I still vividly remember stumbling across a volume of Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations for the first time. I was in second grade, carefully choosing the books I would check out from the local library. As I made the decision to include this interesting book in the day’s bounty, I immediately began to wonder whose job it was to edit such a publication. And who were the great men and women who first spoke these important words?
More than two decades later, I’m still a big fan of quotations. 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 notes in books — especially when they are applicable to entrepreneurship. When I need an added dose of inspiration or advice, I often turn to these beloved words of wisdom.
Here are some of my favorites, 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 collecting quotations, I’m including 25 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 much be reached.” – Franz Kafka
“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.” – Andre 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 sixty 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
On Problem Solving
“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 Seeing 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
If you enjoyed this list, I encourage you to bookmark this page and visit it again when you need a dose of motivation in the form of well-tested words of wisdom.
Brittany Hodak is the cofounder of ZinePak. She has been named to Advertising Age’s 40 Under 40 list, Inc.’s 35 Under 35 list, and Billboard’s 30 Under 30 list. She won a prestigious Stevie Award for Young Female Entrepreneur of the Year, was a finalist in Entrepreneur magazine’s 2014 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year competition, and has been recognized at the United Nations as one of the Top 100 Young Entrepreneurs in America two years in a row. In 2014, ZinePak was named Empact’s “Most Disruptive Company” at the United Nations ceremony for its role in redefining physical music.