Why George Bernard Shaw Wanted to Be "Used"

In the "Great Quotes: Volume 10" podcast, David Gardner examines what that great and witty playwright once asserted was the “true joy in life."

Motley Fool Staff
Motley Fool Staff
Jun 18, 2019 at 2:55PM
Other

A purpose-driven life is something that many of us strive for, though that's not so easy to achieve. For this Rule Breaker Investing episode, host David Gardner is delivering his 10th "Great Quotes"-themed show. Among the quotes that moved him is a less-than-pithy description by George Bernard Shaw from his play Man and Superman: "This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one...," it begins. What sort of purpose? Read on, or listen in.

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This video was recorded on June 12, 2019.

David Gardner: Great Quotation No. 2. This one comes from George Bernard Shaw. I bet you might have heard this one before. It's one of those, I feel like I've heard it eight or 10 times. But each time I rehear it maybe every year or two, I think that is a great quote. This is from his play Man and Superman, and I was reviewing my notes. (How did I come across this one and save it as I do, the quotations that I save to Evernote, which is where I store a lot of my documents and my thinking over the course of my life? I have my whole life, really, on Evernote over the last 10 years: thousands and thousands of notes and notebooks.) And this one was in fact sent to me after the death of my mother in 2008. It was by one of our board members. Just reminded me some of the perspective about what a great life is, what it sounds or feels like.

So here it is -- George Bernard Shaw:

This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one, the being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me. It is a sort of splendid torch, which I've got held up for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

After sharing the Bezos quote, I thought I want to explain a little bit more around that, lay some scaffolding around reframing, give some examples. For the Bernard Shaw quote on living a great life, we're just going to leave that one right there. There is a wonderful little tool on most of our podcast players, and it's the "rewind it 15 seconds" or "... 30 seconds." Feel free to take that one in a second time, or save it for another day.