MRZ

Quotes

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Frankly, the alpinist Mark Twight is one of the most inspiring writers I've ever read. I know he's a fan of Rand, and I think his writing about the process of being the best you can be is superb. There's that quote from Atlas Shrugged where Hugh Akston says "[...] don't make the mistake of thinking that these three pupils of mine are some sort of superhuman creatures. They're something much greater and more astounding than that: they're normal men—a thing the world has never seen." Too often I see people lament their genetic ability rather than making it for it with hard work. I work hard. Twight makes me want to work harder (and smarter).

I know they're lengthy, but they are too good to be cut down to a sentence or two:

"Talk - Action = Zero."

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"Those who aren't the real thing always find an excuse for their failings when confronted by the real thing. [...] This is a natural consequence of having been told from childhood, "you are a unique snowflake." Well you're not and I'm not. If you weren't given the gift, you can't get the gift so the best you can do - if your goal is important - is work as hard as you possibly can, pay attention every hour of every day and then maybe, maybe if you've done enough and been smart enough you'll emerge from the muck of mediocrity to shine a bit brighter than you shone before. Then, upon reflection you might decide your goal is a bit more important so you'll start paying attention every minute of every hour of every day. You'll find people who are better than you and you'll take an empty cup when you meet them. Their example will destroy or inspire you and if it's the latter you may stay and learn. You might imitate, doing as they do because you've already accepted that you do not know best - if you did you'd be leading the group they were trying to join. Perhaps being exposed to their superior ability will drive you to work harder than you thought possible, or necessary. Maybe you'll overcome your self-imposed (or worse, society-imposed) limitations and shine even more brightly. Wow, you're getting it: positive reinforcement for hard work and suffering. So maybe you give your goal even more significance and you begin cutting away the ideas and the expectations and the people who you believe prevent you from achieving it. Now you become a real selfish prick, and you begin paying attention every second of every minute of every hour of every day, and you sustain your awareness for weeks and months at a time. You no longer think yourself a unique snowflake, you're a steel-edged blade shaped like a snowflake and you're spinning at warp speed. You're the biggest fish in the pond. You're a badass. Now you have options.

1) If you think you haven't yet done enough, and you could do more, you might begin to understand that, the more capable you become, the higher the mountain rises ahead of you. At that moment you may recognize the existence of a legitimately serious group, ahead of you, above you, somewhere you're not. They are silent, implacable, constantly improving and evolving and because they are truly capable they are accessible to those who are genuine. Among them there's no defensiveness, no posturing or pretending, and they aren't interested in anyone else's. Selection for such a group isn't based on physical performance alone. Issues of character and commitment, and discipline and persistence balance physical talent. Because you clawed your way out of the muck, were "up all night, dedicated" and maintained interest for long enough to differentiate yourself from the short-attention-span sporting dilettantes who commonly brush up against this group they might accept you as an apprentice. If you empty your cup your chances are better. If you redouble your efforts your odds improve again."

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"Modern man is conditioned to expect instant gratification but any success or triumph realized quickly, with only marginal effort is necessarily shallow. Meaningful achievement takes time, hard work, persistence, patience, proper intent and constant self-awareness. The path to such success is punctuated by failure, consolidation and renewed effort. It is wet with the tears of emotional breakdown. Personal reconstruction is art. Discovering one's self, one's talent and ambition and learning how to express it is a creative process so may not be rushed. What's the hurry? Pressure to succeed according to a particular timeline comes from outside. If the goal is selfish self-improvement there is no schedule, no deadline. One's rate of progress is influenced by the intensity used to address the task. Hard, intelligent work speeds us along the path. Neurotic obsession and compulsion may steepen the trajectory but usually lead to illness and injury. In the end, the process takes as long as it takes -- you can't push the river. We are in it for the long haul."

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“Learn how to accepted losses without being defeated.”

One of the pieces of wisdom Phil Niekro tried to instill in Tim Wakefield when he was helping him become a knuckleballer. Mentioned in the documentary, Knuckleball. BTW: 1 down, ten to go . . . )

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