Motivational sayings are a great little lessons from the great and the successful that we can learn from in order to achieve more in our own lives. They can motivate, inspire and enlighten, and if we take on board their meaning we can be the next great people to make such a difference that others heed our words.
Below are ten of the very best motivational sayings that can help pick you up when the chips are down or that can help guide you in the right direction, each with a little description to help you grasp the full meaning of the message. By heeding these ten quotes, the collected wisdom of some of the greatest men and women in History, you might just get an action plan to take you wherever you want to go, or some motivation to kick start you into working towards that goal.
1. If you love life, do not waste time, for time is what life is made up of. – Bruce Lee
Not many people realise that Bruce Lee was a philosopher as well as a martial artist and film star, but in fact he was a very intelligent man who majored in philosophy and read deeply on the subjects. As such he has many great quotes and thoughts, all of which you can find collected in the book ‘Striking Thoughts’ which is a pocket sized book of Bruce Lee’s most inspirational sayings. At the heart of his philosophy lies the importance of being true to yourself, living in the moment, embracing emotion and expressing yourself – something which reflects itself in his ‘no nonsense’, free form martial arts style Jeet Kune Do. This means both going against convention and ignoring tradition where necessary, but also embracing the now and living for the moment. This quote expresses more of that latter view and also shows the importance of living life to the fullest. Bruce was wise for valuing time as he did, as sadly it transpired that he had less than most of us.
2. If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril. – Sun Tzu
This saying is not inspirational in the motivational sense, but in that it can inspire you to find a solution to your problems. Knowing yourself is incredibly important in all walks of life – you need to know your limitations so that you can improve yourself and so that you do not bite off more than you can chew, and you need to know your strengths so that you can utilise them. This quote comes from The Art of War, Sun Tsu definitive guide to warfare that today is taken non literally to advise on all topics from love, to sport, to business. Knowing your ‘enemy’ is important in all these fields if you are to succeed. You need to research the market, research the opponent, research the target and this way you will have information on your side. Remember: knowledge is power.
3. He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life. – Muhammad Ali
It is human nature to enjoy the creature comforts in life and to be comforted by stability. As such very few of us are willing to take risks and so are happy to settle for situations that are just ‘okay’. Why settle for ‘okay’ when you could have fantastic? Fear is no excuse.
4. Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. – Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger might not strike you as a typical sage, or as someone whose name should go alongside presidents and philosophers, however if you consider everything that Arnold has achieved in his life – in business, in sports, in politics and in media then you realise that this is one of the most successful men of our life time. It is thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger that there are now gyms all over the world after he single-handedly raised the profile of bodybuilding, he was a millionaire from his business ventures before he ever went into acting, he was the highest paid actor of his era despite a thick Austrian accent, and against insurmountable odds he was a successful Governor of one of the most powerful States in the world for two years. This quote demonstrates the kind of hardiness you need to achieve that kind of success. A willingness to learn, strength of character and a complete lack of fear for failure.
5. Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. – Lance Armstrong
Lance Armstrong is another great athlete who achieved incredible things despite great odds and even serious illness and as such is an inspiration to many. Here he describes the importance of putting up with temporary pain or discomfort in order to reap the rewards later. Keep your eye on the prize and grin and bear the training until then.
6. I am the greatest, I said that even before I knew I was. – Muhammad Ali
Muhammad Ali again, this time with a quote that most successful people have mirrored at one time or another in a way. The quote itself is hardly eloquent or inspiring but the attitude behind it is – simply the lack of modesty that holds so many people back and the endless self belief. This then becomes a self fulfilling prophecy as you and the world around you starts changing to make way for your goals and ambitions. In short, in order to be successful you must believe you are going to be, no matter how cheesy that might sound. This can be explained by one more quote from Bruce Lee: ‘As you think, so shall you become’.
7. We choose to go to the moon... we choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too. – President Pitzer
Here President Pitzer explains the importance of challenge and competition; because we thrive on it, because it forces us to develop and learn and because it leads to great achievements and success. Without challenge we would never have been to the moon, invented the light bulb, made any of the great films or books, or progressed at all as a race.
8. Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things. – Winston Churchill
Here history’s favourite Prime Minister shows us the importance of accepting and learning from criticism as well as the importance of admitting your mistakes. If you do not learn from mistakes, criticisms and problems then you can never expect to evolve or improve.
9. I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more luck I have. – Thomas Jefferson
Here the great inventor explains the importance of accountability and an internal locus of control. Those who look to a higher power, fate or luck from guidance are never going to be as successful as those who make things happen for themselves. Do not wait, do.
10. If an elderly but distinguished scientist says that something is possible, he is almost certainly right; but if he says that it is impossible, he is very probably wrong. – Arthur C Clarke
This quote, from the intelligent and witty Arthur C Clarke demonstrates how nothing is possible – not only in an optimistic sense, but also scientifically, where theories are disproven with every new discovery and each finding reveals the universe to be far larger and stranger than we imagined.
So there you have it, 10 inspirational quotes that can help you find your motivation. There is definitely recurring themes – believe in yourself, anything’s possible.