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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Scott Momaday

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

Every boy who grows up in New Mexico, especially southern New Mexico, knows about Billy The Kid. He's a real presence, an authentic legend. When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with Billy The Kid. We rode the range together. Yeah, that was an aspiration. When I was 12-years-old I was, like Alexander, given a horse. There the comparison ends, but that horse meant everything to me. It was one of my great glories. I must have ridden several thousands of miles on the back of that horse in a period of about five years. That was certainly, a great time in my life. My imagination ran wild with cowboys and Indians. I discovered a book by Will James called Smokey, the Story of a Cow Horse. That was my first great literary experience. I could not, literally could not put it down. When I had finished it, I read everything I could get my hands on by Will James. Sun Up, all kinds of cowboy stuff. The writing was terrible, but the books were wonderful. And so, it made a great difference in my life, too. You know, being the descendent of centaurs, I have always understood the value of a horse, from the time my father began telling me stories. A lot of them were about horses. Horses have always been very important to me.
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Scott Momaday

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

I wanted to succeed. I wanted to write well, and I tried to. I applied myself. I think that writers haven't much choice. You know, if someone really has the impulse to write, then that's what he must do. I don't think there's much of a choice. After the impulse is realized, he writes. And that's how I feel about my development. I think that I was compelled to write, and so I never had the choice of doing anything else, really. I was talking to some kids today at lunch and they were talking about happiness. One of them said "I'm going to Harvard and I'm going into science, I'm not sure that's really what I want to do. I want to be happy., and I might be happy doing any number of other things." I thought, that's true in a way. But if you are really compelled to write, that's where happiness is. It's in doing what you can do, and being the best you can be at it. That really makes for -- I don't know if I'd use the word happiness, but James Earl Jones today talked about contentment. There is certainly a contentment. A satisfaction in doing what you can do.
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Scott Momaday

Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

I think that's probably part of it too, all writers, probably, are a bit insecure all of the time, and very insecure much of the time. But you work against that. That's just how the game is played. You can't let yourself bog down permanently into such a state of despair, or ennui, or whatever it is. You have to work against it. We get back to the idea of the writer having to write. I once read something by Kafka, a letter. He said something to this effect: "God doesn't want me to write, but I have to write." And so there's this terrible tug of war, and you know who wins, but I can't help it, it's just something I have to do. And that's pretty much my philosophy, too.
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Greg Mortenson

Best-Selling Author, Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson: Since my father used to read bedtime stories to me every night -- just as I do when I'm home with my children -- I'm a voracious reader. I love books. I didn't have movies or TV to distract me as a child, so books were really my window to the world, and some books in particular I remember. One is called Territorial Imperative, but it talks about the relationships of animals to each other. That kind of sparked my interest in science. I'm kind of a dull reader. I like non-fiction, and I rarely read a fiction book. If I had more time, I would. But I love to learn and explore, when I hear about new things, whether it's history or music or the arts or anthropology or global geopolitical developments. I always like to delve into books. Because I find a lot of wisdom in gleaning from what other people think and deduce from what's going on in the world.
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Greg Mortenson

Best-Selling Author, Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson: In Tanzania, where I grew up, Mount Kilimanjaro was in our back window. And since I was about six, I begged my dad, "Please. Can I go climb the mountain?" So finally, for my 12th birthday, he let me climb Kilimanjaro. I went with another 11-year-old. And since those early days, I already had a passion for mountains and for climbing. So over time I got more experience. I climbed in many parts of the world. It was something I really loved to do. And I also was a graduate student in neurophysiology, because I wanted to find a cure for epilepsy. So I would climb, and I also worked as a nurse. I got my degree in nursing and chemistry. So I'd work in emergency rooms half the year, and then the other half, I was either studying physiology or mountaineering.
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Story Musgrave

Dean of American Astronauts

Story Musgrave: Space is a calling of mine, it struck like an epiphany. That occurred when NASA expressed an interest in flying people who were other than military test pilots. And when I was off in the Marine Corps in Korea, I had not graduated from high school, yet and so I could not fly. And so, I was not a military test pilot, but as soon as NASA expressed an interest in flying scientists and people who were not military test pilots, that was an epiphany that just came like a stroke of lightning. And, I saw that everything I had ever done in life could be used in that endeavor. It just fit and it felt just right.
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Story Musgrave

Dean of American Astronauts

I work for perfection, for perfection's sake. I don't care what the external reasons are. And it's much more like a ballerina on opening night. You've done what you've got to do. When you go out, the purpose is to turn a perfect turn. You are not thinking about the future of the company, you are not thinking about your future, you're not thinking about the critics, it is you and the perfect turn. It is an Olympic high jumper and the bar, there is nothing else there. And it's taking that form, and those steps, it is doing the pattern, the rhythm that you have built to accomplish the job. And so, getting ready, I choreographed the thing right down to where every finger, every toe, where 300 tools are. How the tools are going to move around. Every work site, what is the right body position to get in? How you restrain yourself, how you get the job done, and not really even touch the telescope.
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