6 Powerful and Inspirational Quotes I Love

Grab the new QBQ! Workbook here. Personal, powerful, and practical!


I’ve been asked, “What are you currently reading and what do you recommend?”  

My answer?

Nothing and zip. (Well, I could recommend these books, but that might be a tad self-serving!)

But seriously, I’m not a big reader.

What has meant a great deal to me, though, are specific quotes. I’ll share them here and then ask you to give us a favorite quote. Here we go!

The eye cannot see itself.

Charles Spurgeon

This is, in essence, the QBQ! book’s message of personal accountability. For me to grow, since I can’t see how what I say and do affects others, I must be willing to seek feedback. There is no better way to learn and change than to ask people around me for input—and then use it! This is why we recently posted this: Permission to Speak Candidly? Get Some Coaching!

Thinking is the hardest work, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.

Henry Ford

People who don’t think, rarely succeed. They “buy the party line” without exploring and deciding for themselves what is right and wrong. They aren’t observant and reflective—nor analytical—enough to find better ways of doing life. Or, worse yet, they are driven by emotion only. Using our brain is the foundation of achievement in all areas of life, and clearly, Mr. Ford himself didn’t see enough of it!

  Truth is the highest law.


I am a “facts before feelings” guy. The problem with feelings is one can be passionate, angry, or excited about untruth. I detest the “you have your truth and I have my truth” philosophy. In a debate, the critical question is, “What are the facts?” It’s a question often skipped when strong emotions are involved. However, cool, calm and collected people are willing to ask it. Never forget this: Truth is like surgery—it hurts but it heals.

See the handwritten note in the image above? It was written in 1969 by Mrs. Friedrich, my 5th-grade teacher. Politically correct today? Nope. Was I a loudmouth who needed to learn to shut up? Truth!

The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

When I became a speaker in 1995 after a decade of selling training, I sat down with an older, wiser presenter. He recommended a speaking fee I should quote clients. My first thought was, I’ve sold training programs for a lot more than that! So I doubled the fee he suggested and Norwest Bank (now Wells Fargo) booked me. Simply put, my brain had been expanded by past experience. Neither you nor I can reach new and bigger goals until that happens. Find ways to expand your mind today!

When you go into the end zone, act like you’ve been there before.

Vince Lombardi

When I was a kid, my dad’s favorite line was, “There’s no conceit in our family … Johnny has it all!” As the baby of four sibs, I was a showman and comic. Almost grown up now, I need to be careful not to display arrogance and pride. I loathe haughtiness in me—and others. Whether it’s a new president speaking the obvious with “I won!” or a linebacker dancing over a sacked quarterback, it really turns me off. As we write in the amazing, easy-to-read, life-changing, million-seller QBQ! book—”The cornerstone of leadership is humility.” (Uh-oh, there’s that personal pride coming out again!)

You can’t keep doing the right things without results coming.

Jim Strutton

Jim Strutton brought me into the training industry in 1986. Two months in, he observed me on a sales call—when I did not make the sale. In the parking lot, though, he spoke the encouraging words above, and I never forgot them. Keep doing what I’m doing and everything will work out fine. He was right. Everything did. Thanks, Jim!

So, what is your favorite quote? Share one below!

Grab the new QBQ! Workbook here. Personal, powerful, and practical!



32 Responses

  1. Hi John,
    Here is an original quote: “You can’t clean a closet in a closet.” In other words – sometimes you really just need to dive in and understand the problem/situation. If you keep yourself closed-in, with a narrow minded approach, you miss details (not gossip) that might be hiding ‘in the back of the closet.’ Getting to the root of the problem quickly, means you can put most of your energy in to coming up with a solution.

  2. “Nothing Good is Easy, Nothing Easy is Free.” – unknown

    After a freshman year in college that was horrendous (My brother died in a construction accident just 4 weeks into the semester), I checked into a different dorm room and with a different major. I had spoken with the Dean of the Engineering School about my pathetic GPA. I’d studied but simply couldn’t seem to absorb the material after having a 2nd brother die (the first was when I was 13…car accident). He agreed not to penalize me and provide another opportunity to continue my studies.

    Uncertain whether I would succeed, the quote was written in permanent marker on a cork board above my desk. Through the grace of God, with a new blessing (my now Bride of 19 years), and a renewed commitment to work to succeed in the engineering field, I often referred to that powerful quote.

    I have challenged our two children to find an exception and offered them $100 (they’re 13 and 10) if they can find the exception to that rule. After 26 years I have not, though I’m inclined to believe there may be an exception that is so rare it proves a rule that I now believe. Again, “Nothing Good is Easy, Nothing Easy is Good.”

  3. Quote: “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right”.–Henry Ford. I believe he took this quote from the original author of Proverbs 23:7 – “As a man thinketh, so is he.” We need to set our minds to think right.

  4. Hi John…as weird as it may sound…”Do or Do Not…There is No Try” is one of my favorite quotes. It is a simple thought that can direct your actions. Either commit to doing your very best or do not waste the time of others with half inspired efforts. Life is too short to not enjoy the success of the mind at work and if you commit then the only thing that can prevent success is your own limits of endurance and perseverance.

