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The Door of Opportunity…Is Not the Only Door


Landon Saunders

            There was a young man who was an overachiever and a fast learner. He found the door of opportunity, entered it, and succeeded, and still had half of his life left.

            Yet, his life felt empty. He felt unsatisfied with his success. After some thought, he realized what had happened: His education had taught him how to make a living, but not how to make a life.

            His education had led him to believe that life had only one door—the door of opportunity. He got through that door quickly—and found himself in the backyard.

            A great education is like a great house—it offers many doors that lead to many rooms and lots of options to explore.

            When one enters the door of opportunity, one must also be exploring other dimensions of life—such as relationships, joyfulness, tragedy, caring, giving back and personal growth.

             Such an approach prepares you for the times when the door of opportunity seems stuck!

            Life has many doors, many options. And the greatest security is found in the many options life has for us—the many roomedness of a whole life.

            These options provide for growth—when we’re living in the warm sunlight, as well as in the cold of loneliness, rejection or failure. We must be careful to not contract into small-mindedness, selfishness, bitterness—just because we have to spend some time in the cold.

            Your life can be a little more like the life of the Pony Express Rider. When the idea or option you are riding begins to tire, you can find a way to get a fresh mount and be on your way again, with little delay.

            The education you most need will prepare you to create a great life out of whatever circumstances you face. But it is up to you to insist on getting such an education.

            As George Bernard Shaw put it: “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can’t find them, they make them.”

COMING MONDAY: The Man Who Would Be King

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

The Third Education: Realizing That You Can Fly



Landon Saunders

            The French philosopher Montesquieu wrote: “We receive three educations: one from our parents, one from our school-masters, and one from the world, and the third one contradicts the first two.”

           I cited this quote in a speech, and nearly every head vigorously nodded in agreement.

            Why is this? Why does the education we receive from the world differ from the one received from parents and school?

            One reason lies in the difference between living in a more controlled environment and living “on our own”—the difference between operating a simulator and operating the controls on your first real flight as the pilot.

            But, of greater significance is the confrontation with Tragedy. Tragedy is one of the world’s greatest teachers. Here is an interview with Tragedy:

            Interviewer: You hurt me.

            Tragedy: Sure I hurt you. I am the combat boots that crush your fingers as you cling to the edge of the cliff.

            Interviewer: Why?

            Tragedy: I do it because I’m one of your teachers. If you didn’t lose your grip on the cliff, you would never realize that you can fly.

            This is harsh, you say. And it is. But have you ever known tragedy to be tactful and diplomatic? Have you ever known it to be reasonable? Does it say, “Excuse me, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll cause you to suffer today?” No, there’s almost no way to prepare specifically for a meeting with tragedy.

            And there’s no way to avoid it. Every life suffers. Any difference is only one of degree.

            Let us be clear about what we are saying: Life must deal with the tragic, but that does not mean that life is pathetic. Pathetic life leads to deadness inside. Facing the tragic with courage leads to passion and strength.

            We will never know how much we can do, how free we can be, or how high we can fly until we have the courage to look suffering in the eye and defy it.

            The education we most need, then, teaches us to face tragedy in a way that leads to joy and causes us to grow stronger.

COMING FRIDAY: The Door of Opportunity

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Overcoming the Gray Death



Landon Saunders

            You’ve heard of the Black Death of the Middle Ages. It wiped out a third of the population of Europe and terrified the rest.

            The Gray Death of our day is different. Its toll is already greater than that of the Black Death. Yet, more people fear tooth decay than fear the Gray Death.

            The Gray Death first infected the professors and intellectuals, then spread to government, education, family life and especially the media.

            The Gray Death is the disease of diagnosis. Everything is analyzed, given a name, and diagnosed to death. We suffer from the paralysis of analysis.

            I was always warned not to read the medical books. You begin to feel every symptom! You can make yourself sick! And now we have all these new diseases as a result of psychological analysis.

            When my mother was seventy-two, I asked her if she ever suffered from a poor self-image. Did she ever have a time when she didn’t like herself?

            She tried her best to answer, but without much success. Finally, she sighed and said, “Landon, you must remember, that was before psychology!”

            Today, many people suffer from the plague of too much analysis. Their plague-infested ideas are catapulted into our living rooms through the news programs, into our bedrooms through the latest sex manuals, and into our relationships with our children through the latest theories on child-rearing.

            When we get an analysis or a diagnosis, we seem content. We look at the map that’s been drawn for us and we nod or shake our heads—but we never get down to doing anything. We confuse reading the map (diagnosis) with going on the journey (living).

            As a result, each diagnosis is just another ice cube to put in the “fridge” of our minds. Our education, more and more, offers us only freeze-dried, just-get-by TV dinners for the heart and mind. We are spectators at our own lives.

             The education we most need teaches us that we don’t evolve unless we are truly involved. True education leads us to a way to live that has heart, a way that makes us want to get on passionately with the business of living—instead of just listening to the diagnosis. This is how we overcome the Gray Death.

