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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

There's a lot of frustration in writing. I heard an interview with a writer not long ago in which the interviewer said, tell me, is writing difficult? And the writer said, oh, no no, of course not. He said, "All you do is sit down at a typewriter, you put a page into it, and then you look at it until beads of blood appear on your forehead. That's all there is to it." There are days like that. But when you come away after two or three hours with a sentence, or two, or three and you understand in your heart that those are the best sentences you could have written in that time, there is a satisfaction to that that is like nothing else. That justifies everything. I think that there are people who have a kind of intrinsic love of language. They're born with it. It's a gift of God, if you want. For those people, nothing is as gratifying as writing. In my experience, most people who have had that gift know it, and they celebrate it which is what ought to happen. I think Emily Dickinson knew absolutely that she had a great, great endowment, and that was her life. It is only incidental that she only published five or seven poems in her lifetime. She knew she was a poet, and one of the best. That had to mean a great deal to her.
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Greg Mortenson

Best-Selling Author, Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson: Coming off K2, I was utterly at the limits of my physical and emotional abilities. I was weak and emaciated. I was stumbling. I was somewhat incoherent. I had to walk five days. I got lost off the trail. I spent a night out in the open. It was a quite high altitude, and I remember I had rope burns, so I had an infected arm. Didn't have any food with me. And I remember waking up in the morning, looking up at these beautiful mountains. And then there was a gorak, which is like a raven, circling over me like a buzzard. And that kind of got me motivated to get up and keep moving down the trail. I had to walk five days to get to a village so I could get a jeep and go back to civilization. But the word "failure" was also really resonating in my mind. And it seemed as if my boots were so heavy. Because I felt I didn't feel light and free. I felt as if I really had let Christa down. And then it became more of a survival to get back to the nearest village, so I could get help.
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Greg Mortenson

Best-Selling Author, Three Cups of Tea

Greg Mortenson: I didn't have any money. I was a grad student. I could work as a trauma nurse, so I could earn some income pretty quickly. And I'd figured out in Pakistan I'd need $12,000 to build a school. So I had no clue how to fundraise. And I've been criticized for this sometimes. People say, "Well, why didn't you do this or this?" But I did the best I can. And probably, based on my childhood experiences, the first thing I did is I went to the library, and I looked up books on how to fundraise. Then I talked to the resource librarian. And she said, "Well, let's look up the name of some celebrities and movie stars, and you could write them a letter. And maybe they'll help you out." So we looked up the names of 580 celebrities and movie stars and sports heroes, and I hand-typed 580 letters. I didn't know how to use a computer at the time. So I hand-typed these letters very kind of fastidiously over the next ten weeks. "Dear Sylvester Stallone " or "Dear Michael Jordan " and it didn't seem that bad. But guess what happened? Nothing happened. Then I sold my car. I sold my climbing gear. I sold my books. I sold pretty much everything I owned to raise money for the school. And by the springtime, I'd only raised $2,400. I had about $10,000 to go.
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Greg Mortenson

Best-Selling Author, Three Cups of Tea

Finally, I ended up raising the money and went back to Pakistan in the fall of '94. I got the school supplies. I went three days up the Karakoram Highway on a big old Bedford truck. And then we got up to the village. And there was Haji Ali again to greet me. "As-salaam Alaaikum," which means "Peace be with you." And then again, "Cheezaley?" He said, "You know, we didn't think you were coming back to the village. And not only that, you brought the school supplies. But Son, you've made two big mistakes. First of all, we don't start building right before wintertime. And number two, if you really want to build a school, we have to build a bridge first." So I hadn't calculated that into the equation. So I had to come back to the States, raise $10,000 more dollars. I went back a year later. And in ten weeks, I built a 284-foot span bridge over the Braldu River.
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Greg Mortenson

Best-Selling Author, Three Cups of Tea

I decided at that point that I'd like to dedicate my life to promoting education and literacy, and building schools in Pakistan, Afghanistan. And so, with the blessings of my wife, I decided to start building more schools and getting education started. Our main focus is not in numbers of schools. Today (2008), we have 74 schools. About 26,000 students. We're mainly working with girls' education. But we're not trying to get a lot of numbers. What we're focusing on is where there is no education, and there's usually three reasons why girls aren't getting an education. One is because of physical isolation, they're in such remote areas. Number two, they're in areas of conflict where there's a war, like the India-Pakistan line of control, the border. There are also turbulent areas in Afghanistan. And number three, where there's religious extremism, where Islamic clerics are really opposed to education. So we work very gently by building relationships. Sometimes it takes many, many years. Last year, we started a girls school in a little village called Chunda. It took us eight years to convince the mullah there to start a girls school there. When we started school last year, there were 72 girls in school. Today, there's 340 girls going to school in Chunda Village with the complete blessing of the Imam or the village mullah who was so opposed to it in the beginning.
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Story Musgrave

Dean of American Astronauts

Story Musgrave: I came from an extraordinarily dysfunctional family, full of abuse and alcoholism. And eventually everyone within the family had committed suicide. It's hard to say what drives a three year-old, but I think I had a sense that nature was my solace, and nature was a place in which there was beauty, in which there was order. And so, it may well be that I was, in a way, pushed away from the humanity that I was immersed in, out into a very, very serene and comfortable world.
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Story Musgrave

Dean of American Astronauts

I had told the program, "I am unable to do that job in space," because of loose screws and the fact they were not captive. Because of that, we had come up with a set of clips in which you shove the connector down, and the little springs would come over and grab it. And so screws would not be required. A month before we went to go fly, we got the clips and they were the wrong size. We didn't have time to come up with new clips, so we had to go forward with a job which I had told them could not be done. And we went forward and did it anyway. But I was pressed for hours, right at the edge of my ability, to do it. The outcome was in doubt. And with thousands of hours in a suit, that was by far the hardest work that I've ever had to do. It was just gruesome, meticulous work.
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