Thursday, November 26, 2015

My favorite quotes from the books I read in 2015

Are you ready for a really really long blog post? Here some of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite books of 2015 (yes, what I am saying that this post could have been even longer).

I am always grateful for the joy of reading. I believe books help us become better humans. As I continue to be shaped by my life experiences, I am relying on the wisdom of books to guide me through life and be my teachers.

#1 quote of the year is from the book called “Man’s search for meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl

“The truth—that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.”

Enjoy (at your own pace)!  

Three Daughters: A Novel by Consuelo Saah Baehr

She wanted to remember how it felt to be engulfed by his body, a sensation so thrilling it blotted out conscience and duty.

She exhaled deeply, letting go of a life that was no more than a pale constricted dream. She was a woman now. She was suffused with her sense of femaleness.

Miriam, you have the gift of acceptance, but also the will to take the difficult road.

There comes a point when—no matter how grievous the loss—the innate will of the body and mind to flourish takes over.  

With no large event to mark its passing, time had less meaning.

But now, today, she felt emotionally murky. It was resentment of such long standing she could barely guess at the true origin.

She had a private smile—not broad in any sense—just a little folding in of her lips.

Their marriage had appeared so arbitrary—a girl from this household and a boy from that one. They hadn’t chosen each other out of love or necessity. Yet despite that, he had decided to adore her.

She was married but she didn’t feel married.

“Perfect love,” he had once said to her, “is what parents feel for a child. It’s love that wants nothing back.”
We must take things hard that are hard but also go forward and not ask too many questions.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

He seemed to live in a state of uninterrupted marvel, and he encouraged them to do the same.

So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?

I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.

Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction.

Basically, your fear is like a mall cop who thinks he’s a Navy SEAL: He hasn’t slept in days, he’s all hopped up on Red Bull, and he’s liable to shoot at his own shadow in an absurd effort to keep everyone “safe.” This is all totally natural and human.

I believe that creativity is a force of enchantment—not entirely human in its origins.

Most of my writing life consists of nothing more than unglamorous, disciplined labor. I sit at my desk and I work like a farmer, and that’s how it gets done. Most of it is not fairy dust in the least. But sometimes it is fairy dust.

Your own reasons to create are reason enough. Merely by pursuing what you love, you may inadvertently end up helping us plenty.

There’s probably never going to be any such thing in your life or mine as “an arts emergency.”

You must learn how to become a deeply disciplined half-ass. It starts by forgetting about perfect. We don’t have time for perfect. In any event, perfection is unachievable

The most evil trick about perfectionism, though, is that it disguises itself as a virtue.

Done Is Better Than Good!

Do what you love to do, and do it with both seriousness and lightness.

I did not leap into that book with my hair on fire; I inched toward it, clue by clue.

Interesting outcomes, after all, are just awful outcomes with the volume of drama turned way down.

I think the fiercest question of all is this one: What would you do even if you knew that you might very well fail?

Power Questions: Build Relationships, Win New Business, and Influence Others by Andrew Sobel, Jerold Panas

I'm thinking that some folks aren't hard of hearing. They're hard of listening.

The four words I want him to say are, ‘What do you think?

Thoreau wrote in his journal: “The greatest compliment was paid to me today. Someone asked me what I thought and actually attended to my answer.”

Why do you do what you do?

Problems are like an ice cream cone. If you don't lick them, they cause a mess.

What in your life has given you the greatest fulfillment?”

A sense of fulfillment is different from a feeling of accomplishment or happiness. Fulfillment comes from achieving your hopes and dreams. It reflects a state of completeness or wholeness.

Are there any issues we haven't discussed that you think are relevant to this particular challenge?

Absorbed by the details of our day-to-day lives, we are rarely allowed to dream. Invite a friend or loved one to share their heart with you. Ask: “What are your dreams?

I'm thinking that a difficult experience is often the best education, but sometimes the tuition is very high.

If you had to write your obituary today, what would you like it to say about you and your life?

Never, ever interrupt a productive silence!

What decisions do we need to make today?

