My top 5 lessons from Dr. Seuss

I was born with a congenital heart defect, and so I spent a LOT of time in hospitals until I had, at age four, the final open heart surgery operation (Tetralogy of Fallot) that corrected my malformed “ticker.” With all of this time on my hands, I learned quickly how to lose myself in books, chief among them the work of Theodor Geisel.

As a child, I loved the whimsical sing-songy rhymes that knit his narratives together, but as I got older, I grew to appreciate the greater wisdom tucked into each stanza. Folks who spend a lot of time in the social space will see a couple of his quotes tweeted and retweeted (or quoted in updates, pinned via Pinterest etc.), but some of my favorite snippets of his don’t get a lot of attention by comparison.

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
~ Dr. Seuss

I cited this quote in particular in an earlier post about The Benefits of Being Backwards and for good reason. When I was an art student, there were times when we were instructed to flip a panel upside down and paint/recreate it from the upside down perspective. In addition to flexing different centers of the brain, the results from the upside down copying session were usually more accurate than the right side up ones, because when we see something right side up, we usually filter what we see as “reality” through own lens and interpretations of what we are seeing. When forced to look at something in an unfamiliar frame of reference, we actually see more than that which is present than through what we presume through our filters.

But more to the point of the actual quote, nonsense is vital if we wish to remain open to possibility. By making space for the unplanned and the unorthodox, we allow for unforeseen resolutions of challenges we may be facing. Keep it loose. See what comes of it.

“Being crazy isn’t enough.” ~ Dr. Seuss

This isn’t from a book. But I think it’s important to include, because many times those who see themselves as operating outside the periphery think that it’s simply enough to be Different for Different’s Sake. No. Close, but no.

It’s a start, certainly, because there are insights that can be drawn only from The Outside by the nature of its perspective. If you wish to make a difference, change happens when you ACT on your observations from the periphery. The edge.

Being “crazy” is one thing: effecting change is another. But once you have made the choice to implement your solutions based upon your observations, watch out for the next step…

“If things start happening, don’t worry, don’t stew, just go right along and you’ll start happening too.” ~ Dr. Seuss, Oh the Places You’ll Go

This is the part where you must have faith in yourself, your vision and your ability to withstand the flux of implementation. Once you begin to act, social physics kicks in and your world will begin to alter and shift in response to your actions. In the words of Dare, Dream, Do author Whitney Johnson, you have “disrupted yourself.”

If you can hang in there, you will see that “Things That Start Happening” events will mold you into a stronger, more resilient person. You will become more compassionate. You will become more resourceful. You will expand to become your highest self.

“You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” ~ Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

It is during this time that you MUST train yourself to look for opportunities and ask for the ability to recognize them. Ask daily. Keep an open mind. Albert Einstein has said that problems cannot be solved using the same method of thinking that created them (paraphrase). It is in this spirit that you MUST keep your eyes open, because as you are now in uncharted territory, you will not naturally be conversant with what’s possible.

Learn how to tune in to the signals from your intuition, follow up on the opportunities that resonate with you and keep moving forward.

“I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees for the trees have no tongues.” ~ Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time, Seussian or no. One of the central truths I’ve learned is that all of our power, our talents and our insights are worthless if they are not leveraged to help another actualize and flex his or her own.

As we grow in knowledge and skills, it is incumbent upon ourselves to ask, “are we speaking for those who have no voice?”

Being The Lorax means that you must be secure in yourself, your knowledge and your talents to withstand the onslaught of The Naysayers. It takes courage to stand your ground and speak for those who cannot, for whatever reason, speak for themselves.

The truly powerful understand that it is a privilege and responsibility to defend the weak. Simple as that.

What are your favorite Dr. Seuss quotes? Why? What is it about them that speaks to you?


Molly Cantrell-Kraig is a woman with drive. Possessing an innate sense of purpose and a pragmatic, solution-based approach to empowering people, she fused these two traits in order to establish Women With Drive Foundation. Based upon its founder’s personal history, Women With Drive Foundation is a means through which Cantrell-Kraig may effect change on both a micro and macro level. By providing women with something as essential as personal transportation in order to transition them from poverty to prosperity, she, through Women With Drive Foundation, seeks to empower women to help them help themselves. Through this action, the individual applicant benefits, as does society as a whole. Follow Molly on twitter as @mckra1g or @WWDr1ve (Women With Drive Foundation).

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