COMING MONDAY: The Third Education

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

The Well That Can Save Us



Landon Saunders

            Once there was a well. Stones had been gathered around the mouth of the well. These were courage, duty, honor, loyalty and knowledge. Hanging down into the well was the rope and bucket of faith.

            A terrible scourge hit. The land was infected with raging thirst that caused human beings to shed the blood of their fellow human beings.

            The thirst became so great in the land that the stones of courage, duty, honor, loyalty and knowledge were all used as weapons against opponents.

            The rope and bucket of faith were grabbed and swung in great sweeps to smash heads; and finally, the rope was noosed to aid the executioners in their hangings.

            Deep in the well was the one thing that could quench the raging thirst that had led them to hurt one another—the cool waters of compassion.

            Only compassion was not infected by the madness.

            Courage without compassion is a killing force. Faith without compassion is inquisitional. Knowledge without compassion only succeeds into turning a stone into a nuclear warhead.

            Only a deep well of compassion at the center of a human being can protect him from the damning madness that causes him to hurt others—especially the people he most loves.

             The education we most need teaches compassion. This gives us the right kind of heart. It also causes us to take action. As the Irish say, “Nodding the head does not row the boat.” We need to know what to do, and then we must do it.


[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

Refrigerator Heads



Landon Saunders

            Aristotle, the man who seemed to know almost everything, had one real zinger of an idea—he thought the brain served no other purpose than to cool the blood.

            Now, as far wrong as that is, I’m afraid it describes the impact of much that is called education. We have progressed from “being cool” to “chilling out” to “the big chill.” Are we being told we’re the Generation of Refrigerator Heads?

            Anthropologist Gregory Bateson has stated that you can’t teach most American students—even graduate students—because they don’t say, “Oh my God, that completely revolutionizes my thinking.” He says they just dispassionately agree with everything. This is what is meant by the Generation of the Refrigerator Heads.

            The education we need would help us rediscover some ideas we could embrace with passion and excitement. There is no greatness without passion.

            So much education today contributes to the fragmentation of our lives. Our lives are fragmented, and our thinking is fragmented. Knowledge itself has been fragmented.

            The fragmentation has reached to what we call our institutions of higher learning. As C. S. Lewis once pointed out, the university today could more accurately be called a “multiversity.” Rather than trying to unify (university) and correlate human knowledge, it scatters and departmentalizes it into fragments—none of whichmake much sense divorced from the total picture.

            The education we most need fills in the total picture as much as possible. And the picture it gives us is one in which caring is possible—caring for truth, goodness and beauty, caring for the life of every human being.

            When von Hugel, the philosopher, was on his death bed, his little niece noticed that his lips were moving, but she couldn’t hear him. She quickly put her ear close and heard his last words: “Caring is everything; nothing matters but caring.”

            We need a world view in which something truly matters. A passion for compassion.

COMING MONDAY: The Well That Can Save Us

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

We Need Our Heads Examined



Landon Saunders


            Have you ever suffered from Rigid-brain Syndrome? Mark Twain wrote a letter to a person who had this problem and recommended a drastic cure.

            He wrote, “It is discouraging to try to penetrate a mind like yours. You ought to get it out and dance on it. That would take some of the rigidity out of it. You really must get your mind out and have it repaired; you’ll see yourself, that it is all caked together.”

            The problem isn’t lack of information; we’ve got plenty of that. It’s a lack of passion and purpose for the information, a lack of drive and dream and direction.

            When nothing is done about this—when there’s no purpose and direction—we are in danger of becoming—how shall I put this? Well, here’s what one guy was called who suffered from this problem: Swamphead!

            You see, in every person there is an upsurging of life and energy that has to go somewhere. If it fails to flow and find direction, fails to cut a river, it creates a swamp. When life grows stagnant, unpleasant things are bred—nasty pests and reptiles of the mind including anxiety, depression, and loss of meaning.

            Still another character was called Grasshopper-Brain, a nickname that also described a state of mind. Grasshopper was constantly jumping from one thought to another, never staying with any one issue long enough to grasp it or be grasped by it.

            One day as he hopped along, he came too near the edge of a cliff and fell several feet to land on a tiny ledge.

            For the first time in his life, Grasshopper stopped jumping around. All of a thousand thoughts became one: “How do I get off this ledge?”

            Samuel Johnson once said, “When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”

            The education you most need teaches you the importance of finding purpose, direction and concentration for your life. Even if you have only a fortnight to live, you have enough time to do everything you really need to do in your life.

            Are you beginning to sense ever more deeply the power of this idea?

COMING FRIDAY: Refrigerator Heads


The Time Management Expert



Landon Saunders

            What if you are successfully managing…the wrong things in your life? Has your education given you the proper ideas to manage?

