In a town local to me, work has just finished on a public space in front of a large new commercial and residential development.  It looks much nicer than the car park that was there previously and as I walked across it recently I realised that the footpaths are filled with motivational sayings – you know the sort, ‘Reach for the Moon and if you fail you’ll end up amongst the stars!’ and that kind of thing. I appreciate the sentiment (but not the spelling and grammatical errors that the footpath proof-reader clearly overlooked), but I don’t think it had the desired effect on me; I didn’t feel motivated or challenged by the words – indeed, I feel as though I’m constantly bombarded in my personal and professional life by vacuous motivational or inspirational sayings that realistically aren’t going to provide any value in my personal and professional development.

As a result, I purposefully went on a search for some advice that I think is valuable, and came across a couple of gems from Thomas Edison (he of incandescent lightbulb fame – though he acquired 1093 other patents too):

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-it-iveness; third, common sense”

From my first-hand experience, running a successful business cannot be directly attributed to fairy dust and positive vibes (though I’m sure they do help).  Making mistakes and, more importantly, recognising them and learning from them is a huge part of professional growth.  As is the ability to stick with something even when things aren’t necessarily going to plan.

But do motivational quotes really work? According to an article by Gwen Moran for Fast Company (source:, they do!

“Humans are aspirational. We want to look up to role models and leaders and follow what they ask…Leaders and their words– inspirational quotes– affect us on a primal level.” Scott Sobel, Founder of Media and Communications Strategies, Inc., Washington DC.

Do you have any inspirational quotes or motivational sayings that particularly resonate with you? I’d love to hear your thoughts (and recommendations!).

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