Ray Bradbury, My Motivational Mentor


Geniuses and Renaissance Men

I have had more than my share of these categories of gifted individuals as friends and mentors over the years. Much of what I have accomplished is based on their brilliance and inspiration. Norman Cousins, Leo Buscaglia, Ken Keyes, Jr., and perhaps the greatest motivational teacher and speaker of all, Ray Bradbury. What? You say he was a science fiction writer, not a motivational speaker and teacher? Anyone who says or thinks that obviously has never been to one of his talks, or gotten to know him, or even read what is perhaps the best book on writing ever created, Zen In The Art of Writing.

I’ll quote from just one passage related to the subject of work. (Ray had complimented me mightily on my chapter, Worklove, in Moneylove.) He loved his work as much or more than anyone I ever met, and exuded a childlike delight when talking about it.

Work. It is, above all, the word about which your career will revolve for a lifetime. Beginning now you should become not its slave, which is too mean a term, but its partner. Once you are really a co-sharer of existence with your work, that word will lose its repellent aspect. I can only suggest that we often indulge in made work, in false business, to keep from being bored. Or worse still we conceive the idea of working for money. The money becomes the object, the target, the end-all and be-all. Thus work, being important only as a means to that end, degenerates into boredom.

No one ever provoked my thoughts or stimulated my creativity as easily and often as Ray Bradbury. We met thirty years ago when I was a student and then faculty member at the famed Santa Barbara Writers Conference, where Ray was the permanent opening celebrity speaker. From time to time we exchanged notes, and Ray generously let me quote his poem, Doing Is Being, before it was even published. The last time we had a chance to chat in person was  when he was speaking at a high school in the San Fernando Valley. We had several long conversations over the years, and I interviewed him for my 1981 book, Psychological Immortality. He certainly epitomized the concepts I set forth in that work, living an astonishingly full creative life until he died this week at the age of 91. He also beautifully represents the phrase I first introduced in Moneylove, “Leaving a thumbprint on the world.”

I could go on for days, and I think I just might use his ideas and quotes as the inspirational foundation for the next audio I record for the Moneylove Club. For now, I’ll quote something he told me during that interview for Psychological Immortality:

I think busyness is everything–I  don’t care what you do as long as you’re busy and as long as you love doing it. Orchestra conductors live to be 90 because they’re vigorous and curious. Curiosity is another important factor–if it takes long to achieve and still offers challenges. Busyness connected to curiosity.

I find it interesting that Ray shared this belief in the importance of curiosity with Albert Einstein, whom I recently wrote about. Ray Bradbury was 61 when he said that about orchestra conductors, and he was certainly among the most vigorous and curious of men as he was living another thirty years.


I also wrote some thoughts about Ray Bradbury on my personal blog, which you can check out at:



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