loan policy wonks have always assumed that if you provide guarantees and limit liability/risk on student loans, then students will be ok with debt.  But if the facts of the policy don’t change people’s attitudes about risk, then the policies will fail, no matter how well they deal with the actual problems at hand.”

This is just as relevant for parents too. The idea of debt, no matter how it’s presented, is too much for some. Especially when there have been past problems with more traditional debts, or they have spent their life avoiding debt. What do you think those parents will say to their children who want to go to university?



“Podcasting is sometimes dismissed as nothing more than radio in your ears, on your own schedule, but I beg to differ. It’s far more intimate than traditional radio. And news organizations that realize the power of this intimacy will likely have an advantage in the long run.”

On-demand audio for the win.



“Humans live peacefully with contradictions precisely because of their capacity to compartmentalise. And when contradictory statements, actions or emotions jump out of their contextual box, we are very good, perhaps too good, at finding justifications to soothe cognitive dissonance.”

But when you recognise this, you can use the abundance of contradiction in wonderful ways too. Embrace the push and pull.



“Crucially, our ‘social orientation’ appears to spill over into more fundamental aspects of reasoning. People in more collectivist societies tend to be more ‘holistic’ in the way they think about problems, focusing more on the relationships and the context of the situation at hand, while people in individualistic societies tend to focus on separate elements, and to consider situations as fixed and unchanging.”

Specific generalisations. The article has some thought-provoking stuff.



A reason why conservatives tend to use nouns more than liberals is because nouns outline greater stability. Describing someone using nouns “implies more certainty and permanence about their state of being”.

Pay attention to how people describe things. Do they “feel positive”, or are they “a positive person”? You may get a better insight when you listen to how the sentences are constructed as well as what’s being said.


Think of the little thoughts and stories you collect as stepping stones. Each step can take you closer to new ideas.

Over to you. It’s time to create out of what you curate.

EduLinks – 26 August 2011

“If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we are dumber than our forebears but because we just don’t care as much about ideas as they did. In effect, we are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.


“The post-idea world has been a long time coming, and many factors have contributed to it. There is the retreat in universities from the real world, and an encouragement of and reward for the narrowest specialization rather than for daring — for tending potted plants rather than planting forests.”

The importance of ideas

What you read and retain has a potential bearing on what you read and retain after that.  The ongoing, holistic process is what gives each of us a unique viewpoint.  No wonder we have such varied opinions.  With a general election campaign in full swing, you can’t avoid opinions.  Personal views, official lines, big picture analysis, minor point evaluation…

Opinions are important because they help shape our ideas.  Reading is also important because we learn about other opinions and ideas in the process.  We can’t form our own conclusions if we don’t read about other ideas out there.

Ideas are important too.  Without ideas, progress isn’t made, change doesn’t happen, much of human development stops.

original photo by farleyj

original photo by farleyj

But ideas can’t go anywhere unless they are realised and actioned.  And you can’t action anything without the initial idea:

“Ideas make the world, for they are the guide to future practice.  Even the flimsiest ideas rooted in prejudice and ignorance make history and form public culture…Ideas, when mobilised, become the templates of thought and practice.” [Ash Amin & Michael O’Neill in Thinking About Almost Everything]

When you put your mind to work — whatever the focus — don’t be afraid of what you think.  You may stumble upon something brilliant.  Your education is an opportunity to discover and let your mind wander.  Will your ideas fit in with what has already been, with what is to come, or with nothing at all?

You’ll probably discard the majority of your ideas.  That’s no bad thing.  The more ideas you have, the more you should expect to pass by.  Luckily, you should hold on to more ideas too.

Don’t worry about what you’re doing.  You can’t please everyone.  Many successful ideas look unworkable or unpopular until they go beyond the idea.  As they get a life of their own, what once sounded ridiculous can end up changing the world.

