Inspirational quotes are the oxygen that has breathed fresh invigoration into my life throughout the years. When facing personal challenges, a quote has often popped into my head and inspired me to press on. When I’ve needed to encourage someone else, often a quote will raise its head up and I find myself sharing it with them.
Quotes appear on Twitter with a vengeance, and are often the most liked and shared expressions found on a range of social media.
People love quotes. Why? They inspire. They motivate. They ignite. They put the gas in our empty tank.
Because they are bite-sized, they are easily digestible, and of course the greatest value is that they are memorable.
So allow me to share with you, in my opinion, the 8 most inspirational quotes ever uttered.
1. ‘Insist On Yourself: Never Imitate.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I came to know Ralph Waldo Emerson through his writings many years ago. As I sought to make a living from writing I made it my habit to go to my local university library to study. I was not a student of that university. I was a student of a much larger institution called ‘The University of Success.’ And in my pursuit for mentors I stumbled through the never-ending aisles of this local university library and finally, in the depths of that building – the basement – I found ‘liquid gold’. That is the term I used to describe the writings of Emerson. His language was dated, having been written in the late 1800’s, but from time to time his words would pierce my heart with such a powerful impact that I would begin to cry. I was a man desperate to discover his own voice, and to unveil his destiny, and when I was challenged to ‘Insist on Yourself: Never Imitate’, I was encouraged in my pursuit of uniquity, and those words have sustained me even to this day.
2. ‘What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.’ Napoleon Hill
The very first time I read Napoleon Hill’s masterpiece ‘Think & Grow Rich’, I failed to understand a lot of what he wrote. But throughout the book certain phrases ignited a spark within me. At the time I was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked self-confidence and self belief. But with each word that I read it was as if steel pylons were being forged into my being, gradually strengthening my resolve to believe that my dreams and hopes were possible. And now as I read his book again, many years later, it is as if I’m looking back from a long distance – for I have come much further along success road, and am moving ever closer towards my dream’s fulfilment, filled with a great understanding of what it takes to succeed.
3. ‘Change your thoughts and you change your world.’ Norman Vincent Peale
The greatest challenge I have had to work on in my life has been to take charge of my thought life. A battle has waged constantly for years between the negative and positive sides of my brain. But with consistent study, practice, and effort, I am pleased to report that the positive has won the vast majority of conflicts. But you can never relax in this area if you want to change your world. Thoughts must be ruled with a rod of iron, and trained with positive words flowing from our mouth.
4. ‘Tough times never last, but tough people do.’ Robert H. Schuller
Thank God for the truth of this statement. I’ve been made tougher by the tough times I have faced, because I chose to be tough. There were many times when I felt like lying down and dying, but something inside me would consistently rise up from within urging me to get up and go again. The famous words, ‘Quitters never win and winners never quit’ constantly haunted me whenever I wanted to attend my own personal pity party. That’s when I decided once again to tough it out and toughen up, because that’s just what tough people do.
5. ‘The three things that are most essential to achievement are common sense, hard work and stick-to-it-iv-ness.’ Thomas Edison
Commonsense is not common. And yet how important is it if we are to ever succeed. I make rules. I break rules. And I usually break rules because commonsense prevails. Things change. Situations change. Relationships change, and so flexibility is required to deal with an ever-changing world. That’s where commonsense kicks in.
Hard work never killed anybody. The more I love my work, the harder I work. Alongside that, the smarter I work. I realize that I can’t do it all alone, and that’s why I surround myself with people smarter than myself. I delegate my weaknesses and focus on my strengths. And in my strong areas is where I work the hardest to achieve the greatest results.
Stick-to-it-iv-ness is another word for persistent focus. It is always hard before it is easy. There is always resistance before breakthrough. There is always investment before there is profit. There is always give before there is get. So persist, persist, persist until resist, resist, resist gives up, packs its bag and leaves town.
6. ‘Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.’ Mark Twain
Forgiveness is liberating for all parties – the forgiver and the forgivee. When the harmed chooses to lay down their arms and extend the heart of forgiveness to the harmer, it’s as if an invisible chain falls off and crashes to the ground. Blood pressure lowers. Stress disappears. Peace reigns. Clarity is acquired. And as Mark Twain so eloquently shares, ‘the fragrance’ permeates the atmosphere that a minute ago was filled with the vile odor of death and destruction.
7. ‘Well done is better than well said.’ Benjamin Franklin
Don’t tell me what you can do – go do. Talk is cheap. Many a man, throughout my life, has promised or said that they would do – but only a few have done what they said that they would do. I honour those who did, for they have revealed that their word was their honour. Actions speak louder than words. Deeds shout above the clamour of syllables. Do what you say. Say what you do. You will stand heads and shoulders above the crowd if you do, and do it well.
8. ‘The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.’ Vince Lombardi
I mowed lawns to earn income from the age of twelve until I was twenty-five years of age. That’s a lot of lawns mowed. So the older I get the less I want to mow my own lawns. So for years now I have had others mow for me. The defining difference between those who I have paid to do this service for me has been the level of excellence expressed in their mower-ship. And let me tell you that the variations in excellence have been alarming. One would cut the grass and trim the edges and hedges with an eye for detail, while others failed to finish off anything. For no matter how well a lawn is mowed, if you don’t trim the edges correctly or sweep up after the event – no matter how mowed the rest of the lawn is – the job lacks a representation of the spirit of excellence. It doesn’t take long for me to define the quality of that ‘mower man’s’ life.
Another guide is to observe the state of the inside of someone’s car, and even the state of the shoes that they wear upon their feet. Lawns, car interiors and shoes tell you a lot about the quality of a person’s life. My experience has been that if you take care of the small details – when it comes to excellence – the bigger details will take care of themselves.