40 Inspirational Life Quotes for Motivation and Success
You probably already know that quiet meditation and collective thinking help to put your mind at peace. However, inspiration doesn’t exactly work in a vacuum, so having an external source can always boost your self-confidence.
That’s why we’ve gathered together several motivational quotes to help you get through those tough times. Even in moments of despair or failure, you can look to these fantastic inspirational quotes to keep you going for your goals. After all, they come from some of the greats who understand trials, tribulations, and triumphs!
1. “Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
Prime Minister of the U.K. during the Second World War, he was known for getting things done, no matter the cost. He’s considered one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century, serving as a champion for liberal democracy throughout Europe.
Carry this quote with you to remind yourself that even success means you can’t stop working. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, it’s essential that you keep moving forward towards and past your goal to new ones.
2. “It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” – Herman Melville
A novelist and short story writer, Melville is mostly known for writing “Moby Dick.” He drew much inspiration for his stories from being out at sea for five years, as well as experiencing the Polynesian culture. These also influenced his writing style, as he tended to take the perspective of an outsider.
Imitating another person’s ventures to feel successful isn’t true success at all; it’s merely a shadow of whatever has been copied. However, failure in originality shows you where your mistakes are so that they can be improved upon over and over again to obtain real success eventually.
3. “The road to success and the road to failure are almost exactly the same.” – Colin R. Davis
Davis is considered to be one of the most successful conductors in British history. Moreover, he didn’t get to that point by giving up when things got hard. It took him many years of perseverance to become a conductor for so many orchestras.
The point he’s trying to make with this quote is that you never know how your endeavors are going to end up. Taking the proper steps to meet your goal doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to win; you could still do everything right and again fail in the end.
4. “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
Thoreau was a poet and philosopher who is best known for his books “Walden” and “Civil Disobedience.” Respectively, they discuss the matters of simple living in natural surroundings, and the need to act disobediently in the face of an unjust state.
Going out and finding success shouldn’t be the primary goal of whatever task you’re taking on. Instead, it should be the prospect of completing the task that provides fulfillment; looking for success in everything you do is only going to lead to disappointment.
5. “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller
Dubbed the wealthiest person in modern history, Rockefeller knew how to take a dollar and turn it into two. He was a wealthy business mogul who had a big hand in the American oil industry. He started his illustrious career at the young age of 20, which only continued to blossom since then.
No one should ever settle for just the good or the mediocre. It can feel safe and comfortable, but if you find something greater, the risk of trying to attain may well be worth it. Even if you’re met with failure, you’ll learn something about yourself along the journey of aiming for the great.
6. “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson
The third president of the United States and dubbed one of the Founding Fathers, he was responsible for writing the Declaration of Independence. As a lawyer, he championed for the rights of slaves to have independence and freedom, which was considered a controversial opinion at the time.
Although most people think that success has to do with luck, that is farther from the truth. Success comes with the amount of effort you put in to attain success. It’s not just something that falls into your lap because you wish for it hard enough.
7. “There are two types of people who will tell you that you cannot make a difference in this world: those who are afraid to try and those who are afraid you will succeed.” – Ray Goforth
He’s been a member of Mensa since 2004 and has been a proponent for protecting the professional workers in American economies against outsourcing. He focuses on achieving solutions that are beneficial to both parties rather than creating a win-lose situation.
It’s true what they say, that you should never listen to naysayers who think you can’t do something. They either have nothing to gain from giving you such advice or are satisfied with not seeing you try at all.
8. “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” – Jim Rohn
An entrepreneur and motivational speaker, Rohn left college after his freshman year and jumped headfirst into working. He worked in direct sales and slowly built up his career. The majority of his motivational talks drew from his personal development and growth over the years.
Wishing that something was easier to achieve would mean that everyone would be able to achieve it. That’s what makes successful people stick out from the rest; they’re more willing to ensure the hardships to get to where they want to go.
9. “Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.” – Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein is one of the most popular physicists of the 20th Century. He developed the most famous equation “E=mc2” as a measurement of mass-energy equivalence. However, this equation never would have come to be if he hadn’t escaped from Nazi Germany as a refugee.
Although success can make your life feel worthwhile, it isn’t the only thing you should strive. Empty achievements don’t build you up as a person. Instead, focus on successes that improve yourself as a person.
10. “Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion.” – Tony Hsieh
Born to Taiwanese parents, Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, an online clothing and shoe company, and also co-founded LinkExchange, which he later sold to Microsoft. Although Zappos was eventually sold to Amazon, Hsieh continues to invest in business ideas and has demonstrated to the corporate world how Twitter can be used to develop connections between partners and customers.
If the only thing you attempted to achieve was a blind success through money in life, then there would be no feeling of satisfaction at the end. By going after your passions, however, you’ll reap more pleasure from your successes, giving you the drive to keep going.
