Biographies Inspire

Biographies inspire me. They also give me a better understanding about insights.

For me, it’s not necessarily about their contributions to the world, but how these people think, what they feel, and how they behave during the best of times and through personal adversity. Take Stephen Hawking.

Hawking made us rethink the fundamental formation and workings of the universe, connecting cosmology and physics. He brought black holes, big bang theory, quantum physics and particle theory into our consciousness. He connected the big with the very small.

Some of us also associate Hawking with advanced technology (e.g., head, eye and face recognition and speech synthesis). This technology was used to stay a step ahead of the debilitating progressiveness of amyotrophic   lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease).

But for most of us, Hawking brought science into our homes with popular books like A Brief (and Briefer) History of Time, The Universe in a Nutshell, and The Grand Design.

So how can a great thinker, like Stephen Hawking, inspire you?


First, gather some biographical facts about the person. Jot down words and phrases that are the mosaic of his or her life. Do not censor yourself.

The second step is to organize these “gems” into four categories: qualities, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Below is what I have come to understand about Hawking, the public and private persona, and his personal journey.


  1. Eccentric
  2. Brilliant with little effort
  3. Strong will to live
  4. Determination
  5. Healthy respect for others
  6. Spontaneity
  7. Robbed of abilities
  8. Totally reliant on others
  9. Makes the most out of every minute


  1. Deep thoughts
  2. Belief in the human spirit
  3. Turning problems over in your mind
  4. Getting lost in thoughts
  5. Challenging assumptions
  6. Unifying ideas


  1. Passion to understand
  2. Sense of wonder
  3. Keeping calm
  4. Friendship
  5. Power of love
  6. Sense of humor


  1. Stay physically and mentally active
  2. Ask big questions
  3. Harness the power of disability
  4. Celebrate excellence
  5. Use all your senses
  6. Do not take yourself too seriously
  7. See beyond the boundaries
  8. Take an interest in how things work


So what you have here is a snapshot of a great thinker. These actions       represent healthy habits to integrate into your life each and everyday, not just when you are tackling a problem.

What does this say about insights? If Hawking can shed some light on       insights, it’s about transformation. Insights create change albeit in business, strategy, mindset, perceptions and / or life’s path.

These insights do not have to be earth-shattering. There can be an elegant simplicity to an insight that can create change in us.

Steve Xenakis

© 2016 noo F/X, LLC

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