Drucker's Five Questions in Your Personal Life 1. What is your mission? 2. Which are the most important relationships you want to invest in? 3. What are the essential priorities and goals of those closest to you? 4. What are your expectations of the people around you, and what do they expect of you? 5. What is your plan?

The American Lady (The Glassblower Trilogy Book 2) by Petra Durst-Benning
 “New York is a work of art in its own right. There are no new worlds to discover in this day and age, but this world-class city is the work of human hands. A work in progress. And each and every one of us should feel grateful to be a part of it.”

She found her thoughts wandering all over the place like paper boats drifting on a pond. It was a strange feeling, and she didn’t quite know whether she even liked it.

The Glassblower (The Glassblower Trilogy Book 1) by Petra Durst-Benning

 “Customers are like whores,” he told her once. “They’re there to be taken. And if you don’t take them, then someone else will come along and do so.” He peered at Johanna as he spoke. “You can do whatever you like with a customer, anything at all—except one thing: never let him leave without closing

“How others perceive us is entirely up to us. A man is what he makes of himself. He can be treated with respect and goodwill, or he can be crushed underfoot like a worm. If you want to be successful in the world of trade and commerce, then you must look successful. It rests in your hands.

True love is much stronger than us mortals. It stops us from being scared of what tomorrow may bring.

The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results by Brent Adamson, Pat Spenner, Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman

Emphasis on collaborative decision making is increasing in an attempt to reap the benefits of diverse perspectives on business issues

It turns out, the far bigger story isn’t about suppliers’ struggle to sell solutions, it’s the customer’s struggle to buy them.

this is no longer a single sale, but a serial sale, each one a little different and carefully positioned to each stakeholder.

Remember, the goal isn’t so much to convince someone to buy a solution but, rather, to persuade them to change their behavior.

Insight, in other words, isn’t designed just to teach customers something new that they’ve never thought before, but to unteach them something


 “We have to teach our customers that the pain of same is greater than the pain of change.”

Commercial Insight isn’t an individual sales technique nearly as much as organizational commercial strategy.

The Color of Secrets by Lindsay Jayne Ashford

Some things are too painful to put into words.

She felt as if he had turned her body inside out, found her soul and set it free.

It doesn’t make any difference that I’m not your real dad. I’m real in all the ways that matter

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer

The truth is that most of life will unfold in accordance with forces far outside your control, regardless of what your mind says about it.

If you spend your time hoping that it doesn’t rain tomorrow, you are wasting your time.

Eventually you will see that the real cause of problems is not life itself. It’s the commotion the mind makes about life that really causes problems.

What you end up experiencing is really a personal presentation of the world according to you, rather than the stark, unfiltered experience of what is really out there.

Consciousness is the highest word you will ever utter. There is nothing higher or deeper than consciousness. Consciousness is pure awareness.

One of these great saints, Ramana Maharshi, used to ask, “Who am I?” We see now that this is a very deep question. Ask it ceaselessly, constantly. Ask it and you will notice that you are the answer. There is no intellectual answer—you are the answer. Be the answer, and everything will change.

What you’ll see, if you watch carefully, is that you have a phenomenal amount of energy inside of you. It doesn’t come from food and it doesn’t come from sleep. This energy is always available to you. At any moment you can draw upon it. It just wells up and fills you from inside. When you’re filled with this energy, you feel like you could take on the world. When it is flowing strongly, you can actually feel it

There is a very simple method for staying open. You stay open by never closing. It’s really that simple. All you have to do is decide whether you are willing to stay open, or whether you think it’s worth closing.

What it means to live life is to experience the moment that is passing through you, and then experience the next moment, and then the next.

You are protecting your ego, your self-concept.

So you decide to use life to free yourself. You become willing to pay any price for the freedom of your soul. You will realize that the only price you have to pay is letting go of yourself.

Fear doesn’t want to feel itself; it’s actually afraid of itself.

Life is continuously changing, and if you’re trying to control it, you’ll never be able to fully live it. Instead of living life, you’ll be afraid of life.

The purpose of spiritual evolution is to remove the blockages that cause your fear.

People end up using their relationships to hide their thorns. If you care for each other, you are expected to adjust your behavior to avoid bumping into each other’s soft spots. This is what people do. They let the fear of their inner thorns affect their behavior.