11. “I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.” – G. K. Chesterton
Not many people have heard of Chesterton, but he considered to be one of the most prolific writers of the 20th Century. Although he never went to college, he did go to art school and wrote some critique pieces for a few magazines. It was there that he found his passion for writing and wrote many short stories throughout his life.
Taking the advice of other successful people may seem like the best way to find rewards, but it’s not necessarily true. By doing just the opposite and throwing caution to the wind, you may discover that your own methods of finding success works better than following the advice of someone else.
12. “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really: Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure, or you can learn from it, so go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.” – Thomas J. Watson
Watson was the chairman and CEO of IBM, developing a business model that focused on the punch-card system for sales. His first job was working as a teacher, which he quit after just one day and decided to take a course in business and accounting instead.
Also, it’s true what he says, that there is no real formula for success. It’s all about putting in the effort and working through your mistakes. It’s in the errors that you find your right path to success.
13. “All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” – Michael John Bobak
Not very much is known about this artist hailing from Philadelphia. In fact, there isn’t much known about him at all, except for the quote he’s become quite famous for. His artwork is a “smearing” of colors together to create a “dream-like” picture for the mind to toil over.
Anyone who stayed inside their comfort zone rarely ever found success. It’s only by stepping out of the box and taking on challenges you’re not used to taking that you’ll make any progress in life.
14. “People who succeed have momentum. The more they succeed, the more they want to succeed, and the more they find a way to succeed. Similarly, when someone is failing, the tendency is to get on a downward spiral that can even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.” – Tony Robbins
Robbins has a long career of being an author and philanthropist, helping many people get the motivation to turn their lives around. He left home when he was 17 years old due to abuse and never went to college. Instead, he worked as a janitor and promoting Jim Rohn’s seminars.
Getting that one spark of success can be enough to turn someone’s life around. It becomes a drug, where they want more and more success and wants to find new ways to achieve it. Similarly, one failure can develop a pessimistic attitude where you think that there’s no point in trying because you’ll always fail.
15. “Don’t let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.” – Robert Kiyosaki
He is the founder of the Rich Dad Company, which is an education company that helps people to learn personal finance and business to use in their everyday lives. He also created the Cashflow games that teach children and adults about business concepts.
Too many times, people have been afraid of failure to the point that they don’t bother trying. To be honest, it can be quite a terrible feeling, but by focusing on what it would feel like to succeed, it becomes easier to override that fear and focus on the goal instead.
16. “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.” – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs accomplished many things in his life, especially in the field of developing Apple products. He was also on the board of directors for Disney and Pixar and was the CEO of NeXT. He worked very hard to keep Apple from going bankrupt in the late 90s.
Most people believe that success is something that happens in the blink of an eye and requires little to no effort. However, those “overnight successes” were actually years in the making; people just weren’t looking closely enough to see the strides that were being made. Don’t think that all the rewards will fall into your lap the next day, as it does take time to see the rewards eventually.
17. “The real test is not whether you avoid this failure because you won’t. It’s whether you let it harden or shame you into inaction, or whether you learn from it; whether you choose to persevere.” – Barack Obama
As the first African American to be elected as president, Obama overcame much adversity as a black man. Within the first two years of office, he signed many bills such as the Job Creation Act 2012 and the Repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Act.
Avoiding failure isn’t something you can do easily; the only way to do that is to turn back and forget about your journey. Instead, you can accept the failure and let it shape you in one of two ways. You can choose to do nothing, or you can learn from the process to improve your methods in the future.
18. “The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
Roosevelt served as the 32nd president during World War II. Before he was elected, he dealt with a disease, believed to be polio, which paralyzed his legs, making it impossible for him to walk. However, he continued his presidency from his wheelchair, determined to see things through to the end.
Overthinking on the current doubts in your mind can paralyze you into inaction. Being forward-thinking can help you overcome these fears; that way, you can take the necessary steps to find success.
19. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” – Helen Keller
Keller was the first deaf-blind person ever to earn a Bachelor’s Degree. Her birthplace is now a museum, but she gained notoriety for her opinions on woman’s suffrage, socialism, and her anti-military ideas.
One’s character cannot be shaped in a vacuum. It is through hardships that you learn what you’re made of and what you can deal with in life. Difficult times can help you to sharpen your wit and your personality, and help you to find success on your own terms.
20. “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” – Walt Disney
Walt Disney has become a household name for even children in this current generation. He has the record for most Academy Awards earned by one person, and that’s mostly due to the developments he made in the film industry.
Many people talk about their plans for success but rarely do they do anything about it. Finding success is a product of action, not words. Otherwise, you’re just blowing hot air and not achieving anything.
