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12 Lessons From Roald Dahl That Will Inspire You

12 Lessons From Roald Dahl That Will Inspire You

Roald Dahl was one of the greatest children’s authors of all time. He was also an incredibly productive and creative person, who wrote dozens of books during his lifetime. Creative people can learn a lot from what Dahl had to say about growing up and becoming more productive and imaginative.

1. Have fun

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men” – Roald Dahl

nonsense

    Working hard is one thing, but it’s important to take a break and have fun. Intelligent, creative and productive people know that making time for an indulgence, a side-passion or even a little nonsense refuels our batteries and makes it easier to get back to work. Plus, if you’re not having fun then what’s the point?

    2. Draw on past experiences

    “A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom” – Roald Dahl

    A Person

      During World War II Dahl became a decorated fighter pilot and intelligence officer for the Royal Air Force. Although he could have clearly pursued and succeeded at other careers after the war, he had a passion for telling stories. His success as a writer shows that our past interests and careers can inform our work.

      3. It’s natural to worry where your ideas come from

      “A writer of fiction lives in fear. Each new day demands new ideas and he can never be sure whether he is going to come up with them or not” – Roald Dahl

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      a writer

        Dahl wrote dozens of short stories, books and screenplays during his life including the BFG, Matilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Even he worried about coming up with new ideas.

        If you’re involved in creative work, accept these fears as part of the process and then move past them. Just keep turning up and putting the work in.

        4. Routine is important

        “I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed salary, and very little original thinking to do” – Roald Dahl

        I began

          Dahl’s observation about having “very little original thinking to do” refers to less creative careers. If you are creative people and stuck in a boring job, you can still thrive. Just save your original thinking for the blank page or for a creative side-project.

          5. Writing takes discipline

          “The writer has to force himself to work. He has to make his own hours and if he doesn’t go to his desk at all there is nobody there to scold him” – Roald Dahl

          The writer

            If you want to succeed as a writer, you will have to become comfortable working in your own company and keeping your own hours. Unlike other professions, nobody is going to demand that you turn up every day and put the work in.

            Although this brings a certain level of freedom, it also means that you have to become even more disciplined and responsible about your craft.

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            6. Keeping a journal is a useful practice

            “Though my father was Norwegian, he always wrote his diaries in perfect English” – Roald Dahl

            Though my father

              Dahl wrote two autobiographies: Boy: Tales of Childhood and Going Solo. Both books have echoes of a journal about them. If you want to become a writer, keeping a journal is a useful practice that can inform your work. You can use your journal to develop ideas for future writing projects, to document the progress of your work and to mark your accomplishments and setbacks.

              7. Creative work is hard work

              “Two hours of writing fiction leaves this writer completely drained. For those two hours he has been in a different place with totally different people” – Roald Dahl

              Completely drained

                Creative work is exciting. It can take you to another place and provide a refuge from the day-to-day world. It’s also difficult and demanding work that can leave you emotionally and physically drained at the end of the process. Tread carefully.

                8. Draw on sensual experience

                “Pear Drops were exciting because they had a dangerous taste. All of us were warned against eating them, and the result was that we ate them more than ever” – Roald Dahl

                Pear

                  If you want to become a writer, it’s important to observe and write about day-to-day experiences that others take for granted. You should record how things look, taste, touch, smell and sound, and then use these sense impressions to paint a colorful picture for your reader. This will bring your work to life.

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                  9. Write with your ideal audience in mind

                  “Had I not had children of my own, I would have never written books for children, nor would I have been capable of doing so.” – Roald Dahl

                  Had I not had children

                    Dahl is on record as saying that he wrote many of his books for his children and later for his grandchildren. He considered the people closest to him when he wrote and he created a world for them on the page. If you’re a writer, you should consider who your ideal reader is, what they want, what they like and what they dislike.

                    10. Have a place to work

                    “I go down to my little hut, where it’s tight and dark and warm, and within minutes I can go back to being six or seven or eight again” – Roald Dahl

                    I go

                      Dahl wrote in a hut at the back of his house for much of his life. Just as office workers go the same place every day, writers and creative professionals should also have a room to work in, where nothing else happens except their work. This makes it easier to create and reduces the chances of procrastination

                      11. Take advantage of the shrinking world

                      “Nowadays you can go anywhere in the world in a few hours, and nothing is fabulous any more.” – Roald Dahl

                      Nowdays

                        Dahl recognized that the world had become vastly smaller during his lifetime, and he lived much of his life in a time pre-internet and pre-mobile phones.

