Last week, at Thanksgiving dinner with my family, someone brought up Robin Hood movies and specifically the Costner version. One of my brothers quoted the cousin of the sheriff, who, after the sheriff threatened to gut a foe with a spoon, was asked by his henchman“Why a spoon, cousin?” I quickly responded, “Because it’ll hurt more, you twit!” Everyone at the table chuckled and talk tangented to Mel Brooks’ comedy “Robin Hood: Men In Tights.”
The reason that I bring up this incident, is to highlight that quotes add spice to conversations – they make us laugh, make us yearn, and make us think. These quotes are often concise, and their specific word order often has us wishing that we had been the ones to come up with the saying. They can be great fun to share with others, but there is a subset of quotes that I am particularly grateful for. These are inspirational quotes, which I take to mean quotes that stir the heart and make me want to act, to be better, and to propel me to action.
For this post, I am going to share five such quotes and why I am grateful for them.
- “Perfect is the enemy of done.”
I was attending an ESL (English as a Second Language) conference and the keynote speaker shared this quote and I wrote it down immediately. I have often been a victim of seeking perfection in my writing, abandoning projects because I felt that they weren’t good enough or editing them into oblivion, trying to get the words perfect. It made me realize that it is more important to get the writing done and out than to find the absolutely best way to share an idea. At the same time, I want to make sure that what I am putting forth is an excellent representation of what I am capable of – not use this as an excuse to slap something together and call it good.
Another way that this quote has helped me is that it is a reminder not to let my fears take over. Sometimes I procrastinate a task because I’m afraid that it will flop and I will have wasted my effort. This quote reinforces that it’s okay to make mistakes and write horrible drafts and even embarrass myself in front of others. The important thing is learning from those attempts and progressing in my ability and my skill. As long as I am not treading water in whatever activity I am engaged in, then I am fine with that.
- “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit down for a month” – Theodore Roosevelt
I am a fan of the quote collection site www.brainyquote.com and in preparation for this post, I scrolled through all of my collected quotes and laughed out loud when I came across this one. The laughter was bittersweet as the humor came with the knowledge of the truth of this statement. It is easy to place the blame on others for my misfortunes, rather than on myself. Part of the problem lies in this current culture of victimhood, where it is always someone else’s fault for what is going on in my life. While it is true that no every obstacle is due to my own thoughts and behaviors, refusing to analyze what part I play in these issues is unwise. Any growth in my life depends on knowing where I am at now so that I can figure out how to move on to the next level.
Similarly, if I don’t take responsibility for my actions, then I cannot develop as a person. Personal development depends on a core belief that I am in charge of the changes in my life. By playing the victim, I am waiving any ownership of the negative events in my life. Once this becomes part of my identity, then I have no need to improve because I am perfect just the way that I am. It is others that are the source of my problems, so they are the ones that must change – not I.
- “The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty.” – Zig Zigler
I am grateful for this quote for a couple of reasons. First, the metaphor is apt and visual. My understanding is that when they lay the foundation of a building, they set the corner stones and these stones set the stability of the entire structure. Second, the qualities that Zig mentions are virtues of the heart that I need in order to have a fulfilled life. These virtues are interconnected with each other as well. For example, honesty sets the baseline – where I am now and where I need to go – and being honest with others allows me to develop integrity. As I develop my integrity, others know me as a person whom they can trust and will keep any promises that I make to them. That is the hallmark of character, which incidentally reinforces self-esteem, and blossoms into greater appreciation for myself and others.
Appreciation is a lesser form of love, providing warmth but not a wealth of passion. It is a state of static emotion. For love to take hold, I must take action. The old saying that love is a verb is true and I believe it. It’s a funny thing, but from my experience, I increase in my love for others when I serve without a hope for compensation. It’s not easy to do, especially if I have no real feelings for the person at the outset, but it is worth it.
- “Some people dream of success, while other people get up every morning and make it happen.”
– Wayne Huizenga
I am grateful for this quote because it reminds me that decisions are thoughts put into action. Most people have aspirations , but unless they get out of their chairs and do, the thoughts remain in the ether of our minds and nothing more. Another aspect of the quote that touches me is the deliberate use of the word ‘morning.’ I have found that the vast majority of successful people get up early, usually by five o’clock. They have regular routines, such as drinking a liter of water as soon as they get up, meditation, reciting passages that have great personal meaning, exercise, and so forth. They keep their electronic devices on airplane mode for the first hour of their day. Only after they have secured the foundation of their daily success, do they take on the world.
The final part that grabs me is that Wayne talks about making success happen. Those that achieve are distinctly aware of what success means for them – and they take action to make it a reality. Too often, I delay putting my goals into action. Each minute passes by this way but once and ill-used moments waste away my potential for greatness.
- “Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.” – Alfred A Montepert
To me, this is a mindset motivator. When I wake in the morning, I am hungry – sometimes ravenously so. That gives this quote extra meaning for me as it indicates that problems must be handled with gusto and erased from my agenda. Taking a timid approach to problem solving leads to weak sauce solutions. Band-aids. Problems are going to crop up. No matter how successful a person may become, no matter how much cash is in the bank, they are inescapable. As I see it, the key is to expect issues and stumbling blocks – that way I can prepare for them. When I see these challenges as part of the journey, I can eat them eagerly and with excitement. Overcoming these obstacles lead to greater strength, giving me the ability to handle the ups and downs with equal equanimity.