Damon Cortesi's blog

Musings of an entrepreneur.


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Several years ago, when I was in high school, my father gave me several … motivational quotes. I recall building a desk with him in my bedroom out of an old door. Six feet long, it was an area where I could spread out and both study, as well as work on my computer. On top of the desk was a sheet of glass, underneath which were these various quotes. I don’t recall if I put them there or he did, but these water-stained, sun-faded pieces of paper hang in my kitchen to this very day.

I didn’t realize it then, but these simple pieces of paper would impact how I approached life for the next decade and beyond. These simple reminders, looking up at me while I would be studying, constantly reminded me that life is what we make of it. In most cases, if we work hard and put effort into our lives, we are rewarded in kind. I saw a quotation from Michael Jordan this evening, and it reminded me of one of my favorite pieces. Like many kids, I was a fan of Jordan growing up. This quotation is attributed to him:

“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

Similarly, my father provided me with the following piece from Charles Swindoll:

The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our attitudes.

What were the other pieces, you ask?

“If”, by Rudyard Kipling was one. The other was about avoiding energy vampires. Accompanied by the Swindoll piece, it mentioned:

  1. Out attitude at the beginning of any task determines its success or failure.
  2. The mind carries only one thought at a time - so make it positive, not negative.
  3. Our attitude towards life determines life’s attitude toward us
  4. Human beings want to be appreciated - needed. Give this appreciation and it will be returned to you.
  5. Look for the best in others. You can learn something from everyone.
  6. Don’t talk about personal problems, bad luck, or poor state-of-health - no one else is interested
  7. Radiate the attitude of well being, confidence, and enthusiasm - others will follow your lead.
  8. Success or failure in anything is caused more by MENTAL ATTITUDE than by mental capacity.
  9. Become the kind of individual you want to be. Remember - you are what you think…YOU ARE!

Thanks, Dad. I wouldn’t be who and where I am today without you. You have given me both the work ethic and the attitude necessary to succeed.