Classic Motivational Quotes

I was once asked if I had any classic quotes, positive quotes, inspirational quotes... motivational quotes...

...but I didn't, so given I like to focus on being positive, I started collecting.

These inspirational quotes currently flow in an order of sorts, from initial positive quotes and quotes on positive thinking, through thoughts, imagination, opportunity, vision and goal setting, through motivational quotes on initial action and getting started, then persistence and inspirational quotes on belief, money, and finally, life balance.

Life has no limitations, except the ones you make.

- Les Brown

Once you choose hope, anything's possible.

- Christopher Reeve


If you think you are beaten, you are
If you think you dare not, you don't,
If you like to win, but you think you can't
It is almost certain you won't.

If you think you'll lose, you're lost
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with a fellow's will
It's all in the state of mind.

If you think you are outclassed, you are
You've got to think high to rise,
You've got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.

Life's battles don't always go
To the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late the man who wins

- Walter D. Wintle - 1905

Remember:  Success is nothing but luck. Just ask any failure.

- Anon


Words and actions are the factions
that make or break our day.
And thoughts are the things
from whence they all spring.

To be the best we can possibly be,
to grow, and learn in every adversity,
and not lose the success that's ours to be
requires control of our thoughts explicitly.

Never doubt the possibilities to be,
and obstacles will never become a reality.
We create our own success you see
but only with a positive mentality.

- Anon

Whether you think you can or can't, you're right.

- Henry Ford

If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.

- Thomas Edison

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

- Edgar Albert Guest - 1881-1959

I start where the last man left off.

- Thomas Edison

What ever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

- Napoleon Hill

We become what we think about.

- Earl Nightingale

Imagination rules the world.

- Napoleon Bonaparte

To have a great idea, have a lot of them.

- Thomas Edison

The only truly happy people are children and the creative minority.

- Jean Caldwell

An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it.

- Bill Bernbach

There's a way to do it better - find it.

- Thomas Edison

I must create a system or be enslaved by another man's. I will not reason and compare; My business is to create.

- William Blake

Anything that won't sell, I don't want to invent. Its sale is proof of utility, and utility is success.

- Thomas Edison

There is nothing so wasteful as doing with great efficiency that which doesn't have to be done at all.

- Anon

An obstacle is often a stepping stone.

- Prescott

Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.

- Thomas Edison

Replace the word "problem" with the word "opportunity" in all your thoughts.

- Matthew Keith Groves

No great man ever complains of want of opportunities.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Three things that never come back: the spent arrow; the spoken word; the lost opportunity.

- W.G.P.

If you learn only methods, you'll be tied to your methods, but if you learn principles you can devise your own methods.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life is "trying things to see if they work"

- Ray Bradbury

There was never a genius without a tincture of madness.

- Aristotle

We're never gonna survive unless we go a little crazy.

- Seal

His genius he was quite content in one brief sentence to define; Of inspiration one percent, of perspiration, ninety nine.

- Thomas Edison

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there!

- Will Rogers

Inspirations never go in for long engagements; they demand immediate marriage to action.

- Brendan Francis

We have to understand that the world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation.
The hand is more important than the eye... The hand is the cutting edge of the mind.

- Jacob Bronowski

Vision without execution is delusion.

- Thomas Edison

Vision without action is daydreaming and action without vision is a nightmare.

- Anon

Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.

- Thomas Edison

If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable.

- Seneca

Real knowledge is to know the extent of one's ignorance.

- Confucius

Once you have a clear picture of your priorities – that is values, goals, and high leverage activities – organize around them.

- Dr. Stephen Covey

Cause Change & Lead

Accept Change & Survive

Resist Change & Die

- Ray Noorda, Chairman, Novell

Begin it Now

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans:

That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has Genius, Power and Magic in it.

Begin it now.

- Goethe

Start today! Today is the tomorrow you put it off until yesterday.

- Lyndon Forman

Eighty percent of success is showing up.

- Woody Allen

Press On

Nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance.

Talent will not;
Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.

Genius will not;
Unrewarded genius is almost legendary;

Education will not;
The world is full of educated derelicts.

Perseverance and Determination alone are omnipotent.

- US President Calvin Coolidge

Nearly every man who develops an idea works it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then he gets discouraged. That's not the place to become discouraged.

- Thomas Edison

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

- Confucius

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

- Thomas Edison

Don’t Quit!

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
when he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst, that
You Must Not Quit.

- C. W. Longenecker

Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.

- General George S. Patton

Winners never quit and quitters never win.

- Anon

Winners lose much more often than losers. So if you keep losing but you’re still trying, keep it up! You’re right on track.

- Matthew Keith Groves

I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career.

I’ve lost almost 300 games.

Twenty six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life.

And that is why I succeed.

- Michael Jordan

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

- Thomas Edison

Never Give Up

- Winston Churchill


Winners take chances like everyone else,
They fear failing, but they refuse to let fear control them.

Winners don’t give up,
When life gets tough, they hang in until the going gets better

Winners are flexible.
They realise there is more than one way and they are willing to try others.

Winners know they are not perfect.
They respect their weaknesses while making the most of their strengths.

Winners fall, but they don’t stay down.
They stubbornly refuse to let a fall keep them from climbing.

Winners don’t blame fate for their failures,
Nor luck for their successes.

Winners accept responsibility for their lives.

Winners are positive thinkers who see good in all things.
From the ordinary, they make the extraordinary.

