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Learnings from my printer…

Category : life balance

On a somewhat random note, I have a habit of taping interesting fortunes that I get from fortune cookies to a printer on my desk. Why? Because the printer is right in my field of vision and whenever I glance in that direction I can see all these little bits of wisdom reminding me to stop and think about what I’m doing. Or at least give me something to think about (or chuckle).

Printer Wisdom

I’ll let you in on my little bit of printer-wisdom. Here’s the “fortunes” I currently have attached to my printer:

  • “The best way to achieve contentment is to think of others before yourself” - A nice little admonishment to not be selfish, perhaps?
  • “You will be traveling and coming into a fortune” — Wishful thinking? But more importantly, why are the concepts of fortune and traveling linked? Does the fortune come from traveling or vice-versa? Or perhaps travel is an indication of fortune? According to Tim, he seems to imply that the freedom to travel is itself a form of wealth. Hmmm.
  • “Begin… the rest is easy” — Basically, get off your butt and do the thing you are thinking about!
  • “You need to work hard to be ‘lucky’” — I guess there’s no such thing as luck. How does this relate to Fortune #2 above? I guess I’ll be traveling and coming into a fortune only through hard work, eh?
  • “There are no strangers here… only friends you haven’t met!” — Either this is advising me to join a swingers club or pointing out that every contact could lead to the next big opportunity. Don’t burn bridges, maybe?
  • “Stop searching forever. Happiness is just next to you.” — Another piece of Zen wisdom. Be happy with what you have, not what you want.
  • “You will always get what you want through your charm and personality.” – Why, thank you. But I don’t think the intent is to compliment the reader, but rather to suggest that you can get more with a carrot than a stick. My advice: ignore the word “your” in the fortune.
  • “You display the wonderful traits of charm and courtesy” — More reinforcement of the above. In this case, the word “should” is missing between “You” and “display”.
  • Time is precious, but truth is more precious than time.” — What would Tim think about this? I guess be true to yourself first, and then spend your time on the things that are true?
  • “The joyfulness of a man prolongeth his days.” — This fortune is getting all Biblical-speak on me, but the gist is “don’t worry… be happy, and you’ve live long and prosper”. Am I mixing metaphors here? Or another way to look at this is: if you do things that do not produce joy or cause stress, you will shorten your life.
  • People learn little from success, but much from failure” — Another little bit of oft-repeated wisdom. Think big. Start small. Succeed often (which means fail often in a way that brings you closer to success).
  • Great acts of kindness will befall you in the coming months.” — This is an interesting one. I don’t think it’s saying that kindness will drop out of nowhere, but I read it to suggest that I should be keeping an eye out for unexpected kindness and recognize it as a gift. Or perhaps it’s a karmic thing where to get kindness, one has to give it? Either way, I thought this was important enough to be printer-worthy.
  • What you forgive today, will be your compensation tomorrow” — I think this builds upon the previous fortune. If great acts of kindness are to befall me in the future, they will surely be compensation for kindness and forgiveness given today.
  • You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” — Part of the same theme as Fortune #3… the hardest part is just starting. There’s no guarantee of success in life, but without risk, there cannot be reward. So just do it. Maybe I’ll trademark that. Oh, it already has been trademarked? Darn.
  • There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge” — There are two ways to read this. One can read it straight-forward as the only limitations are the ones we place in front of ourselves. Life is challenging enough that you don’t have to make it tougher by putting up unnecessary barriers of doubt and self-defeat. The other way of reading this is that ignorance is bliss. If you don’t know that there are challenges that everyone else knows about, then you’ll never be aware of how hard it is… and maybe even succeed as a result. I’ve heard this many times before in entrepreneurial circles that some have entered a market or industry they knew nothing about and succeeded where everyone else failed because they simply didn’t have any preconceived notions about how “tough it was”.
  • You and your wife will be happy together” — A necessary fortune for any married couple ;) Maybe like Fortune #2 simply wishful thinking, but hey, it’s in writing, so it must be true!
  • You have a reputation for being straightforward and honest” — Just like the earlier fortunes that relate to charm, courtesy, forgiveness, and kindness, I don’t think this is making an ego-centric statement about me, but rather an admonishment. I’d insert again the word “should” between “You” and “have”. If you run your life being straight-forward and honest, provide common courtesy and charm, and forgive unconditionally, then the karma of luck and opportunity will follow.
  • You look happy and proud” — This is another interesting one. Rather than take it at face value, I’m reading this to say that you should have the appearance of happiness and pride in one’s work. Why be a perpetual sour-puss? Why not have pride in your hard work? Of course, being happy without any real cause might make folks wonder if you’re medicated. And being too proud where there’s no cause makes you look haughty and arrogant. I guess it’s being happy about life and exuding confidence in your day-to-day life while feeling content about the results gleaned from hard work.
  • Be patient! The Great Wall didn’t get built in one day” — The Chinese equivalent of “Rome wasn’t built in one day”. Building on the earlier fortune of learning more from failure, this basically states that you should persevere through failure as long as the goal is true. In fact, failure can help you get closer to success as long as the goal is worthwhile. Stick with it!
  • The current year will bring you much happiness” — Happiness seems to be the goal of these fortunes. Tim would say that the goal is not happiness, but rather lack of boredom. I think this fortune is saying that happiness is not a far-away goal, but rather it is possible right here and now. The key is to find those elements keeping you away from happiness.
  • It is never a shame to learn from others” — The final fortune on my printer goes to show that you can not only learn from failure, but learn from other people’s failures. There is no better master than experience. Rather than see it as shameful to ask for help or advice, one should see it as a quicker way to success. While learning from your own failures is good and gives you first-hand knowledge and experience, why beat your head on walls that others have beat theirs on?

So, there you have it – the wall of wisdom enshrined on my printer. Just because it’s there doesn’t mean that I have mastered the ideas and concepts of those fortunes. On the contrary, I put them there to remind me of the things that I need to improve on and keep in mind. So much wisdom from a cheap cookie!

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