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Being an entrepreneur means that you are constantly pulled in multiple directions by changing priorities. Occasionally, I need a break and at Impact Hub Boston, I love that I can go to the community tables and strike up a conversation with a fellow member.  At other times, I just need a quiet space where I can lounge and that’s how I decided to check the Impact Hub Boston’s bookshelf.

One of the great things about coworking in a social enterprise space is that fellow members are more than willing to share knowledge on social impact. The library is no exception. If you haven’t stopped by to find inspiring social impact, tech, and enterprise reads, check out the bookshelf for an energizing knowledge break.

Since I was not looking for heavy reading, the book that caught my attention was Book Cover - Most Important Thing I Knowa small one titled The Most Important Thing I Know – 55 Handwritten Ideas from People Who Changed the World by Lorne Adrain. Intrigued, I was! The book is a collection of handwritten advice from notable figures – starting with Buzz Aldrin and ending with John Wooden. In between are quotes from notable Pulitzer and Nobel prize winners, Bishop Tutu and the Dalai Lama, Wendy Kopp and Yoko Ono. However, my favorite quote came from Nelson Mandela:

The real heroes are men and women who are friends of the poorest of the poor.

The inspirational quotes in the book are perfect motivators for social entrepreneurs, who strive day in and day out to bring about innovative solutions that address social issues. So, what did I learn from reading through these?

My Take-Aways

While this is by no means an exhaustive list and is very much my interpretation, here are a few take-aways as it applies to a social entrepreneur, along with some inspirational quotes.

Be prepared – Be mentally prepared for unexpected contingencies and even failure. Humility is key to success. Ask, discuss, talk. Above all, find time for yourself. Pace through the tasks at hand, connect with those around you, and find ways to relax.

367B5D15-3F02-4231-AD0A-DFA55F334AD5Gary Becker, Nobel Prize in Economics: “To achieve excellence requires taking risks of failure, and inner strength to pursue an idea or other goals despite criticism.”

Find your core – Find the intersection where your talents, skills, experience, and passion merge. Do what brings a sense of fulfillment to you.

Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and South African civil rights activist: “You are a very special person – become what you are.”

Take responsibility – For yourself and your project. Do what YOU can do. Believe in yourself.

Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Historian and advisor to President Kennedy: “Excellence is the eternal quest. We achieve it by living to our highest intellectual standards and our finest moral intuitions. In seeking excellence, take life seriously – but never yourself.”

Persevere – Follow through, even when times get tough. Follow-up always.

79B4546B-D7CB-4508-90D4-3829E3F668D4Peter Gomes, Harvard minister, theologian, and author: “One foot in front of the other on the way from where you are to where you are meant to be.”

Recognize your core values and work ethic – Integrity, sensitivity, service. Honor the other and do everything this way.

Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund: “Service is the rent we each pay for living. It is not something to do in your spare time; it is the very purpose of life.”

Embrace your Team – Based on respect, kindness, and integrity. Treat each other with love and honor. Surround yourself with people with similar goals. Motivate your team to become team players. Reach into the heart where goodness lives and tap in and encourage others to do the same. Base your interactions on love and forgiveness.

David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett-Packard: “Get the best players, develop a spirit of teamwork and get them all fired up with a will to win.”

Find your Inspirations – Driven by common humanity, empathy, and compassion. Let your curiosity drive you.EEB6381E-836A-438D-BC47-8CBC05FF6C5A

John Glenn, United States Marine Corps pilot, pioneering astronaut and United States senator: “An innate, searching curiosity about all around us – what do we not know? – how can we do it differently? – how can we do it better? is at the heart of excellence. Then, human progress and excellence comes when someone goes beyond “why” to “why not?”

Aim high, but be sensible. Form a collective voice on socially important issues. Develop, build, promote, and perform something worthy. Work on projects that enable others. Answer the calling, even when it sounds wild, while acknowledging the civility within us. Be guided by the spirit within. Do and be the best you can do and be; do so with humility. Look to children for inspiration in pioneering. Go where the human needs are.

Lech Walesa, Nobel Peace Prize winner and President of Poland (1990 – 1995): “I had only two things, belief in God and belief in what I was doing.”

Find the right Instruments of success – Education and learning. Leadership with long-term vision. Try, so that you might win! Imagine! Be ready to guide. Learn from others and always be the best that you can be.

Jimmy Pedro, Olympic judo champion: “There is no secret formula to success. All that is required is a lofty dream, hard work, the ability to see yourself achieving your dream, and a relentless desire to make it come true.”