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Hit The Ground Running

The Quotes That Motivate The Most Successful People

Some of the most successful people share the words of wisdom that drive them.

The Quotes That Motivate The Most Successful People
[Photo: Flickr user Amber DeGrace]

It might be something you have hanging on the wall of your office or just on a Post-It next to your computer. It’s that go-to motivational quote—a touchstone that gets you fired up when you’re having a bad day or just need a little boost. Here are the quotes that fire up some accomplished leaders and why these words resonate with them.


"Stay hungry. Stay foolish." — Steve Jobs

I think of this quote so often. In business and in life, you are never done! The adventure is what makes it that much more interesting. The twists, turns, curiosity, foolishness are what leads to the discoveries that change our world for the better. — Kara Goldin, Founder and CEO, Hint water

"To whom much is given, much is required." — Luke 12:48

Photo: via Girlscouts

This paraphrased Bible quote was my grandmother's lifelong mantra. It reminds me every day of the importance of service to others. It inspired my entry into public service, and keeps me focused on fulfilling the Girl Scout mission of serving today's girls, and helping them develop into tomorrow's leaders. — Anna Maria Chávez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA

"If something is worth doing, then it’s worth doing well." — Lord Chesterfield

My paternal grandfather, who was one of the wisest people I've ever known, had that particular philosophy, which he passed on to me. That has stayed with me throughout my personal and professional life because it drives me to a belief that we all need to be the best that we can be. And in that endeavor, good is the enemy of great. Why settle for "good," when "great" is within reach for the price of additional effort and attention to detail?

Be demanding and set high standards. Do not be risk averse, because you will never have perfect information. Speed of execution is as important as quality of execution, and even failure can be a learning experience. — Johan de Nysschen, President, Cadillac and General Motors executive vice president

"Oh my God, what if you wake up some day, and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's going to break your heart. Don't let this happen." — Anne Lamott

Photo: via Wikimedia Commons

That whole quote reminds us that our psychological baggage is just that, in our heads, not everyone else's. And to let fear of public opinion or the pain of self-loathing stop us from being our authentic brave selves, capable of experiencing joy and love is to miss the value of life itself! — Stacy London, Style expert, host of TLC's Love Lust or Run, and author of The Truth about Style

"Find a way or make one." — Hannibal

This was one of the leadership values my team and I created about two and a half years ago. It’s inspired by Hannibal, who won a war with just a few men on horses against a huge army, with everything going against him. It’s one of the best statements that truly sums up how I’ve lived my life from childhood until now. I’ve always found a way to make things happen.

If someone says, ‘No, we can’t do that,’ it’s just about the best thing you can say to me to motivate me to make it happen. What I’ve learned throughout my career is that there are so many people who immediately respond with reasons why something can’t get done rather than to make it happen. I’ve chosen a completely different point of view. — Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President and CEO, Celebrity Cruises

"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead." — Charles Bukowski

Photo: via Charles Smith

You must be willing to love so much to get your heart broken, be the underdog in a fight to get a fat lip, and in life, willing to go over the edge. The ones that play it safe, in life or in business, will rarely see the other side. What truly horrible lives they must lead.—Charles Smith, President, Charles Smith Wines and Wine Enthusiast’s 2014 "Winemaker of the Year"


"I did then what I knew how to do and when I knew better, I did better." — Maya Angelou

The reason this Maya Angelou quote has always resonated with me is two-fold: First, it's about doing the best you can, putting forth your best effort, and using what's available to get the job done. And, importantly, it's also about not only recognizing and knowing that you're not perfect but about embracing that imperfection with a growth-minded attitude.

In my life, be it personal, professional or, most significantly in my role as a mother, I regularly think of this quote and the wisdom it imparts. Do your best, forgive the failures and try again. —Meg Roberts, President, Molly Maid

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