I like quotes, but often feel like they get misused. Quotes in and of themselves do not help create a motivational workplace. I’ve been in many offices where they have the “Successories” posters hanging all around, and the motivation level is putrid. I’ve seen managers pull out quotes to describe any situation or provide a witty response to an employee need. Too often, I feel that quotes are a simple way out of thinking too hard oneself.

Quotes are best used, in my opinion, for three purposes: first, when they have an intrinsic connection to the individual and provide them with insight, reflection, or a reminder of something that is important to them; second, when they can say something better than we can to expound on an idea, a concept or an attitude; and third, when the words take on a different significance because of the original author.
That being said, here are just a few of my favorite motivational quotes and why.

“Never think you know” – author unknown.

This was written in a tunnel on the campus of the University of Iowa when I was a freshman there. I copied it down on a ruled sheet of paper and had it posted to my bulletin board for years. To me it was a way of challenging the presumptions that we all have. It touched a part of what drives me – the drive to comprehend, to understand, to know and not just presume. In my head, I typically said, “know you know” after reading it. Go ahead, try it.

“Become the change you want to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

This quote is one that is often overused but I like it for the story behind it and the simple, clear message it provides. Supposedly, Gandhi was approached by a woman and her son. The son was overweight. The woman pleaded with Gandhi to tell her son to stop eating sweats, to which Gandhi answered, “I cannot. Come back in a month.” The woman brought back her son in a month and this time Gandhi told him to stop eating sweats. He himself had given them up – therefore he had “become the change” that was needed.

“The important thing is to not stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein

This quote has an intrinsic appeal to me, particularly coming from the likes of one of the greatest scientists of all time. It gets at a point that I feel is important. It reminds me to keep pushing the boundaries and never stop asking the question “why?”

Please let me know some of your favorite quotes and more importantly why…