Whether you’re studying in the humanities, the sciences or something entirely different, ideas are crucial.  As Ash Amin and Michael O’Neill explain, university is the home of ideas:

“The very ethos of what defines a university is currently a matter of debate.  It is critical that scholarship, education, and thinking about better ways of living and doing things are all central to what a university should be.  We should not confuse ‘teaching’ – repackaging and dissemination of existing ideas – with education and scholarship, which generate new ideas and open the minds of leaders of the future.  It is no accident that one of the first targets of any extremist regime is the university.  The ideas it generates are central to the future of our civilisation and society.” [From Thinking About Almost Everything]

More now than ever, life carries us along so quickly.  With instant updates and so much on offer, many of us have a fear of missing out.

Every now and then you should stop and think in your own time.  You don’t need to reel off amazing ideas that will change the world, but isn’t it good just to step off the world for a few minutes?

When you get back on, enjoy seeing things differently.

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Change, Take Action, Forge Ideas, and Drive

I hope you enjoyed my recent six-part series on Time.  However, the path to success in your studies – and beyond – goes further than effective time management.

Life is unpredictable.  Whether or not you plan into the future, you still want to exercise control over that future.  However, an unexpected event can dramatically alter the course of your life, whether you like it or not.  A change in popular trends, a personal tragedy, an oversight with timely consequences…anything can reshape what’s going on and thrust you in a different place to where you’d expected.  And where you’d calculated.  And which you saw with total certainty until now.

So what’s the point in being so rigid?  Yes, planning is necessary for success…

But so is accepting change.

You may even change yourself.  Scott Young mentions on his site that he’s stopped setting long-term goals, because everyone changes so much so quickly.  If you read what he says, you’ll understand why one of the craziest job interview questions is, “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?”

Manage time effectively by initially narrowing your scope, not widening it. Long-term goals are one thing, but they should be based on general ideas.  To achieve those goals, you need to see in smaller chunks of time.

University is definitely a time of massive change to you.  Even a long-term childhood passion can fade away, in place of an even bigger passion.  If you don’t have a passion, it may start developing while you’re an undergraduate.  It’s all to play for.

The best way to focus on the need for change is to review on a regular basis. Review your short-term plans, long-term goals (if you have any right now), and all your personal passions.  Without noticing, you may find that what you held dear last year now leaves you cold.

Once you accept change with open arms, the next thing to do is to *take action*.

You could have the best idea in the world since the dawn of time.  But if you don’t take action to process that idea until it becomes reality, you might as well have not come up with the idea in the first place.

Ideas are funny things.  When you accept change and take action, you still need to go further.  Harvard Business posted an interesting piece a few days back, about structuring experiments for success.  One striking piece of advice is:

“Executives and university administrators should stop trying to predict the success of very early ideas, instead they need to be sure they have enough of them and that their pool of ideas is diverse.”

The suggestion shouldn’t be limited to executives and administrators; I think it’s sound advice, whoever you are.

It’s like when I write.  If I only had a single idea, I wouldn’t last long before running out of steam.  I have a wide range of post ideas on the go at all times.  I write all sorts of notes and even full drafts of posts that, in the end, don’t go anywhere.  I’ll keep them for when it makes sense to bring them out again, but that’s why ideas are so great.  The more you feel for ideas, map out your thoughts and write about all your little lightbulb moments, the better.  Be aware of your ideas at all times to give yourself the best chance of developing.

So far, so positive.  Yet even with a huge list of amazing ideas, you still can’t control everything about your future.  Luckily, you are the very person who can drive it.

That’s the next step.  You’re willing to change, you want to take action, you have ideas.  Now drive!

The poet, Philip Larkin, wrote these words:

“And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
To exist.”

[From Continuing to Live (1954)]

There is so much calling out for your attention, but it’s up to you to filter until you’re left with what you need to succeed.  This is where the big picture really comes into play.  Your life doesn’t roll down a single track and you’re bound to have loads of responsibilities, interests, mates, and so on that you want to make a big part of your existence.

Armed with the want to change, a readiness for action, ideas and drive, your priorities should be crystal clear.  With such clarity, you’ll have more time to enjoy.

So if you ever find yourself at a loss, without a structure, lacking a goal, or lacking control, it’s time to let go of some of the junk cluttering your life.  It may have seemed important a while back, but when you focus on too many things to cope, you might as well not focus on anything at all.