Success & Kindness

August 09, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

George Saunders delivered a speech at Syracuse University for the 2013 graduates. The speech was powerful enough that The New York Times ended up publishing it. You can read the full speech here, but below are a few of the themes he touches on that I personally found inspirational:

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness. Those moments when another human being was there, in front of me, suffering, and I responded…sensibly. Reservedly. Mildly.”

“Accomplishment is unreliable. ‘Succeeding,’ whatever that might mean to you, is hard, and the need to do so constantly renews itself (success if like a mountain that keeps growing ahead of you as you hike it), and there’s the very real danger that ‘succeeding’ will take up your whole life, while the big questions go untended.”

“Do all the other things, the ambitious things – travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, fall in love, make and lose those fortunes – but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness. Do those things that incline you toward the big questions, and avoid the things that would reduce you and make you trivial.”


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