The Countdown to Success: 55 words of inspiration

The Countdown to Success: 55 words of inspiration:

As an academic of almost 55 years, I have often been told that we are inclined to take almost an hour to make a point, and our background building itself takes more time than the span of attention of the young. 

In this VUCA ( volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world) living in an age of brevity of instant messaging with WhatsApp, I began to reflect upon what age old wisdom I could share with the youth of today,perhaps as Tweets.

So I created a countdown beginning with an inspirational message in 10 words, then one in 9 words and so on in decreasing order, till finally I was down to one word.

And amazingly, the one word Philosophy of ‘ Excel’ or a two word mission of ‘ Just Shine’, which is the sole purpose of the sun, while it burns fiercely inside are just amazing. The opposite of excellence is mediocrity, which should be avoided and the purpose of all motivational and inspirational messages is to help us transcend mediocrity and achieve our full potential. 

Here it is:

{10}: An inspirational thought in 10 words “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached “: Swami Vivekanand

{9}: Get inspired in 9 words ” Let noble thoughts come to us from all directions”: Rigveda

{8}: Get motivated by 8 words : ” The harder I work, the luckier I get” : Thomas Jefferson

{7}: Stay away from financial crises with 7 words : “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” : William Shakespeare

{6}: Your real freedom in 6 simple words : ” No one can imprison my mind”: Mahatma Gandhi

{5}: Guide your life with 5 words: ” Be a lamp unto yourself ” Gautam Buddha

{4}: Being responsible in 4 words : ” God does not play dice” : Albert Einstein

{3}: Going Solo in 3 words” Ekla Chalo Re”: Rabindra Nath Tagore

{2}: A life’s mission in just 2 words: ”Just Shine”…. like the Sun

{1}: The one word world view : “Excel”: We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act but a habit: Aristotle

I posted this on my blog, more than 5 years ago, on August 19th, 2015. Here is the link :

I used them in closing a TEDx talk that I did again around 4 years back. Here is the link My 55 words of inspiration are at 18 minutes, towards the end of the talk.

And more recently, during the lockdown it was again included towards the closing of an interview, at 41 minutes, to which the link is here:

Many of you will recognise 55 as the sum of the first 10 natural numbers. Some of you may even remember the formula n(n+1)/2 as the formula for the sum of the first ‘n’ natural numbers. 

There is a well-known story of the Mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss. When Gauss was still at primary school, one day Gauss’ teacher wrote the numbers from 1 to 100 on the blackboard and asked the class to add together all the numbers from 1 to 100, assuming that this task would keep the class occupied for quite a while, so that in the meantime he could catch up on some other work that he had to do.  But Gauss amazed his teacher by coming up  after a few seconds, with the answer as 5050. When asked to explain how he could do this adding of 100 numbers so quickly, Gauss explained that there were fifty pairs of numbers when he added the first and last number in the series, the second and second-last number in the series, and so on. For example: (1 + 100), (2 + 99), (3 + 98), . . . , and each such pair has a sum of 101. And then he multiplied 101 by 50. 

For the purpose of this post, I tried to create some alternative sets in the same pattern. 

Here is the 2nd set:

10 words : Every saint has a past, every sinner has a future: Oscar Wilde

9   words: Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition: Steve Jobs 

8  words: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong : Murphy’s Law

7  words: Success is where preparation and opportunity meet: Bobby Unser

6  words: A stitch in time saves nine: a well known proverb whose origins are not known

5  words: I think, therefore I am : Rene deCartes

4  words: I have a dream : Martin Luther King

3  words: Clarity preceded success: Robin Sharma

2  words: Power corrupts : Francis Bacon 

1   word: Gratitude :It is not just a word, it is a way of life: Rob Martin

I am sure that many members of this group will be able to suggest several other alternatives to these set of inspirational and motivational phrases. Please do share them in this group. Even if you are not able to contribute a full set of 55 words, even if you suggest a partial set, it would be appreciated. This will be a step towards making this a more active learning community. 

