Episode 284: Words of Inspiration and Motivation

Episode Summary

For this episode, we prepared something special. This episode is about inspiring and motivating you to become the best version of yourself. I’ll share more than 50 motivational phrases and aphorisms I’ve collected over the last five decades that helped and inspired me along the way.  

Steve Shallenberger: Welcome to the Becoming Your Best podcast listeners, wherever you may be in the world today. It is so good to be together with you. We compliment you, we thank you for your energy, your enthusiasm to learn, to improve yourself, to work on becoming your best. And today is going to be a unique podcast. I’m going to entitle it “Words of Inspiration and Motivation”. And the source from this podcast represents 50 years of inspirational thoughts that I’ve been exposed to – books that I’ve read, personal acquaintances, speakers, or sometimes I just saw a quote somewhere and it really hit me at the right time and I wrote it down. Some of these are humorous, but most are wildly inspirational. It’s not a comprehensive list but it is a list that when I saw these thoughts, what I would do is simply open up a file that I have – an electronic file – and capture that thought. And today I am going to share those with you. I’ve never done this before; I don’t think I’ve shared it with my family. If I ever want really a lift, I open this file and read it. And so, I hope that you enjoy it.  

You’ve heard of the acronym before GIGO. And for some, it stands for garbage in garbage out, of course, but we suggest that it really is best represented with greatness in and greatness out. So, these are quotes of greatness. Many I have committed to memory and you can hear them as I share them, you’ll also find that there’s the transcription. So, you’ll have a permanent copy that you may find that you’ll have an idea as I’m going through them, that will give you encouragement, that will give you motivation or inspiration, or even comfort. Or maybe what we talk about today or some of the quotes will spark an idea or provide the idea for a solution to a problem. They are something that you can review upon your demand if you so desire. I love the quotes “As a man thinketh, so is he.” and “What you think about is what you bring about.” And so, these are the type of thoughts we deliberately place in our mind, in our heart that has a big influence on our attitudes and being able to maintain a positive aspect of life. I love this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.” So, the type of quotes and thoughts that I’ll share today are exactly those, they all start with putting the right kinds of thoughts in our mind. And that’s what we become alike. So, here we go. I hope you enjoy them. There are probably about 50 different quotes here. Let’s just dive right into them.  

Here we go. By Jim Lovell, first of all: “There are people who make things happen, there are people who watch things happen, and there are people who wonder what happened. To be successful, you need to be a person who makes things happen.”  

Okay, here is another one that I love, shared by Thomas Edison. One day, Thomas Edison came home and gave a paper to his mother. He told her, “My teacher gave this paper to me and told me to only give it to my mother.”. His mother’s eyes were tearful as she read the letter out loud to her child. “Your son is a genius. This school is too small for him and doesn’t have enough good teachers for training him. Please teach him yourself.” After many, many years after Edison’s mother died and he was now one of the greatest inventors of the century, one day he was looking through old family things. Suddenly, he saw a folded paper in the corner of a drawer, in a desk. He took it and opened it. On the paper was written, “Your son is addled, mentally ill. We won’t let him come to school anymore.” Edison cried for hours and then he wrote in his diary, “Thomas Alva Edison was an adult child that by a hero mother became the genius of the century.” Isn’t that great?  

Well, this next one is from an old Ann Landers column – she used to be a columnist as some would remember, at least one that I remember when I was growing up – and goes as follows, “There is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. And Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. And it ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.” There we go.  

I love this one by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” I first heard that and was shared by Governor Gary R. Herbert Herbert, former governor for the state of Utah, the longest-serving governor ever. He had been the chairman of the National Governors Association. Wonderful man, I appreciate him sharing that.  

Here we go, “Falling down is normal, but it’s a painful part of life. Getting back up is a courageous and glorious part of living.” That’s from yours truly, Steve Shallenberger.  

Here’s another one. “If you approach today’s business with yesterday’s practices, you will be out of business tomorrow.” – shared with me by my friend, Robert K. Dellenbach.  

Here’s another one that I have coined, “If you approach business with the correct principles today, you will have a better chance at succeeding in business tomorrow.”.  

Here’s one from George Bernard Shaw: “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it.” Great.  

Here’s from one of my favorite contributors, James Allen, who has so many great concepts and thoughts. “Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream so shall you become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be; your ideal is the prophecy of what you shall at last unveil.” Isn’t that inspirational?  

