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With holy reverence, Stephen R. Covey solemnly recounted the specific life-changing experience that led to his writing The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, one of the best-selling nonfiction business books in history. You could practically hear a chorus of angels humming behind him:

“Wandering through the stacks of the library at a university in Hawaii, I pulled out a book that had three sentences in it that completely staggered me. It was so compelling, so absorbing that I could hardly think of anything else.

  • Between stimulus and response is a space.  
  • In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. 
  • In those choices lie our growth and our happiness.” – Viktor Frankl

The words may appear on a page or screen. They may have been written split-seconds ago or chiseled in stone thousands of years ago. The author may be famous or anonymous.

Yet when certain words are read by certain individuals, they leave an indelible impression.

The following are some passages that clicked with me. They’re retained somewhere indescribable, far beyond the cursory reading and scanning that’s all-too-typical of our mundane society at this time. 

Invictus
William Ernest Henley

“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.”

The Lost Son
A Story Told By The Buddha

“A young widower, who loved his five year old son very much, was away on business when bandits came and burned down the whole village and took his son away. When the man returned, he saw the ruins and panicked. He took the burnt corpse of an infant to be his son and cried uncontrollably. He organised a cremation ceremony, collected the ashes and put them in a beautiful little bag which he always kept with him.

Soon afterwards, his real son escaped from the bandits and found his way home. He arrived at his father’s new cottage at midnight and knocked at the door. The father, still grieving, asked: “Who is it?” The child answered, “It is me, papa, open the door!” But in his agitated state of mind, convinced his son was dead, the father thought that some young boy was making fun of him. He shouted: “Go away” and continued to cry. After some time, the child left.

Father and son never saw each other again.”

After this story, the Buddha said: “Sometime, somewhere, you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, even when the truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will not open it.”

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
Portia Nelson

“Chapter I

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am hopeless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in… it’s a habit… but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.”

If
Rudyard Kipling

“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”

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Alan Geller
Alan Geller
My name is Alan Geller. A journalist, actor, music promoter, executive recruiter, and automotive brand specialist, in summary, I find it best not to summarize :-)

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