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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


Richard Leakey

Paleoanthropologist and Conservationist

I wanted to grow grapes and start a vineyard, and people said, "You can't grow a vineyard in your area. It's six-and-a-half feet above sea level. You're on the Equator. The days are too short. How are you going to grow grapes that make good wine?" So, I said, "Well, why can't I?" and they said, "Well, it can't be done, and you'll have to think of something else." Well, we're producing very good wine today, pinot noir and chardonnay, very drinkable. First time it's been grown. In fact, a wag friend of mine wrote a book and said, "He's growing the best wine in a region twice the size of France." The fact that nobody else is growing any doesn't matter. It's a great sense of achievement, and we serve the wine now to all our friends, and they prefer it to a lot of the wine that is available commercially in Kenya. This is the challenge. If you want something done by me, suggest it can't be done, and then I will engage. I enjoy that very much.
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Richard Leakey

Paleoanthropologist and Conservationist

What struck me is -- if we developed bipedalism six or seven million years ago on the African savannas, rough, thorny country -- there can't have been a single individual who would have lived 20, 30 years who didn't at some stage have his or her leg -- or legs, one or two -- incapacitated. If one leg is incapacitated with a sprain or a break or an abscess or a thorn, unless somebody looks after you on the African savanna, brings you water, brings you food, fends off the hyenas and the lions, you won't make it. Given that everyone was bipedal, there has to have been genetic selection for empathy, for compassion. I believe that is the single strongest characteristic of being human today, and that is our propensity and natural ability to feel empathetic and compassionate and sympathetic. That is the one character that, to me, really sets us apart from other forms of life. That is the one character we really need to rely on to get us through the difficult years and to think globally as opposed to thinking nationally or racially or on the various mini-forms of bonding that we approach. So losing my legs taught me that, too, in a very real sense, and it has become a major part of my public message. Let's go back to fundamentals. We are compassionate. With compassion, we can solve a lot of the problems that threaten us today.
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Richard Leakey

Paleoanthropologist and Conservationist

If a country like Bangladesh goes under water in the next 30 years because of rising sea levels, there are 160-odd million people there, many of them poorly educated, who will be refugees. If it was only the Bangladesh country that went under water, maybe we could deal with it, but we could have a billion people on the run within the next 30 years. Where are we going to put a billion people? The U.S. is having trouble with 11 million illegal refugees, immigrants. What are we going to do when there's a billion of them? Where are we going to feed those sort of people when much of the rice-growing areas of lowland might disappear? The implications of what is coming are enormous, and most leadership is not addressing it outside the framework of their own elected terms.
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Leon Lederman

Nobel Prize in Physics

Leon Lederman: Let's take a metaphor. You have a trunk. And all kinds of combination locks and you know this trunk is important because you found it in an attic. It's covered with cobwebs, and must be really good. People are working on the combinations and you come in, sort of six months later, and they're all working on the combinations, and they have these papers and computer codes, and they're working out, and you say, "Look at all these bright guys. They haven't been able to get into the trunk. There's something they're missing." And you walk around the back -- the back is open. Nobody went to look at the back of the trunk. Well, it's kind of a silly metaphor but, in a way, science can often be that way. You know that a lot of very bright people have been working on a problem. You know there's a solution, right? So, you say, "What is it that they haven't thought about?"
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Leon Lederman

Nobel Prize in Physics

Leon Lederman: Many, many great theoretical breakthroughs in physics and mathematics were done by very young people. Of course, you have to know something, so that's experience, and experience grows with age, creativity is declining with age. You've got to find that balance between the two which will give you your peak years of accomplishment. If you have pure creativity, but you don't know anything, it's too bad. Sometimes it's bad to know too much. I remember Wolfgang Pauli, a very famous Austrian physicist, complaining about his own lack of creativity, said, "Ach, I know too much!" You see, if you know too much, then you don't have that fresh view which allows you to see the breakthrough idea.
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John Lewis

Champion of Civil Rights

John Lewis: I was not the brightest student. I studied. I worked hard, but from time to time my mother and father, especially my father, wanted us to stay out of school and work in the field, and I knew I needed to get an education. I wanted to get an education. So sometimes when my father would suggest that we'd have to stay home and plot a mule, help gather the crops, I would get up early in the morning, get dressed, and get my book bag and hide under the front porch, and when I heard the school bus coming up the hill, I would run out and get on that school bus and go off to school. And sometimes my father would say, "You know, I told you to stay home, but you went off to school." And we would talk, but he knew that I saw the value of education and I wanted to get an education. I didn't like working out in the hot sun picking cotton, pulling corn, gathering peanuts, and I wanted to get an education because I knew I needed it, and I knew it would be better for me in the days and years to come.
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John Lewis

Champion of Civil Rights

We need to find a way to make this world a little more peaceful. Maybe this generation of young people can get humankind to come to another level, to move to a higher level where we can lay down the tools and instruments of violence and war and stop the madness. Maybe in our own country we can do something about providing health care for all of our citizens, that some of the resources that we use to build bombs and missiles and guns can be used for education, for health care, taking care of the elderly, our children, the disabled, the homeless, and find a cure for some of the ills and diseases that impact human beings, not just here in America but around the world.
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