“Thoughts, Perceptions and Worldly Wisdom Regarding Values, Priorities, Practices, Our History and Culture” by Gary S. Smolker (Chapters One Through Ten)
(Chapter One): Success begins with your vision of yourself.
- Your vision of where and who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.
- The starting point of your success is your vision of yourself.
- Everyone is born an atheist.
- Shortly after you are born, it is up to you to write your own life.
- You need a crisp vision of who you are and where you are going — and to focus on that .
- You can’t reach your goal until you define it. You will become whoever you want to be. What is it you want to accomplish?
- You can be one of three types of people in the world: People who make things happen. People who watch things happen. And people to whom things always seem to happen.
- Ask yourself: How “good” do you want to be? Quite good? Very good? The best in your filed? The best in the world?
- Your personal success is determined by your constraints — and whether or not you break free from them. Of course, we all face social political and economic constraints as well as the intellectual atmosphere of time and place.
- Talent helps but it will not take you as far as ambition.
- Not many are willing to make the sacrifices it takes to be great.
- Energy is 75% of the job. Showing up is 90% of the job. Persistence and resolve are extremely important. There is no limit to anyone’s possible achievement as long as they have a goal, they have ambition and the resolve, drive and persistence (intestinal fortitude) to press on until they accomplish their goal.
- To get the energy you need to succeed, when you wake up in the morning ask yourself the following question: “If I knew today was the last day of my life, would I do what I am planning to do today?” That is what you have to spend your time on.
- Approach life with the attitude you want to do something.
- Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one in your hand is the opportunity.
- Sadly, many people let other people decide what they should be and what they should do and live very unhappy lives as a result of not being or trying to be who they want to be.
- For examples, many young people are told by their parents to be lawyers or doctors. A joke among lawyers is: Law is great except for the Judges, the other Lawyers and Clients. A oft quoted statistic is: over 90% of physicians hate practicing medicine.
- It is even more tragic when parents put pressure on their unmarried daughters to get married and on their married children by asking: When are you going to give us grand-children?
(Chapter Two): The only constant is change.
- There is a systematic change going on in how people spend their time.
- Telephones took 70 years to reach 50% of Americans. Electricity took 50 years to reach 50% of Americans. TV took 30 years to reach 50% of Americans. Cable took 15 years to reach 50% of Americans. The Internet reached 50% of American homes in 10 years.
- Facebook built a community of 400 million users in 5 years.
- Twitter lept from 1.6 million users in April 2008 to 32.1 million users a year later.
- Content is anything that holds a consumer’s attention. The challenge is to create unique content. Look at how Simon Cowell has changed the world.
- Facebook and other social networks seek to keep users on their sites, to become the hub of their online lives, to become their homes.
- In March 2010, Facebook surpassed Google and became the most visited Web site.
- Facebook is expected to grab a 17.7% share of the U.S. display-ad market this year (2011), while Google captures 9.3% and AOL 4.2%.
- Motorola first commercialized the cell phone.
- Five years ago, Motorola sold nearly one fifth of cell-phones world-wide. Today it has just a 2.4% market share.
- Between 2007 and 2009 Motorola lost $4.3 billion due to the decline of its cell phone business.
- To achieve enlightenment you must have a “spirit of curiosity”, a thirst for knowledge to assist your understanding of the world around you.
- You must seek Truth. Take care that in all that you judge and criticize that you seek truth and not be swayed by opinion and not to follow prejudice.
- Follow the spirit of shukuk (“doubts”) which is so critical in science. This should help you avoid missing a trend, not spotting a trend, a trend passing you buy, a trend taking you into a cul-de-sac.
- You must be alert to change. Many are left behind because the game changed, but they did not.
- In 2008, households with $1,000,000 or more investable assets lost an average of 30% of their investments, and nearly one fifth of millionaires lost more than 40% of their investable assets.
- It is not enough to live in the so called developed world, in knowledge-based societies or in the information age.
- The US stock market is lower today (September 2011) than it was in March 2000 and consumer prices are 30% higher.
- Supposedly, the Euro is about to crash because of foreign debt obligations owned by banks headquartered in the Euro-Zone because various countries cannot make interest payments due and owning to foreign banks they are indebted to or make or repay the principal amount owing on loans made to them.
