The Monk and the Riddle: The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Life

This is like marriage between Steve Jobs commencement speech and Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start speech.  My two most favorite speeches into one inspirational story of entrepreneurship.

Obviously great book for future entrepreneur, but the lesson is universal. Whatever you are starting, these lessons applies.

In a moment of clarity, I realized my whole future was in that hall, perfectly defined. From my office, I had a unobstructed view of my colleagues in their offices—the junior associates nearest, then the senior associates, the junior partners, the partners, and finally the managing partner at the far end of the hall. A neat and tidy future loomed before me. Sure, the stroll down the hallway could be reassuring and empowering in a way, but it seemed so pat, so determined. In that instant it was if I had already lived all that. Where was the blank piece of papers?

deferred life is just a bad bet.

Don’t confuse drive and passion. Drive pushes you forward. It’s a duty, and obligation. Passion pulls you. It’s the sense of connection you feel when the work you do expresses who you are. Only passion will get you through the tough times.

As I tell the M.B.A. classes I sometimes address, it’s the romance, not the finance that makes business worth pursuing.

Lenny didn’t understand how the Valley thinks about business risk and failure. Instead of managing business risk to minimize or avoid failure, the focus here is on maximizing success. The Valley recognizes that failure is an unavoidable part of the search for success.

But when I drill down, I inevitably find personal risks that need to be considered along with the business risks. Personal risks include the risk of working with people you don’t respect; the risk of working for a company whose values are inconsistent with your own; the risk of compromising what’s important; the risk of doing something you don’t care about; and the risk of doing something that fails to express—or even contradicts—who you are. And then there is the most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.

Most of us have inherited notions of “success” from someone else or have arrived at these notions by facing a seemingly endless line of hurdles extending from grade school through college and into our careers. We constantly judge ourselves against criteria that others have set and rank ourselves against others in their game. Personal goals, on the other hand, leave us on your own, without this habit of useless measurement and comparison.

Work hard, work passionately, but apply your most precious asset—time—to what is most meaningful to you. What are you willing to do for the rest of your life? does not mean, literally, what will you do for the rest of y your life? That question would be absurd, given the inevitability of change. No, what the question really asks is, if your life were to end suddenly and unexpectedly tomorrow, would you be able to say you’ve been doing what you truly care about today? What would you be willing to do for the rest of your life? What would it take to do it right now?