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                        Although this sense of fabulous may be lost, if you get into the habit of sharing your work, the idea of other people reading it doesn’t have to feel exotic. Today, you can create something, publish and share it with the world (on sites like Lifehack).

                        12. Be modest

                        “An autobiography is a book a person writes about his own life and it is usually full of all sorts of boring ideas” – Roald Dahl

                        an auto

                          Lots of famous writers enjoy getting into fights with other writers or talking about how important or grand their work is. Dahl wasn’t afraid to put his profession in perspective and, even though his two autobiographies are anything but boring, he could hardly be accused of being self-aggrandizing or self-promotional.

                          He shows that writers and creative professionals should be more concerned with seeking out truth than they should be about explaining the importance of their work.

                          What are your favorite Roald Dahl books? Has he taught you anything about productivity, creativity or writing? Please let me know in the comments section below.

                          Featured photo credit: Cory Doctorow via creativecommons.org

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                          Last Updated on January 13, 2020

                          50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

                          50 Motivational Quotes for Work to Inspire Success

                          Let’s face it – no matter how excited you are about a new project or priority in your life, there will always be days when your motivation lags. Days when – despite all the progress you’ve made in the past – it just sounds easier to sit on the couch playing video games than to buckle down and crank out the work needed to meet your goals.

                          In order to be successful, you must be able to motivate yourself past these humps. Whenever you feel your drive and determination lagging, turn to these motivational quotes for work to provide the extra spark of passion needed to keep you on track.

                          Quotes about Goal Setting

                          Whether you’re still in the planning phases of your business or whether you’re plotting a plan of attack to bring about your long-range vision, setting good goals is a critical part of succeeding in business.

                          Check out these quotes for extra inspiration on how to turn your dreams into reality:

                          quote-Benjamin-E.-Mays-the-tragedy-in-life-doesnt-lie-in-106113

                            “The tragedy in life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”– Benjamin Mays


                            “By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands — your own.”–Mark Victor Hansen


                            “Give yourself an even greater challenge than the one you are trying to master and you will develop the powers necessary to overcome the original difficulty.”–William J. Bennett – The Book of Virtues


                            “The entrepreneur is essentially a visualizer and actualizer… He can visualize something, and when he visualizes it he sees exactly how to make it happen.”–Robert L. Schwartz

                            Quotes about Achieving Excellence in Work

                            Once you’ve got your goals together, you’ll need to put in 110% of your effort in order to transform these visions into reality. To increase your motivation to work at a consistently high level, take a look at the following words of wisdom:

                            “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”–Aristotle


                            “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”–Charles R. Swindoll

                            Desire is the key to motivation

                              “Desire is the key to motivation, but it’s determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal — a commitment to excellence — that will enable you to attain the success you seek.”–Mario Andretti


                              “The secret of joy in work is contained in one word – excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”–Pearl Buck


                              “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”–Vince Lombardi

                              Quotes about Determination and Persistence

                              Since every business or other endeavor is bound to hit some rough patches, it’s often a person’s level of determination and patience that brings about either success or failure. These positive quotes give you an extra boost of encouragement:

                              “Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths, instead of your weaknesses… on your powers, instead of your problems.”–Paul J. Meyer


                              “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”–Hal Borland


                              “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”–Calvin Coolidge

                              quote-Thomas-Fuller-an-invincible-determination-can-accomplish-almost-anything-92190

                                “An invincible determination can accomplish almost anything and in this lies the great distinction between great men and little men.”–Thomas Fuller

                                Quotes about Leadership

                                Whether you use it to engage your employees, to encourage teamwork or motivate others to follow your unique way of thinking, leadership is crucial. Take your leadership cues from these renowned leaders’ famous sayings:

                                “The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born — that there is a genetic factor to leadership. This myth asserts that people simply either have certain charismatic qualities or not. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born.” –Warren G. Bennis


                                “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.”–John Kenneth Galbraith

                                Leadership is not magnetic personality

                                  “Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”–Peter F. Drucker


                                  “The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.”–John Buchan


                                  “High sentiments always win in the end. The leaders who offer blood, toil, tears and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.”–George Orwell

                                  Quotes for Success

                                  Think of success as a holistic process – one which results from the combination of goal-setting, excellence, patience, determination and leadership you prioritize throughout your career. These highly successful people provide you with an excellent source of motivation:

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                                  “Be patient with yourself. Self-growth is tender; it’s holy ground. There’s no greater investment.”–Stephen Covey


                                  “Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.”–Norman Vincent Peale

                                  Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.