Okay, here’s another one. This is anonymous: “At God’s footstool to confess a poor soul knelt and bowed his head; ‘I failed’, he cried. And the Master said ‘Thou didst thy best—that is success!’”. Very nice.  

And one from Dr. Zeus, I Iove this one: “Think left and think right, and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try.”  

Okay, here’s one from Mr. Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent; but the one most responsive to change.” So, there you have that one, that’s a good one.  

Here’s one by Winston Churchill, “One ought never to turn one’s back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you need it promptly, and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half. Never run away from anything. Never.” Well, that sounds like Winston Churchill, doesn’t it?  

Okay, here we go by Audrey Hepburn – I love this one; it just touches me: “The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.” Thank you, Audrey.  

Here’s one from Mother Teresa, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”  

Another from Thomas Edison, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” 

And Helen Keller, “Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room, I shall be able to see.” What an inspiration, Helen Keller has been.  

And C.S. Lewis – talk about inspiration – “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” Okay, good. Good going.  

And from my friend Norman Vincent Peale, who was the king, the guru of positive thinking, so wonderful. Here you go, “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result but the cause of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.” Thank you.  

And W. Clement Stone, “Every great man, every successful man – and of course woman – no matter what the field of endeavor, has known the magic that lies in these words: every adversity has the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit.” He is such an inspiration.  

And Mark Twain, who happened to be my great-great uncle, said this: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” Way to go, Mark. Way to go uncle.  

And Nelson Mandela, “A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”  

And from my friend, Denis Waitley, who is a legend in himself: “Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” 

Here’s one from Johnny Cash, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Great advice.  

And Maria Robinson: “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Love it!  

And from our friend C.S. Lewis, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird, and it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present and you cannot go on infinitely or indefinitely being just an ordinary decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.” Oh, that’s a good motivation to get going.  

Alright, here’s one that I’m not exactly sure where it came from: “To borrow the words of our friend and founder, the late Pugsley, ‘The day you sign your personal Declaration of Independence should become the most important holiday in your life.’ Jack originally wrote these words in July 2006” – so I’m thinking this is Jack Welsh. I read a book of his that was really inspirational. The former president CEO of GE who supervised, his leadership was legendary. “But like most of his work, Jack’s ideals are timeless.”  

Okay, Henry Ford: “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”  

Here we go. I like this next one. “Speed is irrelevant if you’re going in the wrong direction.” – Mahatma Gandhi.  

And Mr. Ronald Reagan, “Some people wonder all their lives if they’ve made a difference. The Marines don’t have that problem.” Way to go, Mr. Reagan. I’ve had the chance to meet him as well.  

Martin Luther King – such an inspiration – said, “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” Good stuff. Thank you. 

And here’s a Latin proverb “If there is no wind, row.”  

Okay, good. Ken Wilbur said, “The work we do on ourselves, whether it is psychological or spiritual, is not meant to get rid of the waves in the ocean of life but for us to learn how to surf.” Okay, good job.  

And here’s one that’s unknown: “The past is the past. Don’t let it kill you. Get over the bad things that happened. It’s gone. People change. Memories remain. But it’s time to move on.” Okay, thank you, very good.  

All righty. Here is another one that I coined a couple of years ago, “It really doesn’t matter who’s right or wrong, or who’s at fault! But what matters is how to get things right! How do we get to the best place! So, let’s go to work and solve the problems together!”  

Okay, here we go on the next one, which is by Maya Angelou – this one’s a classic: “Each of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather, some superstorm or even a spiritual superstorm. When we look at each other we must say, ‘I understand. I understand how you feel because I have been there myself.’ We must support each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.” I love her and miss her.  

Here’s one by Alice Morse Earle, “The clock is running. Make the most of today. Time waits for no man. Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” Okay, good.  

Mother Teresa: “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.” 

Now I’m just going to pause for a second to let you catch your breath. I hope that you’re enjoying these that have been helpful.  

Let’s pick it up with C. S. Lewis, “Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.” 

“Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked – I hope you enjoy this one – barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail, and, with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath…. This made him a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.” 

All right, back on to Helen Keller, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”  

And Thomas Jefferson proclaimed, “When the time for talking is over and those with courage take destiny into their hands, watch closely because miracles happen often and heroes are born in the blink of an eye.”  

And T.E. Lawrence said, “All men dream but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men and women, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.”  

