Words to Live By

I’ve curated the quotes below as my personal repository of thoughts to reflect upon. Some I find in books, or speeches… others are from interactions I have with the people in my life. I invite you to review them, and hope that you might get to know me a bit better as a result.


Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way round or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend. -Bruce Lee

I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy… as cause for withdrawing from a friend. -Thomas Jefferson

Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind. – Bruce Lee

You can never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, you must build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete. -Buckminster Fuller

Sometimes I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us. – Calvin & Hobbes

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind. – Bob Marley

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The realist adjusts the sails. – William A. Ward

At the center of your being you have the answer, you know who you are and what you want. -Lao Tzu

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening mine. -Thomas Jefferson

Be a yardstick of quality. Some people are not used to an environment where excellence is expected. – Steve Jobs

The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where its compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun. – Napoleon Hill

Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and slaughters a visible Nature… without realizing that this Nature he slaughters is this invisible God he worships. – Hubert Reeves

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid. – Albert Einstein


Be one person to every person. -Reid Hankins

I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day. -E. B. White

Somewhere someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a seed long ago. – Warren Buffett

I have freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves. -Harriet Tubman

Fortune favors the bold. – Virgil

Nothing is as powerful as an idea whose time has come. – Victor Hugo

It’s not the sentiments of men which make history but their actions. – Norman Mailer

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. – John Wooden

Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible. ― Frank Zappa

A boat is safe in the harbor. But this is not the purpose of a boat. – Paulo Coelho

If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears. – Simon Sinek

The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible. -Arthur Clarke

There is no passion to be found in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. – Nelson Mandela

First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win. – Mahatma Ghandi

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

In order to predict the future, you have to invent it – Alan Kay

The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it. -Elbert Hubbard

Be careful what you seek, for that you shall surely find. – Julian Shull


One who breaks an unjust law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a president and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country. -Franklin Roosevelt

The best way to get a bad law repealed is to enforce it strictly. -Abraham Lincoln

Wars begin when you will, but they do not end when you please. – Niccolò Machiavelli

When the axe came into the woods, many of the trees said, “At least the handle is one of us”.  – Turkish Proverb

There are two modes of invading private property; the first, by which the poor plunder the rich … sudden and violent; the second, by which the rich plunder the poor, slow and legal. -John Taylor

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution. – John Adams

Information is the currency of democracy. – Thomas Jefferson

Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes the laws. – Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Censorship is telling a man he can’t have steak because a baby can’t chew it. – Mark Twain

Government can easily exist without laws, but law cannot exist without government. – Bertrand Russell

The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans. – Robert Kennedy

When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty. – Thomas Jefferson

They that can give up an essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. – Bertrand Russell

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable. -John F. Kennedy


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. -Leonardo da Vinci

You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around. – Steve Jobs

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see. – Arthur Schopenhauer

All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up. – Pablo Picasso

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses. – Henry Ford

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. – Steve Jobs

When you start looking at a problem and it seems really simple, you don’t really understand the complexity of the problem. Then you get into the problem, and you see that it’s really complicated, and you come up with all these convoluted solutions. That’s sort of the middle, and that’s where most people stop… But the really great person will keep on going and find the key, the underlying principle of the problem — and come up with an elegant, really beautiful solution that works. – Steve Jobs

Make things as simple as possible but no simpler. – Albert Einstein

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works. – Steve Jobs

Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service. – Steve Jobs

Question everything generally thought to be obvious. – Dieter Rams

Good design is making something intelligible and memorable. Great design is making something memorable and meaningful. – Dieter Rams


When you grow up you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family life, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact, and that is – everything around you that you call life, was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. The minute that you understand that you can poke life and actually something will, you know if you push in, something will pop out the other side, that you can change it, you can mold it. That’s maybe the most important thing. It’s to shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just gonna live in it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it. I think that’s very important and however you learn that, once you learn it, you’ll want to change life and make it better, cause it’s kind of messed up, in a lot of ways. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again. – Steve Jobs

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life. – Steve Jobs

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle. – Steve Jobs

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary. – Steve Jobs

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs

I feel very strongly that it’s not enough to just live in the world as it is – to just take what you’re given and follow the things that adults told you to do and your parents tell you to do and that society tells you to do. I think you should always be questioning. I take this very scientific attitude that everything you’ve ever learned is just provisional – that it’s always open to recantation or refutation or questioning and I think the same thing applies to society. I felt growing up that I slowly had this process of realizing that all the things around me that people had told me were just the natural way things were – the way things always would be – they weren’t natural at all. They were things that could be changed and they were things that, more importantly, were wrong and should change. Once I realized that, there was really no going back. -Aaron Swartz