14 Inspiration Quotes That Will Change Your Life in 2014

Words not just stick to on the wall...but to inspire actions that lead to greater success this year.

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This post is in partnership with Inc., which offers useful advice, resources, and insights to entrepreneurs and business owners. The article below was originally published at Inc.com.

I used to hate inspirational quotes, maybe because my wrestling coach used to say, “If you’re not puking or passing out… you’re not trying hard enough.” (Go ahead: bask in the warm glow of that little gem.)

Now I think inspirational quotes can indeed be inspirational–but only if we actually apply and live those words.

So instead of just grabbing famous quotes we’ve all heard before, I’ve picked things people told me that caused me to act differently. I probably won’t remember what, say, Ben Franklin once said, no matter how poignant or witty, but I definitely remember what certain people said to me at critical moments in my life:

1. “Only a genius can do things his own way. You? You’re no genius.” I worked a construction job one summer and kept questioning what I was told to do. The foreman finally, in no uncertain terms, set me straight. It’s okay to reinvent the wheel, but only after you know how the current wheel works. Never assume you know better when you don’t really know anything.

2. “If you want to know how much you’ll be missed when you are gone, put your finger in a bucket of water and then remove it. The hole that’s left will be how much you are missed.” No one is irreplaceable. No one. Not even this guy. Instead of depressing, the thought we’re professionally replaceable is liberating. You may not leave a hole, but you can leave a mark on a person, a team, or a culture that lives on after you’re gone.

You may not be missed but you can be remembered–in the best possible way.

3. “We all have limits. Almost no one reaches theirs. You definitely haven’t.” You could swim faster if a shark was on your tail. You could run faster if your child was in danger. You could work harder if the payoff was truly exceptional.

What we think we can do is always–always–less than what we can do if we really, reallytry. We always have a little more in us. Find your true limits and you may find that success is limitless.

4. “Unless you’re the lead dog in the sled, the view never changes.” Following the crowd means living the same life as the crowd. You don’t want that.

5. “There are two types of pain you will go through in life: the pain of discipline and the pain of regret. Discipline weighs ounces while regret weights tons.” (Original to Jim Rohn.) The worst words you can say are, “I just wish I had…” Push yourself to do what you hope to do… so you will never have to regret not having tried.

6. “Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.” (Gotta love Dean Wormer.) I haven’t overcome the stupid part… but I’m trying.

7. “The coward dies a thousand deaths, the brave but one.” (Original to Ernest Hemingway.) Think about easing into a cold ocean; every inch is excruciating. Dive in and it sucks big time, but then it’s over. It’s even worse to turn away from what scares you because when you do, deep inside, a little piece of you withers and dies.

Dive in. It’s never as cold, or as bad, as you think.

8. “Today’s pain is tomorrow’s power. The more you suffer today, the stronger you are tomorrow.” Self-pity is self-defeating. Tomorrow’s success is based on today’s discomfort. Plus willpower is like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger your will gets.

And the easier it is to call on when dedication and persistence make all the difference.

9. “Bravery means finding something more important than fear.” Courage without meaning is just recklessness. Brave people aren’t fearless; they’ve simply found something that matters more to them than the fear they’re facing. Say you’re scared to start a business. Find a reason that has greater meaning than the fear: Your family’s future, your desire to make a difference, or your dream of a more fulfilling life.

When you find a greater meaning you find the courage to overcome your fear.

10. “Do it or not. There is no try.” (Original Yoda, philosopher and avant-garde sentence constructor.) A boss once gave me what I thought was an impossible task. I said, “Okay… I’ll try.” He explained that I would finish as long as I didn’t quit. Trying didn’t enter into it. Persistence was all that mattered.

Often we say, “I’ll try…” because it gives us an out. Once we say, “I will,” our perspective changes. What previously seemed insurmountable is no longer a matter of luck or chance but of time and effort and persistence.

When what you want to do really matters, never say, “I’ll try.” Say, “I will,” and keep that promise to yourself.

11. “Stop waiting for the ‘right time.’ Success is a numbers game: the number of times you take a shot.” You’ll never create the perfect business plan, never find the perfect partners, the perfect market, the perfect location, but you can find the perfect time to start.

That time is now.

Talent, experience, and connections are important, but put your all into enough new things and some will work. Take enough shots and over time you’ll grow more skilled, more experienced, and more connected. And that will mean a greater percentage of your efforts will succeed. Take enough shots, learn from what didn’t work, and in time you’ll have all the skills, experience, and connections you need.

Ultimately success is all about taking your shot, over and over again. Sometimes you may win, sometimes you will definitely lose, but the more things you try the more chances you have of succeeding. Put the power of numbers on your side. Take as many shots as you can. There’s no guarantee of success, but when you don’t take a shot, there’s a definite guarantee of failure.

12. “Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die.” The same holds for bitterness. And jealousy. And dislike. Let it go. If you don’t, the only loser is you.