Winners believe in the path they have chosen even when it’s hard,
Even when others can’t see where they are going.

Winners are patient.
They know a goal is only as worthy as the effort that’s required to achieve it.

Winners are people like you.
They make this world a better place to be.

- Nancye Sims

This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication.
The device is inherently of no value too us.

- Western Union internal memo 1876

You say this is a computer for ordinary people? Why would an ordinary person want a computer?

- Hewlett Packard executive to Steve Wozniak regarding Apple prototype

Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.

- Anon

In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins - not through strength,
but through persistence

- Buddha

Who dares wins

- Winston Churchill

Leap, and the net will appear.

- Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879)

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.

- Alan Curtis Kay, Developer of Object Oriented Programming and the Windowing Graphical User Interface

It always seems impossible until it's done

- Nelson Mandela

Trust in yourself. Your perceptions are often far more accurate than you are willing to believe.

- Claudia Black

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.

- Aristotle

If you worry about yesterday's failures, then today’s successes will be few.

- Anon

Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing, that we see too late the one that is open.

- Alexander Graham Bell

Rather the pain of discipline than the pain of regret.

- Bob Andrews

Things do not change; we change.

- Thoreau

When you're through changing, you're through.

- Bruce Barton

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

- Aristotle

Invest Your Time Before You Invest Your Money

- Anon

Test Your Strategy Before You Risk Your Money

- Matthew Keith Groves

Don't focus on how to spend less money,

Focus on how to make more money.

- Lyndon Forman

Remember the Golden Rule - He who has the gold makes the rules!

- Lyndon Forman

I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.

- Ancient Persian Proverb

Life is...

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfil it.
Life is a sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

- Mother Teresa

Life isn't a dress rehearsal

- Kerry Packer

In Life’s Garden

Count your garden by the flowers,
never by the leaves that fall.

Count your days by the golden hours,
don't remember the clouds at all.

Count your nights by the stars,
not by shadows.

Count your life with smiles not tears,
and with joy through all your life.

Count your age by friends not years.

- Anon

Just for Today

I will live through the next 12 hours and try not to tackle all of life's problems at once.

I will improve my mind, I will learn something that requires effort and concentration.

I will be agreeable.  I will look my best, speak in a well modulated voice, and be courteous and considerate.

I will not find fault with a friend, relative or colleague. I will not try to change or improve anyone but myself.

I will have a programme. I might not follow it exactly, but I will have it. I will save myself from two enemies:
hurry and indecision.

I will do a good turn and keep it a secret. If anyone finds out, it will not count.

I will do two things I don't want to do, just for the exercise.

I will believe in myself. I will give my best to the world and feel confident that the world will give it's best to me.

- Anon

A child who lives with Criticism
Learns to condemn

A child who lives with Hostility
Learns to fight

A child who lives with ridicule
Learns to be shy

A child who lives with shame
Learns to feel guilty

A child who lives with tolerance
Learns to be patient

A child who lives with encouragement
Learns confidence

A child who lives with Praise
Learns to appreciate

A child who lives with fairness
Learns justice

A child who lives with security
Learns faith

A child who lives with approval
Learns to like their self

A child who lives with acceptance & friendship
Learns to find love in the world

- Dorothy Law Nolte - (modified - non-sexist version!)

Take Time

Take Time to Think,
It is the source of power.

Take time to Play,
It is the source of perpetual youth.

Take time to Read,
It is the foundation of wisdom.

Take time to Love and to Be Loved,
It is a present.

Take time to Be Friendly,
It is the road to happiness.

Take time to Laugh,
It is the music of the soul.

Take time to Give,
It is too short a day to be selfish.

Take time to Work,
It is the price of success.

Take time to Do Charity,
It is the key to heaven.

- Anon

Live and work but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.

- Eileen Caddy

What is a friend?  A single soul dwelling in two bodies.

- Aristotle

I have friends in overalls whose friendship I would not swap for the favor of the kings of the world.

- Thomas Edison

A Smile

There's something you may give,
To a friend and a stranger too;

It seems that when you give it,
It's given back to you.

This present is worth a million,
But doesn't cost a dime;

It's lasting in effect,
But doesn't take much time,

This simple little gesture
Can make the day worthwhile;

It's just as good as sunshine;
It's what we call a smile.

- Jill Wolf

Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways at the last minute, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other,
body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO - That was Fun!”

- Anon

I expect to pass through this world but once.

Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now.

Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.

- Stephen Krebbet, 1793-1855

There is no heaven beyond what we appreciate and create while we are alive.

- Matthew Keith Groves

If an individual sets an achievable goal that equitably creates winners,
and that individual remains consistently focused on working toward their goal,
that individual will achieve their goal or die trying.
If a civilisation sets an achievable goal that equitably creates winners,
and that civilisation remains consistently focused on working toward their goal,
that civilization will achieve their goal.

Therefore let us empower all in our civilization with open information systems so they can educate themselves,
so more may better understand our universe,
so we may dream large and true,
so we may target a great vision,
so we may lift ourselves, our children and our grandchildren up to the most wonderful future possible.

- Matthew Keith Groves

Work like you don't need the money,
Dance like nobody's watching,
Love like you've never been hurt,
Sing like nobody's listening,
And Live like it's Heaven on Earth.

- First line by Satchel Paige, the rest by Mark Twain

This page was first created in March 1997 and was last modified 28 March 2013.

Classic Motivational Quotes

Copyright © Matthew Keith Groves 1996-2013. All rights reserved.