What did Einstein mean (discussing success): "and z is keeping your mouth shut"

In summary: He was speaking to a group of physicists, many of whom were already eminent. He was trying to urge them to maintain their humility and not to get too cocky.
  • #1

wrobel

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by this quote "If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut."

i wonder if "z" means "say nobody about your results until they are published" or "work and do not gab on empty"
 
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  • #2
Or maybe ##z## means that we shouldn't boast in life about our success. The fact is, the point of maxima is always an unstable equilibrium, and it is very easy to fall down from there.

Your explanation:
wrobel said:
say nobody about your results until they are published
could be equally true. There are a large number of examples, especially in particle physics, where a physicist has discussed something with his colleague over the coffee table, and the latter completed the former's work and published it before the former did, thereby getting all the appreciation actually due to the former.
 
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  • #3
Other reasons he might have said that talking too much draws attention to you if you make politically dangerous comments especially in Germany in the '30's. Sometimes even well meaning comments produce unfavorable.reactions causing one distress. Einstein was a pacifist and publicly denounce the use of the A bomb although he supported its development. This may have been the reason that he was suspected of communist leanings by the US government.
 
  • #4
He didn't keep his mouth shut... :-D
So many quotes of his...
 
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  • #5
wrobel said:
by this quote "If A is a success in life, then A equals x plus y plus z. Work is x; y is play; and z is keeping your mouth shut."...

For a pacifist Einstein had remarkable insight into the military. To paraphrase the prototypical sergeant to trainee, "Soldier, shut up and soldier!" or the navy-marine version, "Work your guns, not your jaws." The civilian version might say, "Do not talk your way out of a good job.".
 
  • #6
How old was he when he said that? If it was later in life, he may have come to see that domestic tranquility sometimes requires holding one's tongue.
 
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  • #7
gmax137 said:
How old was he when he said that? If it was later in life, he may have come to see that domestic tranquility sometimes requires holding one's tongue.
As per this site, Einstein said the quoted lines in 1929. He was 50 years old then.
 
  • #8
Btw, he said muse not play.

In my opinion he meant: Let others judge. It's a call for modesty. Any other interpretation ignores in my mind the common system of moral values in 1929.

There is a modern days version of this attitude of modesty, partly meant as sarcasm:
"Bescheidenheit ist eine Zier, weiter kommt man ohne ihr!"
"Modesty is an adornment, farther you get by an announcement!"

However, this wasn't the attitude of gentle people in 1929.
 
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1. What did Einstein mean by "and z is keeping your mouth shut"?

Einstein meant that sometimes success involves not speaking or sharing one's ideas or thoughts with others. This can be because one wants to avoid criticism or because they want to focus on their work without distractions.

2. Why did Einstein emphasize the importance of keeping one's mouth shut in regards to success?

Einstein believed that keeping one's mouth shut can lead to greater success because it allows for more focus and less distraction. It also prevents others from potentially stealing or criticizing one's ideas before they are fully developed.

3. Is keeping your mouth shut always necessary for success?

No, keeping one's mouth shut is not always necessary for success. It may be beneficial in certain situations, but there are also times when sharing ideas and collaborating with others can lead to greater success. It is important to find a balance and know when to speak and when to listen.

4. How does keeping your mouth shut relate to being successful in the scientific field?

In the scientific field, keeping one's mouth shut can be important in order to avoid sharing incomplete or potentially incorrect ideas. It also allows for more focus on research and experimentation without the distractions of outside opinions. However, collaboration and communication with colleagues is also crucial for success in this field.

5. What other qualities besides keeping your mouth shut are important for success in science?

In addition to keeping one's mouth shut at times, qualities such as curiosity, perseverance, critical thinking, and open-mindedness are also important for success in science. Collaboration, communication, and a passion for learning are also essential qualities for success in this field.

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