5 Favorite Renaissance Man Quotes to Live By

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By Jim Woods

When it comes to the wisdom we all need to get us through life, and to help us navigate its inevitable turbulent emotional swings, sometimes all we need is the power of a great quote.

As a Renaissance Man, I’m a big fan of finding wisdom about life from all sorts of disparate sources. That wisdom could come from literature, or from song lyrics, or from sports figures.

Yet wherever it comes from, the wisdom we can gather from others can help keep us high during the best of times… and help us keep our heads high during the worst of times.

Here are five of my favorite quotes that apply to both life—and investing.

“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”

—Ernest Hemingway

One of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway, knew how to live life on the intense edge. Here, the pugnacious novelist reminds us that all that really matters in life is how you spend your days.

When it comes to investing, like Hemingway, you need to be aggressive and intense, as really good results come to those who embrace the action.

Hemingway Woods - The Ultimate Renaissance Man canine
“Hemingway” also is the name of the resident Renaissance Man canine.

“I was blessed with talent, but I worked like I had none.”

—Kobe Bryant

The Los Angeles Laker great always worked harder than just about any of his competitors. Could Kobe have coasted on his innate talent and still done well? Probably. However, it was his attitude and work ethic that set him apart from the rest, and that made him one of the greatest players of all time.

Whatever you do in life, if you adopt the work ethic and attitude of Kobe Bryant, you are likely going to do very well.

If I took the time to bleed from
All the tiny little arrows shot my way,
I wouldn’t be here!

—Rollins Band, “Shine”

In-your-face punk rocker Henry Rollins is a personal hero of mine, as his focused lyrics and penetrating ideas on cultivating strength of will are indeed inspirational.

Here, Rollins reminds us that you are always going to be criticized by others for what you do. And, so what?

Do what you think is best, and ignore the haters, as they’ll always want to shoot arrows your way.

From first to last
The peak is never passed
Something always fires the light
That gets in your eyes

—RUSH, “Marathon”

The quintessential progressive rock trio has the best lyrics in all of rock music. In this song, RUSH tells us that no matter how much you achieve, you can always challenge yourself and achieve more.

This is a great lesson for a Renaissance Man, because no matter how well you do, you can always be a little smarter, a little savvier and a little more fulfilled.

“The quickest descent into unhappiness is to constantly compare yourself to others.”

—Jim Woods

This final one is my own, and it’s helped me keep my restless mind in check on countless occasions.

While it’s natural to gauge your success in life by the success or lack thereof in others, you will drive yourself crazy if you obsess over what others have, or how others are living or what others have achieved.

To be truly happy, you need to be happy with your own striving for success, and for your own victories. In fact, the only person you should compare yourself with is you.

Strive to be better than you were the previous day. If you can achieve that, you’ll be on the path toward happiness—and you’ll be looking through the lens of life like a Renaissance Man.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods


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