Okay, this next one’s really fun. “The ancients who wished to illustrate the highest virtue throughout the empire first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their own selves. Wishing to cultivate their own selves, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to regulate their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge.” Thank you, Confucius! Shared over 500 years ago.  

And this next one by Confucius I love: “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”  

Here’s one by Walt Whitman – some of you may have heard this one before: 

“Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring, 

Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish, 

Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?) 

Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d, 

Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me, 

Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined, 

The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life? 


That you are here—that life exists and identity, 

That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. 

And the question. 

What will your verse be?” 

Okay, good enough. Now, this is one of my favorite quotes by Edgar Albert Guest, entitled “It Couldn’t Be Done”. This happens to be one that I committed to memory. It goes like this:  

“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 ever 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 in with a bit of a grin, 

Just take off your coat and go to it; 

Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing 

That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.” 

Okay, well, we’re having fun going into the stretch here. Here are a few aphorisms for the year. “It’s not whether you win or lose, but it’s how you place the blame.” These are just kind of some humorous ones and so take them with a grain of salt. Here we go, “We have enough “youth”, how about a fountain of “smart”?” and “The original point and click interface was a Smith & Wesson.” Okay, whatever. Here we go, “If at first, you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.” Okay. And “We are born naked, wet, and hungry. And things just get worse.” These are a whole bunch that I saw, I don’t agree with them all but they’re fun. “Red meat is not bad for you. Fuzzy green meat is bad for you.”. “Artificial Intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.”. Just a couple of more of these, then we’ll get back to the serious ones and kind of get into the stretch of wrapping things up. We have about five or six minutes left. I hope that you’ve enjoyed these, I hope it’s been helpful. Maybe one sparks an idea even for you. “The latest survey – this is a fun one you have to really listen close on this – latest survey shows that three out of four people make up 75% of the population.” Okay, here’s the last of these aphorisms. “I think Congresspeople should wear uniforms, like the NASCAR drivers so we could identify their corporate sponsors.”  

Okay, here we go back to Henry David Thoreau, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined he will meet with success unexpected in common hours.”  

And this is one of my all-time favorites by Marcus Aurelius, “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, and to love.”  

Teddy Roosevelt hoped to never be among those cold and timid souls who never know victory or defeat and left us with this amazing quote: “It’s not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who actually is in the arena – and every time I say, man, of course, we mean woman as well – whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly who errs, who comes short, again and again. Because there is no effort without error or shortcoming. But who does actually strive to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself – or herself – in a worthy cause, and who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement. And who at the worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his – or her – place shall never be with the cold and timid souls, who neither know victory nor defeat.” Well, these are great, aren’t they? 

Here’s one, by Yehuda Berg, “Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, or to be humble.”  

Okay, well, here’s my friend Norman Vincent Peale, “Become a possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be, or actually are, raise your sights and see the possibilities – always see them for they’re always there.”  

Confucius said, “To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.” Okay, a little bit of a hard one to say.  

Well, Woodrow Wilson shared this, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand.” 

Julie Andrews said, “Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.”  

Mark Twain: “The two most important days in your life are when you are born and the day you found out why?” Well, okay.  

Muhammad Ali said this, “It is the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.” 

Albert Schweitzer said, “At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has caused to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”  

Now, here’s another good one, “Let others lead small lies, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. And let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” Thank you, Jim Rohn, for that inspiration.  

And Henry Thoreau said, “As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” And that’s really the purpose of what we’re talking about today.  

I would like to just finish up with these following thoughts by Sir Isaac Newton stated almost 500 years ago: “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself, I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.” What an inspiration.  

And I’ll finish up with these last two, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ’Till the good is better and the better is best.”, first shared by St. Francis of Assisi 500 years ago. I’ve tweaked that a little bit, and it has just as much power today.  

And the final one I’d like to share – one of my favorites I’ve also committed to memory: “One ship sails east and another sails west by the selfsame winds that blow. Tis the set of the sails and not the gales that determines the way she goes. Like the ships of the sea are the ways of fate, as we journey along through life: tis the set of the soul that determines the goal, and not the calm and the strife.” Thank you, Ella Wheeler Wilcox.  

Well, today I hope that you have found something that has been of interest, of inspiration, of motivation to you. You, together with our quest of becoming our best are an inspiration in itself, blessing people, lifting, and building every single day. This is Steve Shallenberger wishing you the best. And I sign off and give you a big strong high five. 

Steve Shallenberger

Founder, Becoming Your Best
CEO, executive, corporate trainer, and community leader.
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