13. “The extra mile is a vast, unpopulated wasteland.” (Me.) Everyone says they go the extra mile, but almost no one actually does. Most people think, “Wait… no one else is here… why am I doing this?”

That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place. That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities. Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment. Don’t wait to be asked; offer. Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do–especially if other people aren’t doing that one thing. Sure, it’s hard.

But that’s what will make you different–and over time will make you incredibly successful.

14. “It’s just a flesh wound.”The Black Knight never gives up.

Neither should we.

Now it’s your turn: What has another person said to you that made a lasting impact? Add your favorite quotes in the comments below!

Read more from Inc.com:
10 Ways You Should Never Describe Yourself
8 Things You Should Not Do Every Day

20 comments
paul.griffinn
paul.griffinn

This collection of quotes is once in a lifetime! This one is the best “Stop waiting for the ‘right time.’ Success is a numbers game: the number of times you take a shot.”. I totally agree with it. Those who are not afraind of failiure will truly succeed. Thank you for the positive post, Jeff. It really made my day. I also found this article http://hardquotes.com/inspirational-quotes/inspirational-quotes-about-life-second that caught my eye. There are some good inspirational quotes about life. I think some of the readers here may find it useful too.

HelenLaas
HelenLaas

"My candle burns at both ends;

It will not last the night;

But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—

It gives a lovely light!"

Originally by Edna St. Vincent Millay, I learnt it from Roald Dahl who lived his long life by this motto. I was in a serious MVA seven years ago and you never know how long you have to shine. Even with a permanent disability, I plan to leave the brightest explosion behind.. . Make a difference, touch as many lives with love as I may.

StephenHowell
StephenHowell

"What are you waiting for?" This was a question I was asked last year during an interview in the Spring of 2013 with a real estate broker when I was thinking about changing markets.  As a result, I studied for and passed the Florida real estate license exam and moved my real estate practice from Annapolis Maryland to Sarasota Florida at the end of 2013. Now 2014 I can look back and reflect on how much was accomplished. That one question changed the course of 2013. Questions can be very powerful motivators.

MarcBridgham
MarcBridgham

"Don't intellectualize sunsets" whispered by a woman in passing after overhearing a friend and I pontificating to each other on the mysteries of the universe while on a beach at sunset.  Always reminds me to appreciate the wonder and mystery around me - and forget "me".

ManURdumb
ManURdumb

If you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, then you'll be successful.

msrm6n
msrm6n

Informative indeed.

JillKoenig
JillKoenig

"Results will show up when you do." -Jill Koenig


Whenever I feel stuck or discouraged, it takes me out of self-pity, and reminds me to unleash more of my own resourcefulness. I find that there is always something more I can do. Sometimes I just need to call someone, get another perspective, double my efforts, take a step back and get a new perspective, rework my plan, etc. Most of my struggles in life have come when I have not been giving my all.

PaulBeregi
PaulBeregi

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds

Einstein

manjeetchaturve
manjeetchaturve

Rivers know that they can't cheat. The trees know that they can't retreat. The Earth knows that unless you fall, it can not beat. ( Facebook post by Manjeet Chaturvedi, January 15)

JeanaMarchant
JeanaMarchant

"Is this the hill you want to die on?" ~My Mother...

Greisha
Greisha

The first four make some sense.  Starting with #5 it is all old and boring platitudes. 

enakamura
enakamura

"Follow what you are genuinely passionate about and let that guide you to your destination" - Diane Sawyer


"The only safe thing is to take a chance." - Elaine May

vortex100
vortex100

"Dive in. It’s never as cold, or as bad, as you think."


Talk to any rescue worker and they will tell you this is a very good way to turn up disabled or dead. It can indeed be much colder and far worse than you can possibly imagine. Always test the waters before diving in, or you are a fool.


Diving in can be a horrible, horrible choice. You are endowed with a sense of fear for a reason. While you shouldn't let fear overcome your life, you should listen to your fear and intuition. Those who don't often end up financially ruined or much worse. Be bold but cautious.

jwesberry
jwesberry

The original of No. 7: 

“A coward dies a thousand times before his death, but the valiant taste of death but once." William Shakespeare

BarbaraSamson
BarbaraSamson

Are there stones that hurt your feet? Keep on. Are you fearful who you meet? Keep on. Every road is hard to wend. God will meet you in the end. Keep on.

(At 16, a boy named Bob Tier wrote this on a piece of paper in peacock blue ink when I was feeling down. I'm 68 now and I still have that piece of paper.)

SumitThapa
SumitThapa

Not Standing up for yourself. Just  because others may disagree with you, it doesn't mean you have to abandon your principals.

RahulBohara
RahulBohara

Truly amazing quotes. Thank you so much for sharing it. Made my day and my year 2014. :)

smseeger
smseeger

Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up--Brene Brown