Archive for September, 2011

Never, ever give up!

Posted by on Sep-24-2011

As I have mentioned in my previous blog, I am a person who is so very much inspired by Sir Winston Churchill. Colossal men like him write and re write history. All that we, ordinary mortals can do is to derive inspiration from their lives for our own personal betterment. Here is a very powerful instance where he inspired, perhaps a whole generation.

Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises.

He arrived with his usual props – a cigar, a cane and a top hat. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!”

Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “NEVER GIVE UP!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform.

His commencement address was over!

Get Up

Posted by on Sep-17-2011

Bringing a giraffe into the world is a tall order. A baby giraffe falls 10 feet from its mother’s womb and usually lands on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and tucks its legs under its body. From this position it considers the world for the first time and shakes off the last vestiges of the birthing fluid from its eyes and ears. Then the mother giraffe rudely introduces its offspring to the reality of life.

In his book, “A View from the Zoo”, Gary Richmond describes how a newborn giraffe learns its first lesson.

The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over her calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she does the most unreasonable thing. She swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it is sent sprawling head over heels.

When it doesn’t get up, the violent process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.

Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up. In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs all enjoy young giraffes, and they’d get it too, if the mother didn’t teach her calf to get up quickly and get with it.

The late Irving Stone understood this. He spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin.

Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of all these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished and they go to work.

“They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified, and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.”

The Touchstone

Posted by on Sep-10-2011

When the great library of Alexandria burned, the story goes, one book was saved. But it was not a valuable book; and so a poor man, who could read a little, bought it for a few coppers.The book wasn’t very interesting, but between its pages there was something very interesting indeed. It was a thin strip of vellum on which was written the secret of the “Touchstone”!

The touchstone was a small pebble that could turn any common metal into pure gold. The writing explained that it was lying among thousands and thousands of other pebbles that looked exactly like it. But the secret was this: The real stone would feel warm, while ordinary pebbles are cold.

So the man sold his few belongings, bought some simple supplies, camped on the seashore, and began testing pebbles.

He knew that if he picked up ordinary pebbles and threw them down again because they were cold, he might pick up the same pebble hundreds of times. So, when he felt one that was cold, he threw it into the sea. He spent a whole day doing this but none of them was the touchstone. Yet he went on and on this way. Pick up a pebble. Cold – throw it into the sea. Pick up another. Throw it into the sea.

The days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months. One day, however, about mid afternoon, he picked up a pebble and it was warm. He threw it into the sea before he realized what he had done. He had formed such a strong habit of throwing each pebble into the sea that when the one he wanted came along, he still threw it away.

So it is with opportunity. Unless we are vigilant, it’s easy to fail to recognize an opportunity when it is in hand and it’s just as easy to throw it away.

The Adventures with a Paint Brush

Posted by on Sep-3-2011

I have always admired Sir Winston Churchill’s writings and I am quite contended to say I have read a considerable quantity of his works. Certain lines of his leave an indelible mark in the heart, that it becomes a part of all that, which are credited with the building up of one’s character. I was going through the book : “Amid these Storms” and decided to share with you all my gracious readers, the way in which Winston Churchill took to painting and what he felt about it.

“To have reached the age of forty without ever handling a brush, to have regarded the painting of pictures as a mystery, and then suddenly to find oneself plunged into the middle of a new interest with paints and palettes and canvases- and not to be discouraged by results- is an astonishing and enriching experience. I hope it may be shared by others.

For to be really happy and to avoid worry and mental over-strain we ought all to have hobbies, and they must all be real. Best of all, and the easiest to take up, are sketching and painting. They came to my rescue late in life, at a most trying time.

When I left admiralty at the end of 1915, I still remained a member of the cabinet and of the War Council. In this position I knew everything and could do nothing. I had vehement convictions and no power to give effect to them; I had enforced leisure at a moment when every fiber of my being was inflamed to action. And then it was, one Sunday in the country that the children’s paint box came to my aid. My first experiments with their toy watercolours led me to secure, next morning, a complete outfit for painting in oils. The next step was to begin. The Palette gleamed with beads of colour; fair and white rose the canvas; the empty brush hung poised, heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. Very gingerly I mixed a little blue paint with a very small brush, and then with infinite precaution made a mark about as big as a small bean upon the affronted snow white shield. At that moment a motorcar was heard on the drive and from it there stepped none other than the gifted wife of Sir John Lavery, the distinguished portrait painter. “Painting! But what are you hesitating about? Let me have a brush a big one.” Splash into the turpentine, a wallop into the blue and white, frantic flourish on my palette, and then several large, fierce strokes of blue on the absolutely cowering canvas. The Spell was broken. My Sticky ambition rolled away. I seized the largest brush and fell upon my victim with berserk fury. I have never felt any awe of a canvas since.

This beginning with audacity is a very great part of the art of painting. We must not be too ambitious. We cannot aspire to masterpieces. We may content ourselves with a simple joyride in a paint box. And for this, audacity is the only ticket.

Try it, if you have not done so –BEFORE YOU DIE.”