- Supposedly a political movement is beginning in the United States of America in reaction to what is being called Wall Street bailouts and greed.
- As part of political discourse in the United States, some people are questioning the ratio of pay of CEOs to the average worker in various countries.
- Here are some of the reported ratios of pay of CEO: Average Worker: Japan 11:1; Germany 12:1; France 15:1; Italy 20:1; Canada 20:1; South Africa 21:1; Britain 22:1; Mexico 47:1; Venezuela 50:1; United States: 475:1.
- While some people “think” that real estate is dead, others who “bought their real estate right” and who are managing their real diligently are finding this is a good time for cash flow.
- There are clearly different levels of sophistication in understanding concepts and things, including understanding the way the world around us works, the way the stock market works, the way the commodities market works, the way the real estate market works.
- It remains to be seen whether the so-called developed industrialized world’s financial system will continue to work, whether and to what extent there is virtue in the role of the state in the economy. Such knowledge could be used to build a coherent dynamic system of economic theory.
- In the mean time, the search for cash flow is driving people into purchasing businesses and into making other investments in which they have no experience and very little knowledge. What is the difference in the chance of a successful financial outcome between doing that and guessing where the ball is going to land when it is tossed on a roulette wheel?
(Chapter Three): Ask the right questions and everything else will fall into place.
- Good cannot be brought forward and evil cannot be avoided, except by knowledge.
- A person without knowledge is in a world without light.
- A right question to ask now is: What is not going to change in the next five to ten years?
- Swiftness of change induces insecurity among decision makers.
- Insecurity tends to breed fear or paranoia. Neither emotion produces clarity.
- Put yourself in a position to win.
- Risks are a measure of people.
- People who don’t take risks are trying to preserve what they have.
- People who take risks often end up having more.
- Taking risks is being in the unknown.
- There is no way of knowing what can happen, but there is more chance of it being amazing if you take risks than if you try to “play it safe.”
- A person who doesn’t make any mistakes is unlikely to make anything.
- Failures and false starts are a precondition to success.
- Wisdom comes from failure.
- Benjamin Franklin said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve had 10,000 ideas that didn’t work.”
- Thomas Edison said, “Of the 200 light bulbs that didn’t work, every failure told me something that I was able to incorporate into the next attempt.”
- “Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
- Decide you are going to make a difference. Decide you are going to be great.
- Seek world-class solutions to the puzzles of adversity.
- If you lack tools, build them or buy them.
- People with the right information make better decisions.
- Spend time finding out what the problem is (when you face a problem).
- By finding out what the problem is you will find the solution.
- To know is to be not content with things as presented, but to seek beyond their appearance for their being.
- Positive and concrete solutions to a problem come from knowledge.
- From the awareness of the problem towards its solution, the primary thing is awareness of the problem.
- New ways of doing things destroy old ways of doing things. Rewards and pain are unavoidable.
- Keep in mind: “If everything seems under control you’re not going fast enough.” Mario Andretti
- A rational thinking person should never be so arrogant as to be certain about anything explaining how and why the world is the way it is.
- A scientist’s belief is not based on a blind faith of religion but is instead based on the way a theory’s incredible predictive power has been tested time over time again over the past century.
- Your mind should never be closed to the possibility of new knowledge or an idea coming along in the future to replace a “proven” theory.
- Have a passion to understand the world.
- For the seeker of truth there is nothing of more value than truth itself.
- “We should never be ashamed to recognize truth and to assimilate it, from whatever quarter it may reach us, even though it may come from earlier generations and foreign peoples. For the seeker after truth there is nothing of more value that truth itself; it never cheapens or debases the seeker, but ennobles and elevates him.” Quoted in Richard Walzer, “the Rise of Islamic Philosophy”, Oriens, 3/1 (1950), p. 9 — taking a quote from the preface to On First Philosophy written by Ya’qub ibn Ishaq al-Kindi (c. 800 – c. 873).
- Al-kindi was the first philosopher of Islam. This quote is a clear expression of the spirit of rational inquiry.