21. “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” – Bruce Lee
Known as a martial artist, Lee was also quite an avid philosopher. He helped to change how Asians were depicted in American films, creating complex characters instead of adhering to caricatures.
Being able to achieve success often requires tunnel vision. You almost have to put everything else aside so that you can channel all of your energies towards your goal. That way, you’ll make fewer mistakes and take notice of what should be improved upon for the future.
22. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
Growing up in Harlem to Jamaican immigrants, he worked in a local baby furniture store and was a pretty average C student in school. He graduated from college with a BS in Geology and eventually served in the army for 35 years.
As was said earlier, there is no secret recipe for success. It does take much hard work to overcome speed bumps and hurdles that will be in your way. Achieving success is an uphill climb that not many people can endure, but by knowing that there will be difficulties ahead and visualizing where you might make mistakes can prepare you for even greater success.
23. “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton
Hilton attended military school at a young age where he eventually served for two years in the U.S. military. However, it was his upbringing in a Catholic family that shaped his outlook on life, as well as the influence of his sisters.
The path to success is inherently about moving forward, but even when met with problems or failure, those who are determined enough don’t let those hold them back. They turn those failures into learning opportunities that they work into their plans to make improvements.
24. “I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure–It is: Try to please everybody.” – Herbert Bayard Swope
An editor and journalist for the New York World, he received 3 Pulitzer Prizes for reporting. His work examined the structure of the German Empire at the time, and he coined the phrase “Cold War.”
The one real thing about success is that it’s about you and you alone. If you listened to the advice of everyone you knew and did what was necessary to please them, your focus would be split in a million different directions, ultimately leading to failure. Plus, it’s not their goal you’re trying to achieve, it’s your own.
25. “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
Schweitzer was known as a writer, humanitarian, philosopher, and physician, among other things. He received a Nobel Prize for his work “Reverence for Life,” which focused on finding a universal concept of ethics.
Aiming for a goal that isn’t linked to your passion isn’t going to feel very rewarding in the long run. Finding success that adds value to your life should be linked to something you’re passionate about. That way, your journey to success won’t feel as burdensome as if you were working on something you didn’t enjoy doing.
26. “A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks that others throw at him.” – David Brinkley
Brinkley was a newscaster for both NBC and ABC for almost 50 years, so that’s a lot of time spent behind the desk, talking about the news. He also became the White House correspondent and continued his work for various news segments over the years.
Getting critiques is one thing, but heading to success often comes with comments from those who mean to tear you down or don’t want you to succeed. You could internalize those comments and let them demoralize you from the inside out, or you can use them to pave your way to success and prove them wrong.
27. “In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can.” – Nikos Kazantzakis
Kazantzakis was a Greek writer who was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in nine different years. This timeline just goes to show how influential his work was over the decades. He faced much adversity for his work, and many countries wanted his books banned altogether.
Ninety percent of being successful is all about determination and the mental fortitude to see things through to the end. Telling yourself that you’re going to succeed will set the foundation for you to build your self-confidence on so that there’s no other way to go but up.
28. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
Edison is credited with many of the inventions in today’s society, despite the whispers that he never really developed these ideas himself. However, he was a shrewd businessman who knew how to market these inventions so that they could reach a wider audience of consumers.
The path to success is a challenging journey. It feels like you’re never going to get to the end, no matter what you do. This difficulty often leads to some people giving up in the end, not knowing that they were mere inches away from success. If they’d just gone a little further, all of their hard work would have paid off in the end.
29. “Don’t be distracted by criticism. Remember–the only taste of success some people get is to take a bite out of you.” – Zig Ziglar
Ziglar’s life started as being the 10th of 12 children, and when he was only six years old, his father and younger sister both died. That’s a lot for a young child to take in, but that didn’t stop him from finding his place in the realm of motivational speaking.
There’s a difference between constructive criticism and criticism to the point of tearing your work apart. It’s vital that you learn the difference so that you know what elements you should be working. The vindictive type of criticism serves no purpose other than to make the other person happy to see you prove them right.
30. “The secret of success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.” – John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
The son of the famous Rockefeller, he was slated to go to Yale University but was eventually steered into attending Brown University instead. Unlike the other rich sons attending college, he was actually quite scrupulous with his money. He was very charitable with his money and donated to birth control clinics and treating venereal diseases.
Many successful endeavors start as ordinary tasks that no one would blink at twice. It’s taking the mundane and turning it into the extraordinary that sets it apart from the rest. Thinking outside the box and taking risks that no one else has ever made before is one of the key reasons some people end up being more successful than others.
31. “You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job, and not be paid for it.” – Oprah Winfrey
Before Oprah became Oprah, she endured a difficult childhood that saw her pregnant at 14 and then being sent to live with her father. She gained a job at a radio station while she was still in high school and became a co-anchor on the local news at the young age of 19.