How do you free yourself? In the deepest sense, you free yourself by finding yourself.

You don’t have to get rid of loneliness; you just cease to be involved with it. Bottom of Form

You are either trying to stop suffering, controlling your environment to avoid suffering, or worrying about suffering in the future. This state of affairs is so prevalent that you don’t see it, just as a fish doesn’t see the water.

The body is communicating through its universal language: pain. Your psyche is communicating through its universal language: fear.

Every time you get into your car, as you’re settling into the seat, just stop. Take a moment to remember that you’re spinning on a planet in the middle of empty space.

Walk outside on a clear night and just look up into the sky. You are sitting on a planet spinning around in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Though you can only see a few thousand stars, there are hundreds of billions of stars in our Milky Way Galaxy alone.

In truth, pain is the price of freedom.

You are not your thoughts; you are aware of your thoughts. You are not your emotions; you feel your emotions.

The question was, very simply, “Do you want to be happy or not?” If you keep it that simple, you will see that it really is under your control. It’s just that you have a deep-seated set of preferences that gets in the way.

You will be surprised to find that in most situations there’s nothing to deal with except for your own fears and desires. Fear and desire make everything seem so complicated. If you don’t have fear or desire about an event, there’s really nothing to deal with. You simply allow life to unfold and interact with it in a natural and rational manner. When the next thing happens, you’re fully present in that moment and simply enjoying the experience of life.

So start using every day to let go of that scared part of you that won’t let you live life fully. Since you know you’re going to die, be willing to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done.

Life itself is your career, and your interaction with life is your most meaningful relationship.

What actually gives life meaning is the willingness to live it.

To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

Attunement is the ability to bring one’s actions and outlook into harmony with other people and with the context you’re in. Think of it as operating the dial on a radio.
Assume that you’re not the one with power.

Seligman calls “flexible optimism—optimism with its eyes open.”

If I don’t know my problem, I might need some help finding it.

People often find potential more interesting than accomplishment because it’s more uncertain, the researchers argue.

Sales and theater have much in common. Both take guts. Salespeople pick up the phone and call strangers; actors walk onto the stage in front of them. Both invite rejection—for salespeople, slammed doors, ignored calls, and a pile of nos; for actors, a failed audition

Listening without some degree of intimacy isn’t really listening.

Genuine listening is a bit like driving on a rain-slicked highway. Speed kills. If you want to get to your destination, you’re better off decelerating and occasionally hitting the brake.  

The idea here isn’t to win. It’s to learn.

Alfred Fuller intuited years before improv was ever invented. “Never argue,” he wrote. “To win an argument is to lose a sale.”

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting,

It’s this: that at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.

The Soul of the World is nourished by people’s happiness.

“All things are one,” the old man had said.

Sometimes, there’s just no way to hold back the river.

One is loved because one is loved. No reason is needed for loving.

There is only one way to learn,” the alchemist answered. “It’s through action. Everything you need to know you have learned through your journey. You need to learn only one thing more.”

It said that all people who are happy have God within them.

If a person is living out his Personal Legend, he knows everything he needs to know. There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure

When we love, we always strive to become better than we are

Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behavior.

The truth—that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.

The salvation of man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved.

Love goes very far beyond the physical person of the beloved. It finds its deepest meaning in his spiritual being, his inner self. Whether or not he is actually present, whether or not he is still alive at all, ceases somehow to be of importance.

The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.

No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.

Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

If there is a meaning in life at all, then there must be a meaning in suffering. Suffering is an ineradicable part of life, even as fate and death.

Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual. These tasks, and therefore the meaning of life, differ from man to man, and from moment to moment. Thus it is impossible to define the meaning of life in a general way. Questions about the meaning of life can never be answered by sweeping statements. “Life” does not mean something vague, but something very real and concrete, just as life’s tasks are also very real and concrete. They form man’s destiny, which is different and unique for each individual. No man and no destiny can be compared with any other man or any other destiny. No situation repeats itself, and each situation calls for a different response.