- Al-Kindri was a man who would question everything around him, and who applied his impeccable logic to issues surrounding God and creation.
- Al-Kindi is credited with being the scholar responsible for bringing Greek philosophy into the Islamic world.
(Chapter Four): The decisive thing is what you yearn to be.
- The starting point of your success is your vision of yourself.
- You need a crisp vision of who you are and where you are going and to focus on that.
- Psychologically the decisive thing is what you yearn to be: your appetite, your desire, your ambition.
- Living is something no one can do for you. Life is not transferable. It is not an abstract concept, it is your most individual being.
- Every wish for this or that particular thing is ultimately associated with the person you want to be.
- You are the aspiration to be this or that.
- Your existence is the process of realizing, under given conditions, that aspiration.
- You are an unending struggle to be what you have to be.
- It will not be easy to be you. Keep this quote in mind: “To become a champion, fight one more round.” James Corbett
(Chapter Five): Aspiration directs everything.
- Your idea of life is the inspiring and directing force of all your actions.
- Your life is an attempt to carry out a definite program or project of existence. All you do is in service of this program.
- Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
- You can be held back by low self-esteem, lack of confidence, a sense of being a victim, crippling anger, rigidly refusing to bend rules, following scripts which spare you from thinking.
- Being aware of oneself is what the mindless lack.
- Alertness constitutes intelligence.
- Ideas are wide-awake, conscious reaction to things, not a blind automatic habit, drawn from a repertory of formulae.
- Knowledge comes from the past, so “it’s safe,” or is it? It can also be out of date. It’s the opposite of originality.
- Experience is built from solutions to old situations and problems.
- If your current situation or problem is different from old situations and problems old solutions will probably have to be bent to fit your new problem (and possibly fit badly).
- Your passion, focus and vision have to come together.
- Keep an open mind. Be open to new ideas. Don’t be rooted in your own rightness. Don’t be dull and smug. Think and act boldly. Move with the times.
- Failure to think is a war on wisdom.
- If you have no clear vision of a self to be realized, you can have only pseudo wishes and spectral desires devoid of sincerity and vigor.
- Keep the following quote in mind: “Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes you a mechanic.” Lawrence J. Peter
- We do have choice over our actions.
- Consider the Islamic doctrine of taklif — that life is a test for beings possessing free will, and hence the capacity for choice. This is not a new idea or doctrine, of course, as Christian and Jewish theologians had been discussing issues such as free will and the nature of good and evil long before Islam.
(Chapter Six): Well being is the necessity of all necessities.
- Man wants to live well.
- Man feels pleasurable states of mind to be as necessary as the satisfaction of his minimum needs.
- Man’s desire to live is inseparable from his desire to live well.
- Not being, but well-being, is the fundamental necessity of man, the necessity of all necessities.
- In a recent experiment, people lacking adequate food to sustain life where given money with which to purchase enough food to sustain their life. Many of them chose to use the money to purchase a bicycle instead of food. This demonstrates to me the seriousness with which people who can do so choose their own pleasure.
- Life needs every moment.
- Every living creature is most happy when it fulfills its destiny. When it is being that which in truth it is.
(Chapter Seven): Think and act boldly.
- You will miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
- Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.
- The secret to getting ahead is getting started.
- Failure stems from a failure of self-confidence, the self-assurance in the face of uncertainty that what you are doing is right. Self-confidence and self assurance that what you are doing is right is essential to any entrepreneur and to any enterprise.
- Sheep don’t change because they are given opportunities.
- The world exists in our power of formulating ideas
- When confidence ebbs, the courage to act dies with it. Caution rules. Timidity and unrestrained risk-aversion gain the upper hand.
- One finds only what one seeks. To seek is to assume the thing sought and indeed to have it by prevision. To seek is to assume and anticipate a reality which is still nonexistent.
- If something doesn’t work, try something else.
- People who don’t let fear get the best of them, don’t freeze up, tend to live to fight another day.
- Eradicate paralyzing fear from your psyche.
- There are no instant solutions. The only way to learn is through experience and mistakes.
- The most intimate and at the same time the most substantially solemn act of your life is the one by which you dedicate yourself to something.