This timeline goes back to the statement of being passionate about your work. Doing something just for money is fine and dandy since it pays the bills; however, if you would still do the same role without money, then that’s something to be happy about in life. That joy that you feel will make you try even harder to be better in the future so that you can be even more successful.
32. “The secret to success is to know something nobody else knows.” – Aristotle Onassis
Onassis had the largest privately-owned shipping fleet in the world, which made him one of the richest men in the world too. As a child, he and his family fled Greece during the Greco-Turkey War and moved to Argentina, where he worked as a tobacco trader.
It’s finding that niche that no one else has found yet that makes one person stick out from the rest. Having a careful eye for detail and finding ways to improve upon what already exists is the foundation for most successes in the world.
33. “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estee Lauder
Lauder was the only woman in Time magazine’s list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th Century in their 1998 issue. She developed her own cosmetics line with her husband, after working for her uncle, who was a chemist and developed creams that were very beneficial for the skin.
As we said before, success is about taking action, not just talking or dreaming about it. It can be a good start, mentally, to imagine yourself at your end goal, but if you don’t do anything about it, it’s just wasted energy. You’ll get nowhere with just dreams.
34. “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon
Vidal’s life started in extreme poverty, where the first seven years of his life were spent in an orphanage. At 14, he quit school and worked several jobs until his mother encouraged him to be an apprentice hairdresser. The rest was history.
Real success comes from years of hard work; it’s not something that’s going to be dropped into your lap. Though there are those who are born with silver spoons in their mouths, inheriting what their parents created is not a genuine success. It’s putting yourself at the risk of failure that develops your character and strengthens your mettle.
35. “Keep on going, and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I never heard of anyone ever stumbling on something sitting down.” – Charles F. Kettering
Kettering was an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents, which is definitely not something to laugh at. He was the head of research for General Motors and worked with DuPont to develop the Freon refrigerant.
Exploration, in terms of both the self and the goal you’re trying to achieve, broaden your horizons and allows you to think outside the box. Being active in your pursuit makes it easier for you to take notice of what’s out there and how you can make improvements. Sitting down and doing nothing, however, is excellent for a sore back, but it’s not going to help you become successful.
36. “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” – James Cameron
Cameron has found much success after directing and writing “The Terminator” film, as well as directing “Aliens.” He enrolled in a two-year college to study physics but then switched to English before dropping out before the start of the second fall semester. That didn’t stop him from finding his passions in films, however.
People have often said that you should never set your goal too high because that makes it unattainable — you’re already setting yourself up for failure. However, there’s nothing wrong with trying to achieve the seemingly impossible because even if you do fail, you’ve attempted something that no one else has and that’s enough to warrant attention for your efforts.
37. “Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” – John Wooden
Wooden went from being a basketball player to eventually coaching his own team at UCLA. He ended up winning 10 NCAA championships in a period of 12 years, which is definitely impressive, to say the least.
Looking at your failures is not only a learning experience, but they also allow you to turn them into something else. Failures can show you the error of your ways so that you can pick up where you left off and try again. It’s about being positive about everything, even when things don’t go your way so that you can cross that finish line in the end.
38. “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life–think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.” – Swami Vivekananda
Vivekananda was an Indian Hindu monk who was a crucial figure in the introduction of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world. He brought Hinduism to the forefront as a dominant world religion, encouraging its revival in India, during a time when it was being colonized by the British.
In order to be successful, you have to dedicate your body and mind to a single goal. It has to become second nature to your existence. Otherwise, there’s no point. It has to be something that you genuinely want before your life is over, and that means preparing your body, both physically and mentally, for the long road ahead.
39. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
A diplomat and an activist, Roosevelt held very controversial opinions at the time when it came to the treatment of African Americans. While serving as the First Lady, she managed to have press conferences regularly, write a monthly magazine column as well as a daily newspaper column, and host a weekly radio show. There was no slowing her down.
There will always be people telling you not to do something or trying to tear down your efforts. So it is entirely your choice to accept those words into your life and internalize them. However, you can also choose to reject them and stand up for what you believe in so that you can rise above those criticisms and make it to the goal post despite what they say.
40. “Our greatest fear should not be of failure … but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan
Chan and his wife founded the Cornerstone Community Church, which started with just 30 people. Soon, those numbers blossomed into a congregation of about 1,600. He eventually resigned from the church and moved to California to start the Eternity Bible College. His faith was shaped during his childhood years after several deaths in his family, including his mother, father, and stepmother, all before he was 13 years old.
Small successes are great at starting that snowball reaction of building to more significant achievements. However, what’s the point in progress if you’ve excelled at something that doesn’t matter? That isn’t to say you have to measure yours against the more prominent successes of others. Instead, it should be an internalized examination of what is really important to you so that you know your efforts aren’t for nothing.