Many inspirational quotes are direct and self-explanatory. When we hear Babe Ruth’s famous words, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run,” the message is clear — enduring failure is part of being successful. Then there are those inspirational and motivational quotes that are a little more nuanced, the kind of words that might make you scratch your head for a second as you ponder the deeper meaning. Here are a few gems of that nature.
10. “If you’re going through Hell, keep going.”
– Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill became prime minister of the United Kingdom in 1940, just as the Nazi war machine threatened to overrun Great Britain early in World War II. One of Churchill’s first speeches in office included the above quote, along with other classics such as, “Never, never, never give up.”
9. “Borders? I have never seen one. But I have heard they exist in the minds of some people.”
– Thor Heyerdahl
Heyerdahl, a Norwegian adventurer, earned fame in 1947 when he sailed 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean in a primitive raft. His mission proved that ancient cultures could have made similar voyages of discovery. His quote is so nuanced (Is it about venturing into new territory? Fear of the unknown?) that we’ll leave it to you to parse the meaning.
8. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.”
– Henry Ford
The man who revolutionized American industry with his introduction of the assembly line had many inspirational thoughts and adages. Among Ford’s other notable words: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
7. “A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.”
– John A. Shedd
This adage, popularized by U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper, implores people to get out and take risks.
6. “It’s always too early to quit.”
– Norman Vincent Peale
The famous motivational writer and speaker inspired millions around the world with his belief in positive thinking. Many criticized his best-known book, The Power of Positive Thinking, for being too simplistic, with too many unaccountable anecdotes, but it’s hard to argue with the sentiment in the above quote.
5. “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”
– Allen Saunders
How often do we spend years working toward a goal, and not appreciate the everyday little joys and precious moments that pass unnoticed as we eye the big picture? John Lennon popularized this quote in the song Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) on his 1980 release Double Fantasy.
4. “The most effective way to do it, is to do it.”
– Amelia Earhart
Are you waiting to make a comprehensive plan before you launch that business you’ve dreamed about — and you’ve been working on that plan for several years now? The message here is to just do something. Planning only takes you so far — take action to make your dreams come true.
3. “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”
– Elbert Hubbard
The quote may seem harsh, but the message is clear — you can take the easy road and avoid failing, or doing anything wrong. Or you can sit back, and in the words of Hubbard, “be nothing.” Ouch. Hubbard was an American writer and philosopher killed when when a German U-boat sank the RMS Lusitania in 1915.
2. “Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
– Farrah Gray
Translation: Set goals and pursue them, and be a leader, not a follower. Gray, an author and businessman, has written several motivational and self-help books in recent years.
1. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.”
Thinking of a career change to pursue your childhood dreams at age 55? This is the quote for you. It is often attributed to Victorian novelist Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the pen name George Eliot.