Sunday, September 12, 2010

Curious about Culture: What Cultural Influences Have You Experienced? How Have They Contributed to Your Success?

Definition of Culture: The act or practice of cultivating, or of preparing the earth for seed and raising crops by tillage; as, the culture of the soil. The act of, or any labor or means employed for, training, disciplining, or refining the moral and intellectual nature of man; as, the culture of the mind. The state of being cultivated; result of cultivation; physical improvement; enlightenment and discipline acquired by mental and moral training; civilization; refinement in manners and taste. To cultivate; to educate.

Culture is the process by which a person becomes all that they were created capable of being.” - Thomas Carlyle, Scottish philosopher

This week’s theme of culture has been an incredible adventure of learning and thinking. It started with my reading of Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success. This is one of those books you just can’t put down. Gladwell proves that the usual personal explanations of success don’t work.

In his words, “The culture we belong to and the legacies passed down by our forebears shape the patterns of our achievement in ways we cannot begin to imagine. It’s not enough to ask what successful people are like, in other words. It is only by asking where they came from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn’t.”

And then, looking up and choosing the quotations about culture – as the quotations so often do – provided additional education and wisdom. I hope that the selection will do the same for you, too.

Here goes the additional journey:
  • If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.” - Margaret Mead, American scientist
  • Art at its most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it.” - Marshall McLuhan, Canadian sociologist
  • The worth of a civilization or a culture is not valued in the terms of its material wealth or military power, but by the quality and achievements of its representative individuals - its philosophers, its poets and its artists.” - Herbert Read, English poet
  • A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.” - Mohandas Gandhi, Indian leader
  • I’m just trying to tell a good story and make thought-provoking, entertaining films. I just try and draw upon the great culture we have as a people, from music, novels, the streets.” – Spike Lee, American director
  • New needs need new techniques. And the modern artists have found new ways and new means of making their statements... the modern painter cannot express this age, the airplane, the atom bomb, the radio, in the old forms of the Renaissance or of any other past culture.” - Jackson Pollock, American artist
  • You can't walk alone. Many have given the illusion, but none have really walked alone. Man is not made that way. Each man is bedded in his people, their history, their culture, and their values.” - Peter Abrahams, South African novelist

And some more for your and my adventure with culture:

  • My experiences have been, from the very beginning, cultural and creative. And my business has been a way of exposing the culture, exposing the artists so that the world could hear and see them.” - Russell Simmons, American businessman
  • Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.” - Tom Wolfe, American journalist
  • The chief function of the city is to convert power into form, energy into culture, dead matter into the living symbols of art, biological reproduction into social creativity.” - Lewis Mumford, American sociologist
  • There has to be innate circuitry that does the learning, that creates the culture, that acquires the culture, and that responds to socialization.” - Steven Pinker, Canadian scientist
  • The moment you give up your principles, and your values, you are dead, your culture is dead, your civilization is dead. Period.” - Oriana Fallaci, Italian journalist
  • Science is an integral part of culture. It's not this foreign thing, done by an arcane priesthood. It's one of the glories of the human intellectual tradition.” - Stephen Jay Gould, American scientist
  • There are things in American culture that want to wipe the class distinction. Blue jeans. Ready-made clothes. Coca-Cola.” - Leslie Fiedler, American critic

So, what do you think? I would love to read your comments about the cultures that have helped to create your success. Travel on!