When a man finds that it is his destiny to suffer, he will have to accept his suffering as his task; his single and unique task. He will have to acknowledge the fact that even in suffering he is unique and alone in the universe. No one can relieve him of his suffering or suffer in his place. His unique opportunity lies in the way in which he bears his burden.

But there was no need to be ashamed of tears, for tears bore witness that a man had the greatest of courage, the courage to suffer.

Human kindness can be found in all groups, even those which as a whole it would be easy to condemn.

From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two—the “race” of the decent man and the “race” of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere; they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense, no group is of “pure race”—and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards. Life in a concentration camp tore open the human soul and exposed its depths.

Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now

The more one forgets himself—by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love—the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself.

Love is the only way to grasp another human being in the innermost core of his personality. No one can become fully aware of the very essence of another human being unless he loves him.

Coaching for Improved Work Performance, Revised Edition by Ferdinand Fournies

The fact is, in the business world when you fire somebody, you actually suffer more than he or she does.

Business is one of the most undemocratic organizations in our democracy.

When you hire people as employees you do not buy people, or their bodies, or their brains, or their values. You merely rent their behavior. This might be broom-pushing behavior, word-processing behavior, code-writing behavior,

The reason this logical and most important first step is bypassed with employee problems is because managers assume the employee knows the problem exists.

Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Values by Fred Kofman

In Argentina we have a saying: “Nobody’s more blind that the one who doesn’t want to see.”

Nobody is immune from unconsciousness. The best way to deal with it is not to judge it, but to touch it with compassion and awareness.
There are no death camps in corporations, but many apparently successful companies hide great suffering in their basements. I have seen professional identities destroyed in meeting rooms through innuendo, rumors, and negative opinions.

I realized then that awareness is not a one-time decision. Staying conscious is an ongoing process that demands constant attention and commitment. I vowed to keep my eyes open and look beyond appearances.
I am who I am, and perfectly so. I am not perfect; I am perfectly imperfect in my own unique way. And so is everything.  

And they learned that when all is said and done, service to others is the highest spiritual and business imperative.

He is an intellectual wonder and a management disaster.

Living consciously is a state of being mentally active rather than passive. It is the ability to look at the world through fresh eyes. It is intelligence taking joy in its own function. Living consciously is seeking to be aware of everything that bears on our interests, actions, values, purposes, and goals. It is the willingness to confront facts, pleasant or unpleasant. It is the desire to discover our mistakes and correct them

Conscious employees take responsibility for their lives. They don’t compromise human values for material success. They speak their truth and listen to others’ truths with honesty and respect. They look for creative solutions to disagreements and honor their commitments impeccably.

Blame is a tranquilizer. It soothes the blamer, sheltering him from accountability for his life. But like any drug, its soothing effect quickly turns sour, miring him in resignation

The questions to elicit the story of the player are: 1 What challenge did you face? 2 How did you contribute (by acting or not acting) to create this situation? 3 How did you respond to the challenge? 4 Can you think of a more effective course of action you could have taken? 5 Could you have made some reasonable preparations to reduce the risk or the impact of the situation? 6 Can you do something now to minimize or repair the damage? 7 What can you learn from this experience?

Only a conscious leader can evoke the spirit of unconditional responsibility in each of her followers and in her organization as a whole.

Your behavior always expresses your values-in-action.

Your integrity hinges on whether your values-in-action agree with your essential values. When they do, you feel pride. When they do not, you feel guilt

The difference between saying it and doing it boils down to a single word: discipline.

Discipline is the capacity to maintain awareness and choose consciously in the face of instinctual pressures.

One of the hallmarks of ontological arrogance is that you don’t distinguish your identity from your opinions. You assume that your thoughts and your self are one and the same.

An opinion is toxic when it masquerades as a fact.

Person can usually “smell” your toxic opinions behind your facade of politeness.

Most difficult conversations involve doubts about the way we relate to each other. Typical questions are, Are we close? Are we aligned? Do we have a common purpose? Are we cooperating? Can we trust each other? Do we respect each other? Have there been betrayals or breakdowns that threaten our relationship? How do I feel about you? How do you feel about me? What should I do about you and your feelings? What should you do about me and my feelings?