                                    “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”–Winston Churchill


                                    “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.”–John Maxwell


                                    “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”– Thomas J. Watson


                                    “The great successful men of the world have used their imagination.  They think ahead and create their mental picture in all its details, filling in here, adding a little there, altering this a bit and that a bit, but steadily building – steadily building.”–Robert Collier


                                    “It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of life that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at that goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.”–Arnold Toynbee

                                    Sports Quotes for Athletes

                                    You don’t need to be a Michael Jordan-caliber athlete to draw inspiration from the following quotes. Even if you’re just a recreational player or someone who’s using sports as a means to get back in shape after long periods of inactivity, the following motivational sports quotes will encourage you:

                                    “My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.”–Michael Jordan


                                    “Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”–Lance Armstrong

                                    Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.

                                      “Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”–Arnold Schwarzenegger


                                      “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to do whatever it takes. If I do it, I’ll come out a winner, and it doesn’t matter what anyone else does.”–Florence Griffith Joyner


                                      “Every time you stay out late; every time you sleep in; every time you miss a workout; every time you don’t give 100% – You make it that much easier for me to beat you.”–Unknown


                                      “If you are hurt, whether in mind or body, don’t nurse your bruises. Get up and light-heartedly, courageously, good temperedly get ready for the next encounter. This is the only way to take life – this is also ‘playing’ the game!”–Emily Post


                                      “We must train from the inside out. Using our strengths to attack and nullify any weaknesses. It’s not about denying a weakness may exist but about denying its right to persist.”–Vince McConnell

                                      Quotes to Motivate Learning

                                      Committing yourself to pursuing knowledge in a single area is a tremendous endeavor – one that often seems overwhelming given the depth and breadth of information that’s available today. Keep the following motivational quotes in mind if you’re learning:

                                      “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and the strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”–George Washington Carver

                                      quote-William-Arthur-Ward-if-you-can-imagine-it-you-can-36189

                                        “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”–William Arthur Ward


                                        “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”– Aristotle


                                        “Success is not the key to happiness.Happiness is the key to success.If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”–Albert Schweitzer


                                        “Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket: and do not pull it out and strike it, merely to show that you have one.”–Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield


                                        “He who asks is a fool for five minutes, but he who does not ask remains a fool forever.”–Chinese Proverb


                                        “Study while others are sleeping; work while others are loafing; prepare while others are playing; and dream while others are wishing.”–William Arthur Ward


                                        “Books can be dangerous. The best ones should be labeled ‘This could change your life’.”–Helen Exley


                                        “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”–Chinese Proverb

                                        All-Time Favorite Positive Quotes

                                        Finally, whatever your goals are in life, you can’t go wrong by taking the advice of the following famous motivational quotes:

                                        “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”–Norman Vincent Peale


                                        “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drowned your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”–Steve Jobs


                                        “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”–Maria Robinson


                                        “Out of clutter, find Simplicity. From discord, find Harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies Opportunity.”–Albert Einstein


                                        “Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”–Lyndon Johnson

                                        If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

                                          “If we did all the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.”–Thomas Edison


                                          “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”–Wayne Gretzky


                                          “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”–Winston Churchill


                                          “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”–Ralph Waldo Emerson

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          To use these motivational quotes effectively, find the one that speaks to you. Although all of the phrases listed above can be considered “motivational,” only you can decide which one resonates with you most directly.

                                          Next, take the quote you’ve settled on and copy it onto small index cards or other pieces of paper that can be stored around your home and workspace.

                                          If you’re creative, you can create inspiration boards, signs or other decorative displays featuring your favorite motivational quotes – really, though, the most important thing is that your chosen phrase be accessible in a variety of different places. This will make it easy to access and review whenever you feel your motivation slipping away.

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                                          Featured photo credit: Kyle Glenn via unsplash.com

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