I still vividly remember stumbling across a volume of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for the first time. I was in second grade, carefully choosing books to check out from the local library. The maximum number of books you could borrow at a time was 25, and I was accustomed to devouring each beloved book quickly and enthusiastically.
As I made the decision to include this interesting book in the day’s bounty, my mind immediately began to wonder whose job it is to edit such a publication? And who are the great men and women who first spoke these important words? How important they must be, I decided, to end up in such a monumental book!
More than two decades later, I’m still a big fan of motivational quotes. I have my favorites scrawled in notebooks, taped on mirrors, and even stitched into pillows for easy, frequent reference. I highlight them in my Kindle, bookmark them in Chrome, and use Post-it flags in books—especially when the quotations are applicable to entrepreneurship. When I need an added dose of inspiration or advice, I often turn to these beloved words of wisdom for an added touch of motivation.
Here are some of my favorite quotes, divided roughly into categories as they relate to my life as an entrepreneur. In honor of the book-borrowing limit at the Fort Smith Public Library on the day when I first fell in love with quote collecting, I’m including 25 quotes here. I hope you find them as inspirational and powerful as I do.
On going for it
“From a certain point onward there is no longer any turning back. That is the point that must be reached.” —Franz Kafka
“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” —André Gide
“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” —Soren Kierkegaard
“Bite off more than you can chew, then chew it.” —Ella Williams
On making mistakes
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” —Winston Churchill
“Never be ashamed to admit you are in the wrong—it’s just another way to say you are wiser today than yesterday.” —Jonathan Swift
“The person who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” —Edward John Phelps
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” —Marianne Williamson
“The other side of every fear is a freedom.” —Marilyn Ferguson
On happiness and kindness
“For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” —Theodore Isaac Rubin
“The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” —John Southard
On hard work
“Only a mediocre person is always at their best.” —W. Somerset Maugham
“Opportunity is missed by most because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” —Thomas Alva Edison
“The most successful people are those who are good at Plan B.” —James Yorke
“One of the nice things about problems is that a good many of them do not exist except in our imaginations.” —Steve Allen
“The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” —Theodore Isaac Rubin
“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” —Albert Einstein
On working with others
“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish you to be.” —Thomas à Kempis
“I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble.” —Rudyard Kipling
“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” —Charles Kettering
On the big picture
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” —John Lubbock
“You become what you think about all day long.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
“No one has ever become poor by giving.” —Anne Frank
“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” —Henry Ford
This article was originally published on May 18, 2016, and has been updated throughout by the editors.