My Three Favorite Life-Changing Quotes

While I really don't like empty cliches, I am deeply fond of life-changing quotes.

There's no better feeling that to have a quote send you deep in thought and then have its wisdom just shower over you.

Of course, most of the time I read a quote and then go right back to eating peanut M&Ms and watching The Office.

But sometimes you run into quotes that don't recede into the ether. Sometimes you come across certain wisdom and it never goes away. 

Here are a few quotes that have changed my life:

  • You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. -Robert Pirsig

Just about every student I ever had started their journey with me by hearing this quote. It was the basis of everything I taught. If you want to play perfect tennis, make yourself perfect and play naturally. No matter what level you're currently at, if you get yourself physically fit, eat healthy, sleep properly, remove your ego, don't allow distractions, and be kind to others, you will become an elite tennis player. It worked every time, which is why I love this quote. 

  • People think a revolution is loud provocations, fists in the air, and bloodshed. But if you think true love looks like Romeo and Juliet, you'll overlook a great relationship that grows slowly. If you think your life's purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you'll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you. If you think a revolution needs to feel like war, you'll overlook the importance of just serving people better. When you're onto something great, it won't feel like a revolution. It will feel like uncommon sense.                -Derek Sivers

When I was younger, I thought relationships meant you ended up holding a boombox up toward someone's window. I thought relationships meant you traveled all night after football games to tell someone they complete you. Then I learned that's not true at all. Relationships are eating a cheeseburger together on a Thursday afternoon. Relationships are hanging out watching Boston Legal reruns with your best friend. That's how my life changed. That's how I revolted against the egotistical nincompoop I had been in my previous life. True revolutions come quietly and persistently. Sivers is absolutely right. 

  • You don't have to be mad to have intensity. -Rafa Nadal

Why is that coach yelling? Why are his players running twenty laps around that field? Why does that tennis practice look like a Russian military exhibition? And why did my player just beat that angry coach's player in forty-five minutes?

You don't have to scream to get a point across. You don't have to punish to instill discipline. And you don't have to have Jimmy Connors' maniacal rage to be the 2nd greatest player of all time. Nobody is kinder than Rafael Nadal. And nobody is tougher than Rafael Nadal. You don't have to be angry to be intense.