Ernest Hemingway's Top 9 Words Of Wisdom

 This post, from Henrik Edberg, originally appeared on his The Positivity Blog on 6/13/08.

“The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.”

As you probably know Ernest Hemingway was a writer, journalist and Nobel Prize Winner. Some of his most famous stories include “The Old Man and The Sea” and “The Sun Also Rises”. He also participated in both World Wars and worked as a correspondent during for instance the Spanish Civil War. Now, here are 9 of my favourite words of wisdom from Ernest Hemingway.

1. Listen.

“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

Learning to really listen to someone rather just waiting for our turn to talk can be a difficult skill to develop. Often we may have much on our mind that we want to say and so listening falls by the wayside.

How can you become a better listener? Here are three tips:

  • Forget about yourself. Focus your attention outward instead of inward in a conversation. Place the mental focus on the person you are talking and listening to instead of yourself. Placing the focus outside of yourself makes you less self-centred and your need to hog the spotlight decreases.
  • Stay present. This will help you to decrease the bad habit of thinking about the future and what you should say next while trying to listen. If you are present and really there while listening then that will also come through in your body language, which gives the person talking a vibe and feeling that you are really listening to what s/he has to say.
  • Be open. Keep your mind open to the possibility that whatever the person is about to say will actually be interesting. If you have already made up your mind that he or she will say something boring then it will be hard to pay attention.

Also, if you really listen then that alone will often provide you naturally with a better and more genuine answer than the clever response thought up while trying to listen simultaneously.

2. Take the first step.

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”

The thing is if two people or more are waiting for someone else to take the first step then that step may never be taken. Or you may at least have to wait for a very long time.

If you after some time realise that, like in this example, you couldn’t trust the person then at least you have learned that.

By not taking the first step you’ll perhaps never know. So instead of waiting around and trying to figure things out just take first steps of different kinds in interactions. Be proactive.

3. Keep your eyes on where you are going.

“Never mistake motion for action.”

It’s very easy to get lost in busy work. You may spend much time in your in-box or filing and organizing things. But at the end of the day or week, what have you accomplished?

Just because you’re moving doesn’t mean that you are moving in the direction you really want to go. To do that you have to do the things that you know are really important and in alignment with your goals. And not getting lost in busy work.

So, improve your effectiveness and productivity. But, more importantly, never lose your view of your big picture. And take the action and do the things you need to do to get yourself where you want to go.

4. Just do.

“The shortest answer is doing the thing.”

How do you get things done? You take action and do them. You may need to do some planning, but don’t get lost in that stage or in over thinking things. Planning or thinking won’t get you any results in real-life if you don’t take action too.

So take action and just try something. Maybe you’ll succeed. Maybe you’ll fail, but if you do then failure can always teach you a bunch of things. The worst thing is not failure, it’s to just sit on your hands and do nothing.

Developing a just do it habit – where you learn to do what you know you want to do despite how you feel or what your thoughts are telling you at the moment – can be difficult. But it’s rewarding not only because you’ll get actual results and – sooner or later – success. It also builds real confidence in yourself, in your capabilities and in your own personal power to achieve what you want in life. 

Read the rest of the post on The Positivity Blog. 

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