Bits and Pieces

Bits & Pieces: A Sampler

Welcome to the Bits & Pieces Sampler. These are a few highlights from our recent issues that are sure to have a positive impact on your day. If you like what you read, subscribe now to keep more of this wisdom coming your way throughout the year.


We often refer to our “journey” when we are striving for success in our personal and professional lives. An occasional obstacle on our path will force a detour, but that doesn’t have to be a setback or delay to achieving our goals if we keep moving forward.

Zack Friedman, CEO of personal finance firm Make Lemonade, believes many of us overthink the steps we need to take on our journeys to reach our final destination. To make his point, he cites the example of a friend who told Friedman she was planning to learn about strategy by becoming a consultant.

From there she would change paths and become a brand manager to learn about global brands. Her success in that field would pave the way for yet another career change, this time at a startup where she could help develop innovative products. This would help her achieve her ultimate goal of going into business for herself with an idea she had already conceptualized.

Friedman had other friends with similar ideas, which leads him to ask the following question of any of us who think the same way: “What are you waiting for? If you know what you want, go get the job you want now. It won’t take three different careers to get there.”

Friedman suggests we embrace the sort of straightforward simplicity we possessed as young children when we would shout out with confidence our plans to become astronauts, marine biologists, or superheroes. Freidman says the one thing we should keep in mind as we plan our journeys is, “Your destination may be a lot closer than you realize.”

There’s no need to take a winding road when a short, straight path will lead us to our goals. Friedman says, “Be sure to recognize the difference … between taking longer on your journey as you discover yourself versus discovering yourself up front and not choosing a journey that reflects who you really are.”

Adapted from The Lemonade Life: How to fuel success, create happiness, and conquer anything

Zack Friedman


By Vijay Eswaran

For many people, the last few weeks of the year are a time of reflection and introspection: a time to look back at how their year has gone and plan for the coming year.

It’s a time when we resolve to lose weight, organize our closets, clean out the attic, stick to a budget, etc. Sound familiar?

How far did you venture into the new year before any or all of your resolutions were abandoned?

Here’s a better question: If something is important enough to you, why wait for a specific date to begin working on it?

There’s no guarantee that something won’t change or distract you from it before that date. All you have is now. We should get up every morning and count ourselves fortunate for having one more shot at making a difference, leaving a legacy, and changing the planet.

This year, I urge you to think about your now. If you knew that you had only one more day to live, what are the things you would do?

Let a sense of urgency fuel your actions and lead you to deeper connections, a higher purpose, and finding your passion and joy.

In the book, Born to Run, author Christopher McDougall offers a brilliant example of the sort of urgency we should embrace:

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up; it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle— when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”

Vijay Eswaran is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, philanthropist, and author. He writes and speaks about business, leadership, personal development, and life management. His latest book is Two Minutes from the Abyss: 11 Pillars of Life Management. Visit his website to learn more.

Once in a while, it really hits people that they don’t have to experience the world in the way they have been told to.

Alan Keightley

Your most valuable resource is your energy. No one can take it from you unless you give it to them.

Suzanne Adams

Change requires intent and effort. It really is that simple.

Roxane Gay

You can handle anything if you think you can. Just keep your cool and your sense of humor.

Smiley Blanton

There are moments … brief, shining moments when the impossible becomes possible.

Kelly Keaton

We heal and grow to the exact degree we step into that which is uncomfortable in our lives.

Dale Halaway

Wisdom doesn’t necessarily come with age. Sometimes age just shows up all by itself.

Tom Wilson


What is one thing you possess in an unlimited supply that will make you and everyone around you feel better? Your smile. In “Why You Should … ” we share four insights from author and minister Steve Goodier on the benefits of smiling.

Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.

Maya Angelou

Your curiosity is your growth point always.

Danielle LaPorte

Enlightenment is man’s leaving his self-caused immaturity.

Immanuel Kant

Your intentions create your experiences.

Doreen Virtue

We think sometimes we’re only drawn to the good, but we’re actually drawn to the authentic.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

So many people spend so much of their life energy “sweating the small stuff” that they completely lose touch with the magic and beauty of life.

Richard Carlson

Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful, and magical humans on earth. For what they believe is what they will become.

Brooke Hampton

A loving heart is the truest wisdom.

Charles Dickens

Day after day, ordinary people become heroes through extraordinary and selfless actions to help their neighbors.

