"Life has too many hard questions -- what career to choose, what religion to believe, who to marry, where to live, what politics to follow...
Wouldn't it be easier if I could just find one person who could give me all the answers?"
So I wrote a letter to my grandfather Joseph and asked him if he would be that person.
He wrote me back four days later, "Dale, sorry the world is too complicated. You will not find the answers all in one person. Over your life, if you pay attention, you would find a handful of people who can point the way."
I was disappointed.
But a week later a big package came. It was from my grandfather - a huge volume of 11 books by Will and Ariel Durant called "The Story Of Civilization."
Will and Ariel were a husband and wife team. They were prolific - the books total 9,995 pages and took a lifetime of work. A true masterpiece.
They tell the story of the past with a bit of philosophy and a lot of wisdom.
Will believed that, "Science gives us knowledge, but only philosophy can give us wisdom."
The good life we all want is found at the intersection of science, knowledge, philosophy, and wisdom.
The easiest place for you to find the "good life" is in the past. And I don't mean in yesterday's news. Go way back in history. Humans don't change much, even over a thousand years.
Will says, "Most of us spend too much time on the last twenty-four hours and too little on the last six thousand years."
So pick up a book about the past.
Like Buffett says, "We all learn from mistakes, but it's a heck of a lot easier to learn from OTHER people's mistakes."
The best history book I know to start with is a short one by Will and Ariel Durant called "The Lessons Of History."
It's entertaining and deep at the same time.
If you own your own business, here are a few lessons from centuries past that will help your grow as an entrepreneur:
1. “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin
2. “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”Michelangelo
3. “Nothing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be a time. Let it first blossom then bear fruit, then ripen”. Epictetus (C. 55 – C. 135)
Remember, learning from the past takes humility. The good life starts with humility. The meek will inherit the earth.
Like the always funny Mark Twain said, "When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
Got to love Mark Twain.
Dale H. Ferdinand