  5. “I always wondered why someone didn’t do something about that … then I realized I was someone.” Lily Tomlin

  6. I’m also a quote collector and sender…here’s a couple I’ve recently sent to our service team:

    “We’ll be remembered for two things when we die: problems we solved and problems we created!” –many versions of this

    “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to better. It’s not.” -Dr Seuss

    I love the Vince Lombardi quote…needs to be posted in big letters on the goal posts of every end zone!

  7. Two of my favorites:

    “I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living or get busy dying.” – Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

    “To fight a bull when you are not scared is nothing. And to not fight a bull when you are scared is nothing. But to fight a bull when you are scared is something.” – Unknown

  8. One of my favorites:

    The planning can’t keep up with the changing. Anonymous, from a Chinese colleague.

    This quote forms the basis for my life and work:

    It is the purity of the heart and mind of the doer, and his innocent and faithful approach to action with the purpose of all good to everyone, that really succeeds in yielding maximum results. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

  9. Not to inflate your ego, but one of my favorites is from your book “Outstanding”

    “There is only one way to coast…downhill.”
    I use it all of the time.
    It is also very reminiscent of one my Dad taught me, “never get comfortable, because comfortable leads to complacent, and complacent becomes incompetence”

  10. Life is Full of Obstacle Illusions – have had this quote visible at home and work for years, but have no idea where it came from to start.

  11. “You cannot live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you” John Wooden

    “Somebody HAS to do something about this, and it’d just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.” Jerry Garcia

  12. I have three. If you let me include all the John Wooden quotes I have a hundred:)

    “Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” John Wooden

    “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.” John Wooden

    “Understand that we all will leave a legacy. The only question is what kind of legacy we will leave – positive or negative. It’s not a question we should put off until our last days on earth. Its something we must think about now, each and every day that we live.” Tony Dungy

  13. Some that really fall inline with QBQ….

    You are not a failure until you start blaming others for your mistakes…
    John Wooden
    Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do….
    John Wooden
    Rather than look at what someone else can do, look at what you can do…..
    I am not sure who stated this!
    It is the start that stops most people….
    Don Shula

    And… my two favorites…
    It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. .. Thomas Sowell
    If your mind isn’t open, keep your mouth shut too….
    Sue Grafton

    Peace and Fins UP!
    Mutt Helms

  14. “If you must speak, ask a question.”….Omer Reid
    “You aren’t learning much when your lips are moving.”…unknown
    Tanya, thanks for the Doug Larson quote, above. Same idea!

  15. John Wooden was an English teacher first and basketball coach second. My favorite Woodenism is “it’s amazing how much can be accomplished when no body cares who gets the credit” This level of humility will improve any organization. My other favorite I head early on. “God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth.Listen twice as much as you talk.” Again, humility and respect for others and their opinions.

  16. From Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol:
    “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

    “I’m reducing ignorance every day, always starting with my own.” This one is my own and is formed from combining the essence of the Dickens quote with my many years of learning as a systems thinker and root causes analysis practitioner.

    Max Planck “A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” This one plays out far too often in the culture of my workplace, which ironically is chock full of high analytical engineers.

  17. I have four quotes that I love and work to apply daily to both my personal and business life. They are:

    “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s game.” – Babe Ruth
    “Don’t let the fear of striking out keep you from swinging.” – Babe Ruth
    “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda
    After Luke tells Yoda, “I can’t believe it!” Yoda responds, “That is why you fail.”

    Have an AWESOME day, a very Merry Christmas (or Hannukah), and a PROSPEROUS New Year!

  18. “The secret things belong to the Lord; those things revealed belong to us and to our children.” Deuteronomy 29:29

    When tragedy or misfortune strike, more often than not I cannot explain it. God showed me Deuteronomy 29:29 when my father died at 48 years of age my freshman year in college with a single mother and six siblings at home, an older brother in the army. Life was rough without Dad, and Jimmy Miller, John’s father, was one who helped me greatly in my visits to Ithaca. When I asked, “Why, Lord?”, He simply answered me with this verse. I began to understand that this tragic secret was not mine to know. Rather than spend my time trying to pry God’s answer from Him, or become paralyzed with inaction as a victim, God wanted me to spend my life focusing on what I already knew from His revelations and apply His diving principles. That simple adjustment in my life has radically changed the way I deal with my affairs. I am quite busy just discovering His revealed gems and trying to apply them in this earthly life. Focusing on the revealed truth has made me a happier and more optimistic person.

  19. “The slow drip wears on the rocks more than the big splash.” My grandfather used to say this as a way of encouraging one to remain steady. Big splashes look cool and seem exciting, but their impact is not as big as their magnificent splash. A slow steady drip will hollow out a hole through stone. Not too exciting, but quite effective at causing change.

  20. Choose to respond positively to sudden change.
    How we manage our thoughts(or they manage us) directs us to responding instead of reacting.

  21. Sgt. David D Welling

    ” Ends and means are completely inseparable. There is no way in which a person can truly accomplish a worthy end by using unworthy means.” Stephen R Covey

    There’s no chance, no destiny, no fate that can circumvent, hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul. FROM WHERE EAGLES REST BY HYRUM SMITH( A MUST READ)

  22. Hi John,
    I’ve always believed that we bring about what we think about. So I love this:

    “A man is but the product of his thoughts, what he thinks, he becomes.- Gandi

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