Success by Day – Knowledge & Mentors (Paradise Lost)

You’ve heard me talk about Paradise Lost before…Milton was a genius, so there are so many ideas and theories to talk about in his work. This is one of the most relevant, probably: the idea of consuming knowledge and experience. That’s what I’m all about! Enjoy 🙂

P.S. Tomorrow I’ll have that list I promised of the top books I recommend for learning and expanding your mind. I’ve gone through a lot of “stinkers” to find the best of the best 🙂

Figuring Out Life

Paradise Lost

I’m a big fan of learning new things, because I believe that the more we learn the more educated our decisions become, and the more we understand how the world works, and how we work inside of the world.

Recently, I read Aereopagitica, by John Milton. The main argument in that essay is that books should not be influenced or monitored by anyone. No one should stand at the metaphorical door of publication and say, “this book is too dirty, this book will put negative ideas in people’s heads, this book will make people question things, this book is poorly written, this book presents perverse ideas or thoughts that aren’t socially acceptable.”

The argument is that the more things we experience, the more we can form our own opinions. I’ve also been reading Paradise Lost by Milton (a loooot of Milton lately), which is an epic poem about the fall of Satan and the subsequent fall of man. One of the main ideas presented in Paradise Lost is the idea of free will, the necessity for mankind to have the ability to stray from a “good” path in life, because this proves his loyalty to God. In the poem, God struggles with mankind’s freedom, because it never assures he will return to a path of “goodness.”

So why am I telling you this? Well, first of all, it’s interesting to think about, especially if you’ve ever read parts of Paradise Lost. Second, it relates to our own lives because a wealth of knowledge allows us to live life more fully. The more we understand about an idea opposing our own, the more educated our decisions and opinions will be.

I think a goal of everyone’s life should be to continue to learn. The more you learn, the more the world really makes sense to you, and the more you can make sense of your life and how to live it. It affects your success as well: the more you learn about your career or your industry or your job duties, the more of an asset you will be to your company and to yourself. The accumulation of knowledge makes all things clearer.

For this reason, keep an open mind. Learn about things you never thought to learn about. Learn about things that are so contradictory to what you believe, because then you can either reassure your prior convictions, or you can find something to replace them that better suits you and your life.

What Years Of Reading Poetry Has Taught Me


I have been writing poetry since I was in elementary school, and I wrote intermittently through high school. It wasn’t until undergrad when I started reading a lot of poetry, which inspired me to write a lot more often.

There are a few different things I’ve discovered. The first is that it’s really easy to think you’re good at something when you’re the only one doing it. Of course, I wasn’t the only one, but I wasn’t reading anyone else’s work, and so I had nothing to which I could compare myself. What I’m not saying here is that you need to compare yourself to others. Rather, I’m suggesting that you think long and hard about how good you really are at what you do, and do everything in your power to get better.

When I started reading Milton and Keats and Shelley and Byron, I realized that there was a level far above where I was. So far, in fact, that I couldn’t quite see them at first…What I’ve learned from this is that you need to surround yourself with quality people. Like Les Brown says, “if you’re the smartest one in your group, you need to get a new group.” You don’t have to cut out your current group of friends, but start spending time with people who have already done the things you want to do. They will motivate you to get better and to keep progressing, and they might reveal to you a level you never thought possible. Regardless of where you are, you can ALWAYS get just a little better.

And one of the main points there is that you don’t have to surround yourself physically with people who outperform you. You have an unlimited resource to find all of the information and work of other people you want: the internet. Instead of looking at cat pictures, find some area in which you can improve, and then learn how.

Another thing I learned from reading poetry is that when we learn something new, we naturally emulate other people. We do this as children when we look to our parents to learn everything. But at some point, we have to break off and go out on our own. I started my “good writing period” by emulating my favorite poets…namely Keats and Wordsworth. And my writing improved greatly. But when I began breaking away from them and adapting my own style, my poetry flourished and became my own. As I look back at that, I see how it relates to life and to learning: accrue knowledge and copy people who have done what you want to do, and then gradually break away and become your own person.

I think applying these principles to your own work and success will really propel you forward, and have you taking the next step sooner than you anticipated.