Walk into most organizations and you're likely to find profound quotes displayed somewhere in the building--on a motivational poster, hanging above someone's desk, or even on a coffee mug. Peruse through business-media outlets like Inc., and you'll surely find articles that include inspiring quotes from iconic leaders.
Without doubt, words have a unique power to inspire and motivate us. In reality, they can almost elevate our minds to a state of optimistic nirvana. In fact, cognitive scientists from Lafayette College discovered that when people were shown two different versions of the contextually same saying, they were more likely to deem rhyming versions fo the saying to be true. That's cool. Still, I was thinking the other day, "How do we apply some of the most brilliant quotes to our work and everyday lives?"
I recall sitting in a small restaurant in Jackson Hole, Wyoming a few years back. It was pitch black outside, except for the massive white snowflakes that slowly drifted toward the ground. I was meeting acclaimed psychotherapist Dr. Kevin Fleming, Founder of Grey Matters International.
We talked about the psychology of motivation, how the human brain is wired to want to be inspired. "Our brains love being wound up on motivation," Dr. Fleming said. "But that can be dangerous because that euphoria can make us overlook some of the things we don't want see--like the full truth."
The former clinical psychologist, now psychotherapist to the business world's elite, specializes in working with many top C-Level executives, celebrities, and business icons. "Inspirational quotes can be powerful motivators," he added. "And we can hang on motivation for years--because it makes us feel good. But we can also get lost in that feeling of being motivated, and never actually accomplish anything."
I've thought about that conversation ever since that cold, snowy night in Jackson Hole. It made me look at motivational quotes from a different perspective. And yet, ironically it was a quote from Dr. Fleming that has been forever burned in my psyche, when he said, "In the workplace, and in life, so many people are trying to just feel right--when they should be focused on being true."
Those are words of wisdom--whether you're in an argument with your significant other, or a disagreement with your boss, ask yourself if you're trying to be right, or living in truth? Look at the bigger picture.
So, how do you turn those inspiring quotes and motivational sayings into action? Here are five of my favorite sayings and quotations, with five ways to turn them into action items.
1. "By behaving in ways that build trust with one, you build trust with many." - Stephen M.R. Covey, Author of The Speed of Trust
This quote isn't as simple as just setting an example. Trust is a delicate thing. And gaining real trust means you truly have someone's back. When people see that you can be trusted by others they're more likely to believe they can trust you. Turn this quote into action by trying to strengthen the trust you've already built with people. When you do, your circle of trusted friends and colleagues will slowly begin to expand.
2. "Beyond money, beyond income, beyond opportunities, becoming self made starts with choosing yourself." - Nely Galan, Author of Self Made
This quote might at first sound like pure inspiration. You might think, "Yeah, I understand I need to love and respect myself." But I don't comprehend it that simply. Nely is saying that we actually need to believe in ourselves--understanding that we're the only people that can truly dictate our own future. Turn this into an action item by creating a situation in your life where you don't need anyone else's permission to make something happen.
3. "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." - Dalai Lama
There's a lot of negative energy in the world today. It's easy for all of us to take sides and find arguments with others. Turn this quote into action. Give a little more love. Practice a little more compassion. See what happens. The ripple effect will be much bigger than you ever imagined.
4. "Life is too short to not make yourself the best possible leader you can be." - David Novak, Founder and Former CEO of YUM! Brands
Leadership isn't a title. It's a mindset. It means you're committed to helping someone else become the best version of themselves--by being a role model or through guidance. Take action on this quote by looking around at the people who may need your help. Leading just means you're trying to help them become better.
5. "You cannot manage attitudes, but you can influence them." - Me, Author of Appreciate
If there's one thing I've learned in life that has had a profound impact on every single relationship I have, it's this: none of us truly control anyone else. The only tool we truly have is influence. And, if the influence we have is derived from power, money, fear, or manipulation, instead of caring and kindness, we won't have influence for very long.
Inspiration is a good thing. It is. But, we must understand that it's meaningless unless we create an action plan to apply inspiration and motivation to our lives and work.
"Words can be beautiful," says Dr. Fleming. "They can create brain chemistry that winds us up inside. But, that's all motivation and inspiration are until we apply them through action. At some point, the work needs to be done. The steps need to be taken. And we need to understand the full truth--that the road ahead isn't easy."