            Once there was a time management expert who was founder and president of a successful time management company. He called his company “Omni-Bee.” His logo was a gyrating bee—inspired by the dance of the honeybee who returns to the hive to communicate where she found a flower.

            His company had prospered. The books and tapes were best-sellers, and his public appearances drew large crowds.

            One night, this successful man had a terrible dream—he dreamed he was dying. In his dream he reached out his hand desperately grasping his “To Do” list that he had faithfully prepared. He glanced at it, crushed it into a ball and let it drop to the floor.

            He awakened wet with perspiration. As he lay there, he couldn’t keep from thinking about his life. All his adult life he’d travelled the country urging people not to waste their time, and he had practiced what he preached. He never wasted time.

            But as he lay there thinking, he suddenly realized he had wasted something of far greater importance—he had wasted his life.

            It wasn’t that he had not done a lot of good things. He had. His problem was, he had neglected the things that are most important: family, relationships, generosity, love.

            Managing time can be just an elegant way of killing time—if it is based on a fragmented view of what it means to be human.

            The education you most need tells you how to manage time—but it also gives you a world view that enables you to manage your time doing the right things, the things that matter, the things that make for a fulfilled life.          

            I like the way Edward Hall put it: “This is what intelligence is: paying attention to the right things.” When you decide to pay attention to the right things, it begins to give your life focus, direction, purpose, power…and maybe best of all, peace.

COMING MONDAY: We Need Our Heads Examined

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

The Education We Most Need



Geoffery Moore


I want to make a few comments about Landon’s thoughts on education that we shared on Monday.

A few years ago, I read a question that really got my attention. Well, actually, there were two questions.

But before I give you these questions, I want to ask you to get ready for them. Turn off all the chattering in your brain. Turn off all the to-do lists, all the worries. Turn off all the news and noise. Turn it all off.

Now, are you ready? Here are the questions:

First: What did you come into the world to learn? Second: Have you learned it?

In other words: what is the education a person most needs in life?

I’ve lived with these questions for a while, and I suspect they have little to do with book learning. I think they. are about the inside part of education–the part that goes to the meaning of our lives.

As some have observed, in our time we’ve lost the inside part of education. Gradually, education focused more and more on the technical and less and less on the total, human life. It’s an education that can help us function, but it doesn’t tell us why we should function.

We are so busy inventing new things that we no longer have time for the truly big questions. And the big question is still the same: YOU. Nothing that engages the minds of human beings has the magnitude of this issue. What is a human being? What is a man? What is a woman? What is it to be truly alive? What is the meaning of a life?

The danger is that the answers to these central questions will be assumed. Taken for granted. And when that happens, something precious is lost.

So what do we do?

I like the way the German poet Rilke put it. He said we should not be in such a hurry to get answers, but we should love the questions and live the questions—and then, by and by, we may live ourselves into an answer.

So I leave you with two questions to love and live with:

What did you come into the world to learn? And have you learned it?

“How old will I be before I’m educated?”



Landon Saunders

            “How old will I be before I’m educated,” the young man asked himself.

            He calculated how old he would be before he got his Ph.D. But then he asked himself whether that would mean he was educated.

            As he thought about what he meant by “educated,” he gained a startling insight: his thinking included nothing but himself..

            He decided that thinking about nothing but yourself was a sign of being uneducated. This meant that some of the Ph.D.’s he’d met were uneducated.

            Maybe, thought the young man, education comes with age and experience. Then he thought back on many of the older people he’d been around, and realized that growing older has little to do with growing wiser. Even reaching the age of ninety wouldn’t be enough. To be truly educated, he would have to be much older…and much younger.

            With all of these thoughts swirling in his head, he sat down and wrote these words:

            I want to be as old as eternity…because only eternity can broaden my interests beyond myself.

             I want to be too old to lick my wounds. Too old to complain. Too old to be afraid. I want to be as old as eternity, for, to eternity, even death goes unnoticed.

            I want to be too old to panic at pain. I want to be old enough not to be a messiah when being a friend would be enough. Old enough to know I can’t live others’ lives no matter how much I love them. I want to be old enough to know that I am and always have been in love. Old enough to laugh and cry at the same time. Old enough to look daily into the raw terror and the raw joy. Old enough not to know better than to risk my life for any instant of total “Let there be light.”

 COMING FRIDAY: The Time Management Expert

[This is an excerpt from, How To Win 7 Out Of 8 Days A Week by Landon Saunders which is out of print and used by permission. In 2024 we will work through the entire book, with posts two or three times a week. – Geoffery Moore, Editor]

           The Living Conversation is based on the work of Heartbeat, a non-profit educational organization founded by Landon Saunders in 1971. Landon spoke to tens of millions in his Heartbeat radio program over the NBC, CBS, and Mutual radio networks. He gave workshops and speeches in more than 100 cities across America, This blog is a free public service. There is no charge to subscribe, your information will never be shared with anyone, and you can cancel at any time.