- People who succeed are aided by an internal desire to never concede defeat. You can profoundly learn from your mistakes.
- Nasty failure has the ability to teach.
- Failure is an event, not a person.
- If you think you have failed, you simply haven’t thought hard enough.
- Be creative – think your way around problems.
- In football, aside from throwing an interception, the worse thing a quarterback can do is stand like a statute and wait, and wait, for a receiver to get in the open.
- There is nothing wrong with being humble. Keep this quote in mind: “The superior man is distressed by his want (lack) of ability.” Confucius
(Chapter Eight): Deep seated curiosity and eagerness for life make all the difference.
- Living is to live even more, a desire to increase one’s own palpitations.
- Choice is ruled by profound ideals, fermented in the innermost depths of the person.
- Only people with a high level of vitality can possess deep seated curiosity.
- This curiosity is simultaneously an eagerness for life.
- Devotion to scholarship once started takes on a life of its own. It quickly becomes self-sustaining, leading to a grand synthesis of knowledge that grows to depths of intellectual understanding that outstrip the sum of what was known before.
- Academies are more than just a library containing much of the world’s accumulated knowledge serving as a repository for books. They act as a magnet, attracting many of the worlds greatest thinkers and scholars.
- Scholars throughout history have had at their disposal a far broader world-view than anyone before them.
- Cross-fertilization of ideas and knowledge have always taken place by an exchange of ideas and knowledge.
- The best minds come together and are able to rise to prominence because of prevailing cultural conditions.
- You don’t have to be an academic or scholar to change the world.
- Look at current events to see what spouts from the seeds of the infectious enthusiasm, passion and drive of people who change the world.
- Look at the current world changing accomplishments of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Paige, Sergey Brin and Mark Zuckenberg – who, by the way, don’t have an MBA and are college drop outs.
- Think about the world changing accomplishments of Simon Cowell, who is a man interested in the world, a man who couldn’t wait to stop going to school, and a man of action whose business method could be summarized as “I will make it happen.”
- At any point in history, if the opportunities are available and the sociopolitical conditions favorable, there will be those who take on the challenge.
- The weak individual, on the other hand, is incapable of disinterested, initial attention to what occurs outside of himself.
- Such people are hermetic to the extent they don’t immediately relate to others and the world around them with total interest.
- There are clearly different levels of sophistication in understanding concepts, ideas and facts.
- What one learns from learning, in the literal as well as the figurative sense, are new ways of opening one’s eyes.
- One should not take it for granted that at the end of the journey one will have found their own light.
- Knowledge gained through learning, study and experience [whether in school or out of school] is the seed from which sprout all subsequent achievements which produce something exceptional.
- A random question: Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not they both fall into a pit?
- To look is not to perceive.
(Chapter Nine): Life is an adventure.
- Fundamentally, life is always unforeseen. Life is thrown at us, and we are thrown into it.
- Life is a constant process of deciding what we are going to do.
- Life is a constant process of deciding between various possibilities.
- At any moment we find ourselves forced to choose among various possibilities.
- Not to be preoccupied with life, is to let your life float rudderless, like a buoy without anchor chains, coming and going as it is pushed by social currents.
- For people who are not preoccupied with life, to live is to surrender to the unanimous, to let customs, prejudices, habits, topics instilled within them give them life. They desire to be like everybody else. This is the eternal ideal of the weak, whose preoccupation is to do what everyone else is doing.
- Man reaches his full capacity when he acquires complete consciousness of his circumstances.
- “All creative people need something to rebel against, it’s what gives their life excitement.” Paul Arden
- “He who finds a new path is a pathfinder, even if the trail has to be found again by others; and he who walks ahead of his contemporaries is a leader, even though centuries may pass before he is recognized as such.” Ibn Khaldun
- A word of warning: In common with all scholars throughout history, each of us badly needs time and isolation to focus on learning and the transmission of learning, the seclusion to think, to compose our thoughts and to put together and communicate what we need to communicate.
(Chapter Ten): Concerns About Science and Scientific Inquiry in the Muslim World Today and Tomorrow – Must A Clear Separation of Science from Theology Be Insured?
