I love quotations. In fact, I enjoy them so much that I have collected many of them through the years.

My fascination with quotes began in my late teens when I read several self-help books to counter the negative environment in which I was raised. I intentionally selected phrases from books by James Allen, Zig Ziglar, Norman Vincent Peale and others. I put the quotations on index cards and referred to them several times each week.

Here are a few of my favorites from James Allen from his classic book, As a Man Thinketh:

  • A person is limited only by the thoughts that he chooses.
  • The outer conditions of a person’s life will always be found to be harmoniously related to his inner state…Men do not attract that which they want, but that which they are.
  • As a man thinketh in his heart, so shall he be.
  • All that a man achieves and all that he fails to achieve is the direct result of his own thoughts.

I had the great privilege of hearing Zig Ziglar speak in the 1970s. He wrote several inspiring books, but he is also one of the speakers who inspired me to become a public speaker. Here are several gems from Ziglar:

  • What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.
  • The foundation stones for a balanced success are honesty, character, integrity, faith, love, and loyalty.
  • You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.

Finally, quotes from Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the first few books I read about success:

  • It’s always too early to quit.
  • If you put off everything till you’re sure of it, you’ll never get anything done.
  • Don’t take tomorrow to bed with you.
  • Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

My collection of quotes spans many subjects. I have also created several of my own through the years. I find that easy-to-remember phrases can be helpful in day-to-day life. Whether inspirational or practical, quotations have become a helpful tool for me.

Here are some of my favorites from the practical list:

Regarding decisions, “Make every decision in its time, and sleep on it if you can.” Looking back, I have learned that when I rush a decision, I often realize later that I have made the wrong choice. I believe that effective decisions are made because of a good process. Being deliberate in decision making is a good thing but don’t forget, “Not to decide is to decide.”

I have always been frustrated that our educational system – as well as much of the feedback we get in our childhood – focuses on the mistakes that we make. When I was a Teaching Assistant while in graduate school, I made it a point when grading tests and quizzes to note at the top of the page how many answers were correct, not how many were wrong.

The obsession that our society has with pointing out people’s mistakes means that we develop an aversion to making mistakes. Unfortunately, this causes us to be afraid of trying new things. Most books on success point out the need to attempt new things and learn from them. My take on this is, “Make the same mistake once, and learn from each one.”

I recently heard that the true measure of someone’s life is how they are remembered. What impact did your life have on the world around you? Will you be remembered because you died with a large bank account? Or with the most toys?

Those who lead great lives will be remembered for the impact they had on the lives of the people around them. Their true accomplishments will likely have come with a significant personal cost. After they are gone, people will recall what they did to help others. “Greatness is not something you are born with, it is achieved by serving others.”

I am not by nature a disciplined person. I must really work hard to stay organized and focused. It is with great effort that I make lists and get the things done that I need to do each day. I am not sure if I found this quote or made it up, but it is posted on my desk. “Discipline…do what needs to be done when it needs to be done and as well as it can be done ….and do it that way every time.”

Our lives have phases. The challenge – in the heat of living – is to understand when it is time for one phase to end and another to begin. By nature, most of us fear change. We tend to try to continue to do what is comfortable long after it is time to move on to something new. I think we fear change because we fear the end of something that has been good. But before we can move on, remember, “Each time something ends, make it the beginning of something new.”

There may be more famous quotations about leadership than on any other topic. Perhaps my favorite is “Leadership is getting ordinary people to do extraordinary things.”

However, I am always amazed at how many people who want to be leaders do not understand the need to get involved with people on a personal basis.

Ronald Reagan was not a great leader just because he gave great speeches. The power of his leadership was the fact that he had a wonderful way of dealing with people one-on-one. I have heard it shared many times by those who knew him that he had the ability to make whoever he was talking to feel as though they were the only person that mattered.

This ability to relate with each person he met on a personal basis was the key to his leaderships. He led masses because he led individuals. He understood that “Leadership is a contact sport.”

I hope this article is helpful to you. Feel free to write a few of the quotations down or put them on your screen saver. I hope they will inspire you to become better each day.
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