A Coffee Cup of Knowledge…. Fidelity to One Great Purpose

The process of life-long learning requires that we move beyond what we personally know and maximize what we can learn from others. I do much of this through reading.  In sharing some highlight passages and sources from my personal library of over 2,000 books, my objective is to offer something of interest, utility and inspiration that may add to your thought process.                                                                                                                                                                                   – Bill Dinnebeil

 Quick Hits:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself— and you are the easiest person to fool. – Feynman, Richard P.; Ralph Leighton (2010-06-28). “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character (p. 343)

I don’t know about you, but I am easily convinced how good my ideas and opinions are, readily embracing that which supports them and conveniently ignoring much that doesn’t.  In discussing scientific integrity, Feynman, a Nobel Prize winner in physics, felt that thoroughly challenging his conclusions and results as to why they may not be correct was an important step in making sure he was not fooling himself or others that would be relying on his work. 

If you can’t prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend that they are the same thing. In the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind, hardly anybody will notice the difference.  – Huff, Darrell (2010-01-19). How to Lie with Statistics (p. 76).

Huff’s book is an informative and humorous discussion on the use and misuse of statistics.  Being in our political campaign season, I thought the quote above was very timely.  Misdirection, confusion and biased data selection seem to be the preferred strategies in some political quarters.  

Fidelity To One Great Purpose:

All this had been accomplished, Adams acknowledged, with a remnant tinge of condescension, not because Lincoln possessed “any superior genius” but because he, “from the beginning to the end, impressed upon the people the conviction of his honesty and fidelity to one great purpose.”  Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2006-12-08). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (p. 595). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

“There is no one better at turning off the noise that is going on around him,” Cook said. “That allows him to focus on a few things and say no to many things. Few people are really good at that.”  Isaacson, Walter (2011-10-24). Steve Jobs (p. 460). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition

Whether it be the abolition of slavery or the commitment to game changing design, Lincoln and Jobs shared the ability to define that one great purpose and the discipline to stay focused, often against enormous odds.  Without a well defined target, wasteful distractions will substitute as false objectives.