Here is yet another set : the 3rd set 

# 10 words :  I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious: Albert Einstein

#9   words: We build too many walls and not enough bridges: Isaac Newton

#8  words: Success is not final, failure is not fatal: Winston Churchill

#7  words: Commitment is an act, not a word: Jean-Paul Sartre

#6  words: We must cultivate our own garden: Voltaire 

#5  words: Creativity is just connecting things: Steve Jobs

#4  words: You ought to dream : Ernest Hemingway

#3  words: Knowledge is Power: Francis Bacon

#2  words:  Hasten slowly : Augustus

#1   word: Dream : I have a dream : Martin Luther King Jr

And finally a 4th set: 

10 words: Father forgive them, for they know not what they do: Jesus Christ 

  9 words: No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking: Voltaire

  8 words: Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change: Stephen Hawking

   7 words: The unexamined life is not worth living : Socrates

   6 words: Work expands to fill the time: Parkinson’s Law

   5 words: You cannot predict the future: Stephen Hawking

   4 words: Stay hungry. Stay foolish: Steve Jobs

   3 words: Genius is patience : Isaac Newton 

   2 words: Look within : Marcus Aurelius 

   1 word: Imagine: Imagination is more important than Knowledge : Albert Einstein

By combining these inspirational sentences from different sets, one can create several combinations of 55 words of inspiration. If we just had the first 2 sets, then we had 2 choices for each of the 10 sentences. This gives rise to 2x2x2x2x 2x2x2x2x2x2=1024 possibilities. With 3 sets it gives rise to 59049 possibilities. With the 4 sets that we have, we could have 1048576 possibilities for the 55 words of inspiration. If we prepare 10 sets of these, the possibilities would become 10000000000. Just one more example of how complexity can arise out of simplicity. 


About mmpant

Prof. M.M.Pant has a Ph.D in Computational Physics, along with a Professional Law Degree, and has been a practitioner in the fields of Law, IT enabled education and IT implementation. Drawing upon his experience in world class international institutions and having taught in various modes of Face-to-Face, Distance Learning and Technology Enhanced Training, Prof. Pant is now exploring the nature of institutions which will be successors to the IITs, which represented the 1960s, IIMs, which represented the 1970 and Open Universities which were the rage of 1980s & 90s. He believes that the convergence between various media and technologies would fundamentally alter the way learning would be created, packaged, and delivered to learners. His current activities are all directed toward actual implementation of these new age educational initiatives that transform education in the post Internet post WTO era.. Prof. Pant, has been a Former Pro-Vice Chancellor, Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and has been on the faculty of IIT – Kanpur (the premier Engineering institution in India), MLNR Engineering College and Faculty & Visiting Professor - University of Western Ontario-Canada. He has been visiting scientist to research centers in Italy, England, Germany & Sweden and has delivered international lectures with about 80 papers published. During his association of almost 15 years with the IGNOU, Prof. Pant has served as the Director Computing and has been the Member of All Bodies (i.e. School boards, Academic council, Planning board, Finance committee and the Board of management). With his interest in Law, backed with practice of Law in a High Court, and his basic training in Science and IT, Prof. Pant has been particularly interested in the Cyber Law, Patent & trade mark issues, Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) issues etc. and has been involved with many activities, conferences on “Law & IT” Prof. Pant is presently; • Advisor to Media Lab Asia - Chairman of working group on ICT for Education, chairman of PRSG handling projects on ICT for education. • Lead Consultant for an ADB funded project for ICT in Basic Education in Uzbekistan • Member of the drafting Group for India’s National Policy on ICT in education • Chairman of the group creating books for class 11 and 12 students on ‘Computers and Communication Technology’ appointed by the NCERT • Preparing a ‘Theme Paper” for the NCTE in the area of ICT and Teacher Training • Advisor and mentor to several leading Indian and Multi-national Companies in the area of education. Prof. Pant has in the recent past been ; • Member – Board of Management – I I T, Delhi for 6 years (two consecutive terms) • One-man committee to create the Project Report & Legislation for Delhi IT-enabled Open University • Advisor to the Delhi Government on Asian Network of Major Cities Project (ANMC-21) distance learning project in association with Tokyo Metropolitan Government. • Chairman Board of Studies, All India Management Association With his mission to create and implement new business opportunities in the area of e-learning & learning facilitation, Prof. Pant has promoted Planet EDU Pvt. Ltd., as its Founder & Chairman, along with a team of highly experienced and skilled professionals from Education & Training, Operations, IT and Finance.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The Countdown to Success: 55 words of inspiration

  1. Manoj Pant says:

    Fascinating write up loved it

Leave a Reply