25 Great Motivational Quotes You’ve Never Heard Of
Probably my most read post ever was the 20 Greatest Motivational Quotes of All Time.
So much so that I expanded the post and wrote a book with the 50 greatest quotes in that is now sent free to my new newsletter subscribers.
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As I was trawling some quotes the other day it struck me how many amazing ones there were that I’d never heard before and I thought it would be cool to collate the best for your perusal.
Now of course I realize that you may well have heard of one or two, but I genuinely hadn’t (except one), so please don’t give me a hard time or point out that you knew 18 out of 20 and thus I’m a philistine and deserve a damn good thrashing.
1. “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him” – David Brinkley
Too many people when coming under attack crumble when instead they could view that attack/criticism as a way to grow and mature and come back stronger. Brinkley nails this aspect.
2. “Defeat is not the worst of failures. Not to have tried is the true failure” – George Edward Woodberry
You know that, right? Trying and failing sucks, but never trying because you were scared of failure sucks about a gazillion times more. Don’t fear failure.
3. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool about it” – W. C. Fields
This may almost seem anti-motivational, but it really isn’t. Sometimes we have to accept that we are on the wrong path and no amount of forging forward will help. Sometimes we just have bad ideas that need dumping.
3b. “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts” – Arnold Bennett
Yes, yes and thrice I say yes. That’s why this blog was originally called The Discomfort Zone, because it’s almost impossible to change without going through some discomfort. Embrace change, embrace discomfort because if you don’t, you’re screwed.
4. “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude” – Maya Angelou
Sheer brilliance because when you think about it, those are the only two sensible options open to you. Sulking is not a sensible option.
5. “All men of action are dreamers” – James Huneker
I suspect things have changed somewhat these days, but this quote is aimed directly at parents and teachers who tell thier kids to stop day dreaming. Don’t! In fact encourage them to let their imaginations run wild.
6. “If we were to select the most intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and emotionally stable third of mankind, all races would be present” – Franz Boas
Amazing huh? I was under the impression from media and the like that there were entire countries of slack-jawed morons unable to tie their shoe laces without falling over. Nice to know that’s not the case.
7. “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are” – John Wooden.
I think this quote is more relevant now than it’s ever been with the explosion of Social Media. It seems to me that too many people spend too long, trying to live up to, or create a reputation, rather than being themselves.
8. “You grow up the day you have your first real laugh–at yourself ” — Ethel Barrymore
If you can’t laugh (without being snide) at yourself, then don’t laugh at others.
10. “There is nothing stronger in the world than gentleness” – Han Suyin
Reminds me somewhat of the Dalia Lama quote “Be kind whenever possible. It’s always possible” And guess what? It is, so be kind!
11. “Truth becomes untruth if uttered by your enemy” – George Orwell
One of my literary heroes and it perfectly sums up the us and them mentality that so many people adopt, especially cross-culturally. Listen with an open-mind.
12. “I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate” – George Burns
I was successful in sales and I pretty much hated it. Financially speaking I am nothing like as successful as a Life Coach, but I love it. George was right.
13. “Everyone who’s ever taken a shower has an idea. It’s the person who gets out of the shower, dries off and does something about it who makes a difference” – Nolan Bushnell
How cool is this? What did you do with your last great idea?
14. “The purpose of life is a life of purpose” – Robert Byrne
Dare I mention values? Yes I dare, and this quote is rooted in the importance of you knowing your own values and then acting on them.
15. “Unbeing dead isn’t being alive” – E. E. Cummings
I just had a flashback to Bauhaus singing Bela Lugosis’s dead, but maybe that’s just me. Existing is not the same as living and you were put here to live, not exist.
16. “Our entire life – consists ultimately in accepting ourselves as we are” – Jean Anouilh
Any other approach to life is going to fail. There is only one you and you have to accept yourself with all your human frailties if you want to be happy.
17. “No man is a failure who is enjoying life” -William Feather
I had to use this one seeing as my definition of success is somebody who is happy. What better yardstick can there be?
18. “A man who trusts nobody is apt to be the kind of man nobody trusts” – Harold MacMillan
I have had a few opportunities to become cynical with people and I refuse to accept them and so should you.
19. “I always trust my gut reaction; it’s always right” – Kiana Tom
Not sure if anybody can say their gut is always right, but I like the general idea and you’re gut is way smarter than you think.
20. “I believe fundamental honesty is the keystone of business” – Harvey S. Firestone
If only every business adopted that policy, how amazing would things be? Fortunately a few new companies are getting the idea that being honest and treating their customers with respect is actually good business as well as the right thing to do.
So what’s your favorite unknown quote? Let us know in the comments!
21. “I have to trust what I do and then do it” – Ednita Nazario
Yes! Even if you’re not sure what you’re doing, even if the plan is hazy, you can still trust yourself (and your intuition) and things will by and large turn out for the best.
22. “Don’t look any further than your own reflection for a hero” – Allyson Partridge
Tis true. You are the hero of your life’s story, so start acting like it!
My strength did not come from lifting weights. My strength came from lifting myself up when I was knocked down” – Bob Moore Weightlifting Champion
23. ” The ‘good life’ begins when you stop wanting a better one” – Nkosiphambili E. Molapis
I think it’s called being content with life.
24. “I am not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations, nor do l feel that the world must live up to mine” – Fritz Perl
Fritz was definitely a bit on the edge at times with his Gestalt Therapy, but he nails this one.
25. I will come again & conquer you because as a mountain you can’t grow, but as a human, I can”- Sir Edmund Hillary
Great quote from the first man to lead a team that conquered Everest. Of course he could have given up after the first attempt, but fortunately he didn’t and neither should you.
Image: Stockholm Public Library Courtesy of Samantha Marx