When criticism meets defensiveness, it turns into contempt.

Intimacy is often as frightening as conflict.

Majority rule is four wolves and a sheep voting on what’s for dinner.

Scarcity creates interdependence, which in turn creates conflict.

The problem is that we take our opinions to be more than simply our view of the world; we think of them as an accurate description of the world. Furthermore, we identify with our opinions

In these “dead” marriages, spouses continue to live together but are emotionally estranged. Some of these couples openly agree to stay together for the sake of the children,

Emotions are good advisors, but terrible masters.

Every time we block an emotion we incur an emotional debt, which sooner or later we have to pay—with high interest.

 “Would” opens a conversation, while “should” closes it.

If you forgive out of a sense of superiority or pity, you are confusing forgiveness with arrogance.

Challenging others’ emotions makes them feel judged, misunderstood, and disrespected. In extreme cases, it can make them doubt their sanity.

Awareness is irreversible. Once you start seeing, you can’t pretend to be blind.

Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim

Remember how I always have my mama’s love in my heart? Well, you gonna always have my love in your heart to guide you. You smart and you strong and you have a good heart, Lisbeth. You gonna be all right

She was disoriented without the anchor in her life.

She thought her heart was already as full as it could get, but she was wrong. There was more to feel.

Edge of Eternity (The Century Trilogy, Book 3) by Ken Follett

They’re not all narrow-minded. Some are working hard to change things. Give us time. The revolution was forty years ago. How much time do you need before you finally admit that Communism is a failure?

International politics is like a glass. Aggressive moves by either side pour water in. The overflow is war.
Sometimes the Soviet Union was more like a medieval monastery where everyone had taken vows of poverty and obedience.

I’ve heard that restaurants in the United States open when people want food and drinks, not when the staff want to work,” said Natalya. “Do you think it’s true?” “Probably just propaganda,” said Dimka.

Sex with the one you love is the second-best thing in the world,” Maud had said to Walli. Somehow a grandmother could say things that a mother could not. “If that’s second best, what’s first?” he had asked. “Seeing your children happy.”

Four years after leaving the Soviet bloc he still marveled at the abundance of food in America: big steaks, juicy hamburgers, piles of French fries, mountainous crisp salads, thick milk shakes, all for next to nothing, and coffee with free refills!

Gorbachev has taken the lid off a boiling pot,” he said, slowly and distinctly. Then he added: “The steam may be painful, but change is irreversible.”

The most striking characteristic of Soviet leadership for the last sixty-five years was the refusal to face facts.

Destiny of Souls: New Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton

And so it is a soul’s destiny to search for truth in their experiences in order to gain wisdom.

[…] life is anything but meaningless. We know if we hold a rock in our hand it is as real to us as an observer-participant in a physical world. We must also keep in mind that a divine intelligence placed us in this environment to learn and grow for a greater good. None of us are here by accident and neither are those events which affect us in our own reality at this moment in time

People in deep hypnosis explain that musical thought is the language of souls.

Karma is more than taking proper actions toward others, it is also having the intention to do so.

Searching for who you really are is getting in touch with your inner Self and bringing passion and meaning into what you do in life.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

She’d never believed in God, except when she heard children singing.

All conflict can be traced back to someone’s feelings getting hurt, don’t you think? Divorce. World wars. Legal action.

She’s impossible to hate. I’m very good at hating people, and even I find it difficult. I really have to put my heart and soul into it.

It’s like their religion. They’re fundamentalist mothers.

It was all so beautiful she felt like she could taste it

Every day I think, ‘Gosh, you look a bit tired today,’ and it’s just recently occurred to me that it’s not that I’m tired, it’s that this is the way I look now.

Oh, Lord, I don’t want the recipe, I just want the muffins.

If she packaged the perfect Facebook life, maybe she would start to believe it herself. She could shrink her fears down into innocuous little status updates that drifted away on the news feeds of her friends.

She lived in a house where every single room silently screamed: WE HAVE A LOT OF MONEY. PROBABLY MORE THAN YOU.

Her husband had always been so fair, except for those times when he was monstrously unfair.