- Some people believe the importance of scientific inquiry is at the very heart of what defines a civilized and enlightened society; that the survival of a society depends upon its science and technology.
- The culture that makes scientific achievement possible is a culture that thirsts for and respects knowledge and learning.
- There are more than a billion Muslims in the world today, around a quarter of the world’s population.
- Muslim countries today have fewer than 10 scientists, engineers and technicians per 1,000 in the population compared to the world average of 40, and 140 for the developed world.
- Beween them they publish about 1 % of the world’s published scientific papers.
- Scientists in the Arab world produced a total of 13,444 scientific publications in 2005 — 2,000 fewer than achieved by Harvard University alone.
- At Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan (one of the leading research universities in the Muslim world), there are several mosques on campus, but no bookshop.
- We should also be wary of the rest of the world, where science is coming under attack from many religions and belief systems.
- The current “fights” between evolutionary biologists and advocates of intelligent design shows the tension between science and religion is not limited to the Muslim world.
- Many people are afraid of science and blame it for many of the world’s problems.
- Many Muslims reject the notion that science and religion are incompatible.
- Some religious madrassa, even in Iran, believe that the Qur’an is not a textbook on mathematics or physics, or medicine or astronomy. It is a book that tells a billion Muslims how to live their lives and to seek God’s wonders of creation by observing the world around them, by acquiring knowledge through scientific inquiry.
- Many Muslim governments from Malaysia to Nigeria are currently investing astonishing sums of money in new projects in an attempt to create world-class research institutions.
- A new science park opened in the spring of 2009 in a sprawling metropolis called Education City on the outskirts of Doha, the capital of Qatar, which is home to a number of branch campuses of some of the world’s leading universities.
- Just as ambitious is the brand-new $10 billion research university called King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, completed in 2009 on the west coast of Saudi Arabia near the city of Jeddah. The vast campus of this international research university, complete with state-of-the-art laboratories and a $1.5 billion budget for research facilities over its first five years, was built from scratch in just three years. In a pioneering move, it is the first fully co-educational institution in Saudi Arabia, allowing women to sit alongside men in lecture halls rather than in separate rooms. May of the top universities in Europe and the United States are clamoring to be associated with it.
- Of course scientific researchers need more than just the latest, shiniest equipment and rhetoric.
- Just spending vast sums of money will not be enough to build a scientific culture in the Muslim world.
- What is needed is the political will to ensure real freedom of thinking. What is needed is people having the courage to question accepted doctrine and to exercise real intellectual freedom and a “healthy skepticism.” It is not simply a matter of throwing money at a problem.
- A spirit of curiosity drives mankind to try to understand nature, to know how and why things are the way they are.
- Does, or should, religion hold a monopoly on ethics and morality? Must a clear separation of science from theology be ensured?
- In an era when bloodletting was considered a cure for everything from colds to smallpox, surgeon John Hunter was a medical innovator, an eccentric, a maverick and the person to whom anyone who has ever had surgery probably owes his or her life. He went through extraordinary lengths in his devotion to uncovering the secrets of the human body — including body snatching, performing pioneering medical experiments and infecting himself with venereal disease.
- Surgeon John Hunter was a complex brilliant man of magnificent curiosity and fearless inquiry who recognized that the understanding of disease had to be rooted in a knowledge of the structure and functions of the human body — an approach that lives on in the best of medicine today more than two centuries later. His story is almost too fantastical to believe. It is complete with grave snatchers, clandestine experiments, exotic animals, even protohuman transplants. John Hunter is not a well-known name outside of specialist circles. He was a famous surgeon and anatomist of eighteenth-century London. If you ever wondered why surgeons are so full of themselves, the story of the founder of their profession John Hunter might provide some clues.
- Currently, research in genetics, infertility treatment, stem cell research and animal cloning is being carried out in an atmosphere of openness at the Royan Institute in Tehran. Every research project proposed must be justified to a committee to ensure that it does not conflict with Islamic teaching. According to Islamic teaching, the fetus becomes a full human being only when it is ‘ensouled’ between forty and a hundred and twenty days from the moment of conception, and so the research at Royan on human embryonic stem cells is not seen as playing God, as it takes place at a much earlier stage.
