Many remarkable people are no longer among us, but their spirit lives in us every day, although we don't always realize it. Advances in how we live, think and act couldn't happen without the effort of those before us, without their sweat and hard work midst adversity, without the specific challenges they faced and the obstacles they needed to overcome. We can allow ourselves to not make the same mistakes now, only because someone else has paved the way. In the process that person changed our thinking forever to the extent that we can no longer clearly distinguish what originates from ourselves. Bombarded with so many influences every day, we have become individuals of the humanity, determined by the combined wisdom of the crowd. If everyone knows the same things, they are effectively multiplied, making us gradually more alike and faceless. Our personality can only reveal itself if we try to deviate from the norm every single day, when we preserve our own views and don't necessarily think within the group. It follows its own rules and is ready to make everyone faceless for its own progress. An authentic voice isn't muted by the noise, it creates the signal that rises above it. This is what remarkable people do.
Napoleon Hill had the idea that we are our thoughts and they shape us every single moment. He said that what we think of most of the time, this we attract in our life. Thus, our results directly depend on where our thoughts are and how steady we're able to keep them. If we allow ourselves to go through life without thinking, we admit our inability to shape our own destiny. With no ambitions, we become faceless and thus convenient to manipulate. This is a profound idea, whose importance is still not completely understood today. We need to find thinking time every day, preferably in a calm environment, if we don't want to sink in the robotic chaos of the minutia. The deeper our thoughts go, the better. But they need to be supported by our actions or we'll quickly lose them.
Mahatma Gandhi had the big idea of nonviolence. No matter how hard they hit you, never hit back. This is a very hard concept to accept, especially when our emotions are already affected and we demand immediate justice. But if more people lived with no negative inclinations towards others, seeing only the best in them, we would probably all live in a better place. Such attitude requires a strong character and mindfulness, but it can be disarming for the torturer. Nonviolence is a sign that we are aware of the imperfections of the person against us, but never stop to respect it because of them. It's a principle that can be taught and spread more widely, making people more humble in the words they choose and the actions towards others. Gandhi also had the idea that we should never require something from others that we ourselves aren't ready to do. This means that if we want to delegate work, we should first be ready to do it ourselves; if we protest against a regime, we should be personally ready to govern; if we want to give advice, we should be already following it ourselves. It always pays to check the integrity of people this way.
Nelson Mandela is still alive, but his persistence and stubbornness are already immortal. 27 years in different prisons, because of fighting the apartheid in South Africa, weren't enough to change his beliefs. He didn't lost his faith even in the hardest moments; instead he sought small ways to raise his spirit. He tried to keep himself active and to never surrender. When released from the prison, he continued to follow his ideals. There is a lesson for everyone here. We should never give up, no matter what our current situation is. Such long-term single-mindedness requires again a strong character and unconditional faith. He also showed us how important tolerance is—independent of origin, religion, age and how it is reflected in our outlook, gestures, feelings. The ability to forgive is what allows us to move forward.
Jim Rohn has influenced a lot of managers. One of his main ideas was that we are paid proportional to our value to the market. The reason why most people are underpaid is that they are unwilling or incapable to bring more value to the market. Sounds strange, but it's true. Since the lath of value is constantly getting higher, less and less people can meet the new requirements and their value for the market decreases if they aren't constantly seeking ways to compensate for it. Without development effort and lifelong learning this will be hard to attain. He said that we reap what we sow, but the wind will constantly blow our soil and the birds will peck out our seeds. So we need great care to ensure that they can grow despite all external influences. And we must be willing to invest enough time in the process.
Steve Jobs has changed our lives through technology. He was a firm believer that we should pursue our own passions, not someone else's. That we should hear what our inner voice is telling us. We have only one life and every minute of it is too good to work on something we don't like or with someone we don't like. We need to do the things with a sense of urgency, because tomorrow might never come. He showed us that originality is key and that it's better to define people's needs rather than wait for them to express what they don't know. He cared greatly for the smallest details and showed us that this is what great design is about. He wanted to improve people's lives in a way that will allow him to leave a dent on the universe. He killed a lot of products, because they weren't living to his high standards. His gut feeling was sometimes more important than what common sense was telling him and this allowed him to build extraordinary products, but only with the help of his highly talented team.
Stephen Covey was an influential author and speaker. He had the idea that we need to be proactive and not reactive and that we change for the better by taking personal responsibility for our choices. But acting this way would be impossible if we didn't start with the end in mind by knowing exactly what we are trying to accomplish. And then prioritizing our actions with the intent to put first things first and avoid those wasting our time. Another strong idea was that we need to seek to understand first and then to be understood. It is of universal importance, especially when too many of us often act out of self-interest, seeking quick gains possibly at the expense of others. With our desire to be louder we suppress our ability to listen carefully, be empathetic and understand how we could touch lives in a positive and meaningful way. Win-win situations can create a balance and make every side feel respected, not neglected. But they could work only if the the wins are comparable and perceived as fair.
Many other remarkable people deserve a place here too. But it's impossible to describe everyone's uniqueness in such a short blog post. It should be rather read as a small act of appreciation. We are the combined sum of influences in our lives so it's always good to be aware of where they come from and how they shape our daily lives. This allow us to better understand other people and not just to be interested in our similarities. Everyone around us has a remarkable element, we just need to look and discover it.