Influences and Inspiration

Influences and InspirationsI read an interesting article some time ago about Viggo Mortensen and his influences.  Viggo is an actor of no mean accomplishment and a Watertown native.  He spent a number of his growing up years here in the North Country.  People who frequent neighboring Clayton see him from time to time as he comes back to visit family.

The article was not so much commentary as it was comprehensive lists.  Being a list junkie, I found it fascinating and invigorating.  You can read about it here.

I heard a wise speaker remark once that we are all composites of the people who influence our lives, whether directly or through their work.  I resonated with this observation and it helped put to bed the nagging urge to “be an original.”

So I thought I would list some of my own, collected over forty-eight years.  I’d be interested in yours if you choose to comment.

Guitarists:  Phil Keaggy, Julian Bream, Christopher Parkening, Jeff Beck, Alvin Lee, David Russell, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Brian May, Chuck Berry, Andres Segovia, John Williams, Earl Klugh, Larry Carlton, Ted Nugent, Paul O’Dette (lute), Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Slash, Steve Howe, Eric Clapton, Joe Fava, Konrad Ragossnig (lute), Tommy Emmanuel, David Gilmour, Rick Foster, Angel Romero, Wes Montgomery, Jacob Moon, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Anthony Phillips.  And many more.

Music, Artists, Performing Arts: Dan Fogelberg, Keith Green, Richard Souther, Elton John, The Allman Brothers, Paul Clark, The Beatles, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Donovan, Honeytree, Sara Groves, Vineyard Music, Maranatha Music, Hillsong Music, James Taylor, Larry Norman, John Michael Talbot, Yes, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Luciano Pavarotti, Frank Sinatra, Michael Buble, Jethro Tull, Randy Stonehill, The Eagles, Billy Joel, Kemper Crabb, Lamb, Peter, Paul & Mary, Michael Bublé, Queen, Simon & Garfunkel, Twila Paris, Yo-Yo Ma, Michael Card, Miles Davis, Bob Bennett, Twyla Tharp, Cat Stevens (Yusuf Islam), Brian Doerksen, Debby Boone, Kenny G, Norah Jones, Diana Panton, Andrea Bocelli, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Dave Brubeck, Ralph Sharon, Tony Bennett, Neil Young, Jascha Heifetz, Glenn Gould, Malcolm & Alwyn, Phil Ramone.  And many more.

Composers: Johann Sebastian Bach, John Dowland, Gaspar Sanz, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Erik Satie, G.F. Handel, Ludwig Von Beethoven, Jimmy Webb, Francesco Da Milano, Henry Purcell, Pyotr Illich Tchaikovsky, Harry Gregson-Williams, Domenico Scarlatti, Enrique Granados, Isaac Albeniz, Michael Praetorius, Joaquin Rodrigo, Antonin Dvorak, Ennio Morricone, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Jerry Goldsmith, Rachel Portman, Felix Mendelsohn, James Newton Howard, John Williams, Mychael Danna, Stephen Schwartz, George Gershwin. And many more.

Film: Al Pacino, Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Marlon Brando, Matt Damon, Robin Williams, Johnny Depp, Steve McQueen, Ben Kingsley, Anthony Hopkins, Liam Neeson, Sir Laurence Olivier, James Caan, Sean Connery, Harrison Ford, Alec Guinness, Steven Spielberg, Gus Van Zandt, Jim Caviezel, Franco Zeffirelli, Francis Ford Coppola.  And many more.

Writers: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Eugene Peterson, Morris West, C. S. Lewis, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Will & Ariel Durant, Viktor Frankl, Chaim Potok, Ralph McInerny, M. Scott Peck, J.R.R. Tolkien, Michael D. O’Brien, William Manchester, Dan Brown, Daniel Silva, Leo Tolstoy, Randy Alcorn, Joel Rosenberg, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Elie Wiesel, Sol Stein, Mitch Albom, Mortimer Adler, Will Strunk & E.B. White.  And many more.

Leadership and Self-Development:  Jim Rohn, Peter Drucker, Michael Gelb, John Maxwell, J. Oswald Sanders, Jack Canfield, Dean Karnazes, James Allen, Napoleon Hill, Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, Stephen Covey, Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, Warren Bennis, David Schwartz, Zig Ziglar, Warren Bennis. And a few more.

Politics and Economics:  George Will, Henry Kissinger, Abba Eban, Ronald Reagan, John Kenneth Galbraith, John F. Kennedy, George Schultz, Thomas Sowell.  And a few more.

Science and Technology:  Leonardo Da Vinci, Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, E.F. Codd, Stephen Hawking.  And a few more.

Enough for now.  Who inspires you in your talents, work, avocation, and hobbies?

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William Faulkner, Insight and Writing

“At one time I thought the most important thing was talent. I think now that the young man or the young woman must possess or teach himself, training himself, in infinite patience, which is to try and to try until it comes right. He must train himself in ruthless intolerance–that is to throw away anything that is false no matter how much he might love that page or that paragraph. The most important thing is insight, that is to be–curiosity–to wonder, to mull, and to muse why it is that man does what he does, and if you have that, then I don’t think the talent makes much difference, whether you’ve got it or not.”

–William Faulkner

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“Do The Math”

There’s a common saying in self-development that goes like this: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”

Axiomatic.  But it doesn’t always register.

My wife and I are laying out our long-term goals—as individuals, as a couple, as two people created by God with certain bents, acuities, desires, abilities.

And destinies.

One of the phrases we’ve used in recent years is “do the math.”  We’ve used this on ourselves.  We’ve employed it when guiding our children.  We’ve shared it with friends.

If you are passive.  If you don’t have goals.  If you don’t expend the effort to find out what your purpose in life is, you will spend your life working for those who do.  They have plans of their own.  And they are working to see them realized.  If you don’t chart your own course, you will spend your life fulfilling the plans of people who’ve charted theirs.  Why, they will even let you.  And what do they have planned for you?  As Jim Rohn has said, “Not much.”  Passivity exacts a terrible price.

Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

Doing the math means taking an honest appraisal of things—what you’re currently doing with your God-given skills, who you work for, the relationships you have and summoning the courage to see that, without being proactive, things will stay as they’ve always been.  The status quo blissfully undisturbed.

  • Girls, if a guy’s a bum now when you’re dating him—lazy, abusive, possessive—he’s not going to change if you marry him.  You’re better than that.  Move on.
  • If your company keeps you at low pay even after repeated promises of wage increase, you’re probably not going to get the raise.  Or if you do, it will be modest.  Update your resumé, pound the pavement and find something better.  Or go into business for yourself.
  • If the people you run with are pessimistic, complacent and perennial comfort zone inhabitants, they are affecting you.  If you spend a lot of time with them, you will become like them.  That is a law as certain as gravity. Modify your circle.

We’re excited to say the least.  There’s so much more ahead of us.  We are doing our dead-level best to own up to this reality: If we’re in the same spot in our growth in 5 years, we have only ourselves to blame.  Not God.  Not friends.  Not the economy.  Not the President.  Not our employers.

Challenge:  Write down at least 10 very specific goals for the next year as well as 5 years down the line.  Include a definite process for attaining them.

Then go!