- For us in the secular West, it seems obvious that cultural renaissance leading to a knowledge based society cannot take place when the process by which whether science can or cannot be pursued is decided by religion. It is the spirit of curiosity that drives mankind to try to understand nature, whether it is to marvel at divine creation or just to know how and why things are the way they are. It takes an understanding and appreciation of both intellectual (academic) freedom and the scientific method for this to happen.
(Chapter 11) We must understand that different people operate on different belief systems.
Consider the 2002 Miss World Beauty Contest.
In 2002, Nigeria was selected to host the Miss World Beauty Contest.
Nigeria is a country about 2/3 Muslim; 1/3 Christian.
At first there was a spirited but civil debate as to the propriety of such an event in this conservative culture.
This changed when a journalist wrote an article in a local newspaper arguing that a beauty contest was moral and acceptable because, had such a concept existed in the time of Muhammed, the Prophet Himself would have availed himself of such a technique to find a bride for himself.
Muslims who read this article became incensed, enraged and wanted blood. Not of the journalist, but of their Christian neighbors.
Mobs of people roamed the streets looking for any unfortunate Christian to fall upon and hack to pieces with their knives and machetes. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/2501893.stm
This behavior appears unfathomable to us “civilized” Westerners. We therefore dismiss it without further thought as the incomprehensible savagery and brutality of madmen.
In Islamic civilization, defaming Mohammed is punishable by death.
You should ask yourself why over a billion people choose to follow a religion where certain offenses are punishable by death, where there are many other religions open and available to them.
It does not dawn on us that such actions were in fact logical, rational and justifiable as an act of Self-Defense from an Islamic point of view and therefore reflect normative behavior and not acts of the lunatic fringe.
Without knowledge and understanding how Jihadist Islam legitimizes these massacres and the birth rate of Muslims living in democratic countries one cannot hope to understand, evaluate or deal with the “threat “posed by Jihadist Islam.
Keep this in mind: Activity in the bedroom leading to an average family size of five or more children combined with a democratic voting system insures that in a few generations Muslims can vote themselves into power in many democratic countries.
Also keep in mind, throughout history and current times people have thought death and killing were/are proper.
For example, in Indian (Hindu) civilization people will kill you if you kill a sacred cow.
In Ancient Egypt, people were killed for killing cats.
In the Christian and Jewish “bible”, G-d asked Abraham to kill his only son, and Abraham agreed to kill his son.
The point of the story of the Miss World Contest in Nigeria is that Islam believes itself to be the true religion.
The fact that the author of the offensive newspaper article was a Muslim – far from relieving Christians of their guilt for HIS transgressions, to the Muslim audience demonstrates the collective guilt of the Christians.
In the Muslim mind, Christian values had corrupted and distorted the Muslim journalist/author such that he drafted this blasphemous association of Muhammed and Beauty Pageants. Seen through their own eyes, these Muslims were merely acting i self-defense: killing those whose distorted values would corrupt the virtue of good Muslims.
Currently Nigeria has an extremely active and successful Christian angelitical movement. Many Muslims in Nigeria are being converted to Christians.
Viloence of one reglious group on another is not new.
History is full of civilizations believing there is legitimate violence and illegitimate violence. For examples: Protestants killing Catholics and Catholics killing Protestants.
One might say that understanding that Islam sees the need for there to be a battle between mutually exclusive civilizations and values as being the first essential step in grasping the enormity of the major conflict facing the Western World in the 21st Century.
I don’t see it that way.
I see the biggest issue facing Muslims and the Middle East is starvation.
I’m told there are 80 million starving people in Egypt.
If that is true, the major issue facing whomever takes over Egypt (or Syria or Libya for that matter) is feeding a starving population.
Additionally, religion belief is a looming issue in China. One analyst has voiced the opinion that within 15 years the majority of people living in China will be Christians due to the fact that Chinese peasants are living in conditions similar to early Christians which makes the Christianity being preached by Evangelistic Christian missionaries appealing to them.
China, Africa, India, Asia and South America are all experiencing exponential growth in evagelical portions of their populations. Nigeria is now recognized as the most evangelical Christian country in the world. Korea used to have this position.