Sylvia Matthews Burwell

The key to the future of the world is finding the hopeful stories and letting them be known.

Pete Seeger

Always leave enough time in your life to do something that makes you happy.

Paul Hawken


By Quint Studer

When things aren’t going well in our community, our first impulse is to get upset. Our second impulse is to look for someone to blame, even though getting angry at “them” solves nothing. If you see a need for change in your community, don’t get enraged, get engaged. Here are four things you can do to get started:

1. Know your neighbors and their issues. Talk to people everywhere: at school functions, at church, standing in line at the grocery store. Ask questions and solicit their opinions on community issues. Don’t be afraid to talk to people from different cultures and socioeconomic levels.

2. Keep an open mind. Listen to the other side before you make up your mind on a hot-button issue, even if you initially disagree with them. You might be surprised to find that your ideas change as you learn more. Even if you’ve publicly taken a position in the past and you change your mind, it’s OK to say that. People will respect you for being transparent and forthcoming.

3. Join your neighborhood association. If you’re willing to step up and work hard, get involved with those working for the betterment of your community. These groups drive meaningful and lasting change.

4. Build relationships with other deeply engaged and committed people. Don’t focus only on formal leaders who have the “right” title. Informal leaders—often business leaders, educators, physicians, and others who are highly visible and respected in the community—are a powerful group. Get them on board first. By leveraging and mobilizing these leaders up front, you’ll be far more likely to get the momentum you need to create change.

When citizens get engaged and take ownership of the issues, big progress happens and it happens fast.

Remember: There really is no they; there is only we.

Quint Studer is an entrepreneur and founder of Pensacola’s Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving quality of life issues in communities. He is the author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America. For more information visit and


By Vella Mbenna

Growing up in rural Georgia, I dreamed of travel and excitement, but after college I found myself broke, divorced, and struggling to raise my child alone. That changed when I joined the Foreign Service and embarked on a 26-year journey in which I lived in dangerous parts of the world, performed high-states diplomatic work, and defended my country in the wake of deadly terrorist attacks. My career provided the adventure I had always craved.

For those of you feeling adventure-starved, there are plenty of small ways to infuse totally ordinary days with life-shifting excitement—and it doesn’t require a globetrotting career or a big budget. Follow these tips to create the adventurous life you’re dreaming of:

• Commit to a TV or social media ban. Before you can start your adventures, you need to stop doing the stuff that sucks up all your free time and keeps you in a state of lethargy. When turning on the TV or browsing Facebook is no longer an option, you’ll have to fill up your time with something. If nothing else, boredom will push you out the door.

• Force yourself to do something that scares (yet excites) you. You’ll never reach your full potential by living small. So take a risk and challenge yourself to step outside your comfort zone and do some things that intimidate you. Start training for a marathon or sign up to be a foster parent or go for that promotion at work or even start the business you’ve daydreamed about for years. When you challenge yourself, you’ll truly find out what you’re made of.

It’s OK to start by taking small risks. If you’re normally silent in meetings, speak up. If you’re getting over a painful breakup, join an online dating service. The idea is to practice leaving your comfort zone in small degrees until you’re ready to make a bigger leap.

• Expand your circle. It’s fine to socialize with a core group of friends most of the time, but don’t close yourself off from meeting new people. You never know how a new friendship or relationship could transform your life. Go to a meet-up group that interests you, or join a sports league or running club as a way to socialize and have fun with new people.

• Say yes to every invitation that you possibly can. As you start meeting new people, they’ll invite you to do things. Maybe they’ll ask you to be on a committee or join them in a fundraising effort. These events will be exciting and provide an opportunity to meet more people who may invite you to do other things.

• Find novel ways to celebrate milestones. Big achievements—like promotions, anniversaries, graduations, or even birthdays—deserve thoughtful commemorations. Celebrate them by doing something you’ve never done but have always wanted to try. Consider skydiving or zip lining, or save up for a trip to Costa Rica to observe your 50th birthday.

• Instill curiosity and wonder in your kids. Teach your children to enjoy an adventurous life by exposing them to the world from an early age. Take them along when you travel, introduce them to other cultures and unusual foods, and challenge them to be brave even when it feels uncomfortable to do so.

Vella Mbenna is the author of Muddy Roads Blue Skies: My Journey to the Foreign Service, from the Rural South to Tanzania and Beyond. To her website to learn more.

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