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25 All-Time Best Inspirational Sports Quotes To Get You Going

25 All-Time Best Inspirational Sports Quotes To Get You Going

We often use sports as a metaphor for life. Overall, sports often package life’s lessons into neat 60-minute games or into perfect soundbites that summarize to achieve at a high level. For this reason, we sifted over the glories of all sports, seeking to find a few uber-inspirational sports quotes.

1. “I don’t count my situps. I only start counting once it starts hurting. ” -Muhammad Ali

    Muhammad Ali, the inventor of the modern overconfident athlete persona and multiple time world boxing champion, has many quotes that could have made this list, but we thought we’d get him out of the way early.

    2.  “Cancer can take away all my physical abilities. It cannot touch my mind, it cannot touch my heart and it cannot touch my soul. And those three things are going to carry on forever.” – Jimmy Valvano

      The speech Jimmy Valvano gave at the 1993 ESPY awards is choked full of wisdom and tightly-packed emotion, and it was hard to pick just one phrase from it. In it, legendary NC State basketball coach Jim Valvano is given the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, with everyone in the room knowing that he was going to die within a few weeks. It’s worth a watch.

      3. “I’ve failed over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

        The world-renowed basketball player Michael Jordan is always thought of as the victor, the one who took the shot no one else could make, the one who transformed the game. In these simple lines quantifying his failures, Jordan shows that getting to success is never easy, and that the failures are what make us who we are.

        4. “The only way to prove you are a good sport is to lose.” – Ernie Banks

          No one knows enthusiasm and integrity better than Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks. A Hall Of Fame Shortstop, Banks knew about losing, playing mostly for terrible Cubs teams.

          5. “There may be people that have more talent than you, but there’s no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.” – Derek Jeter

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            Recently retired First-Ballot-Hall-of-Fame shortstop accomplished a lot in his career with the New York Yankees, and was widely thought of as a class act. Jeter was a player’s player, a hard worker, and here he shows what got him there: hard work.

            6. “If you fail to prepare, you’re prepared to fail.” – Mark Spitz

              Nine-time Olympic champion Mark Spitz was an amazing swimmer, and nothing got him to where he wanted to be more than preparing. Spitz records stood until Michael Phelps broke them recently, so I’d say he has room to talk about preparation.

              7. “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.” – John Madden

                John Madden may be known for being a broadcaster and owner of a popular video game franchise, but before that, he coached the Oakland Raiders to two Superbowl Championship. In this, Madden shows how it wasn’t easy to get where he ended up.

                8. “Stubbornness usually is considered a negative; but I think that trait has been a positive for me.”- Cal Ripken, Jr.

                  Cal Ripken Jr. holds the streak in baseball, for most consecutive games played, with 2,632 games over the course of more than 16 years. You can see how he may consider himself stubborn, as he just trotted out there, every day, for more than a decade and a half.

                  9. “To uncover your true potential you must first find your own limits and then you have to have the courage to blow past them.” – Picabo Street

                    Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street, as an alpine skier, blew past her limits pretty consistently. Whizzing down a mountain at high speeds does take courage, and so does achieving your goals.

                    10. “Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.” -Mike Singletary

                      During his Hall-Of-Fame career with the Chicago Bears, Mike Singletary was known for his tenacity and his eyes. This must have been the result of a child-like vigor that he brought every day.

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                      11.“Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way.” – Satchel Paige

                        Legendary Negro League pitcher Satchel Paige was big on creativity and perseverance. Sometimes thought of as one of the greatest pitchers to ever live, Paige would never quit, and never let his emotions take over.

                        12. “It is not the size of a man but the size of his heart that matters.” – Evander Holyfield

                          World Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Evander Holyfield knows a lot about fighting and the heart. He was the man who had his ear bit off by Mike Tyson, and was at one point the undisputed world boxing champion.

                          13. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

                            The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, was widely regarded as the best hockey player to ever play the game. In his best season, he had in average more than one goal per game, and was a four-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Edmonton Oilers. He never saw a shot he didn’t like.

                            14. “Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength.” – Phil Jackson

                              Hall-of-Fame NBA Coach Phil Jackson won a total of eleven (!!!) championships during his coaching career: six with the Chicago Bulls and then five more with the Los Angeles LAkers, which complimented two he had as a player with the Knicks. He worked with the aforementioned Jordan, as well as with Shaquille O’Neill, with Kobe Bryant, with many others, such as Scottie Pippen.

                              The man knows how to win, and, if he says wisdom is more vital than strength, you better listen.

                              15. “It’s not whether you get knocked down; it’s whether you get up.” – Vince Lombardi

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                                Vince Lombardi is the man the Super Bowl Trophy is named after. He was a legendary coach with the Green Bay Packers, and won the first two SuperBowls. Full of hard-nosed wisdom, Lombardi’s quote is one to live by.

                                16. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” – Tim Notke

                                  Tim Notke, a high school basketball coach, said this in a motivational speech to his players to encourage them to work hard in order to be the best.

                                  17. “Never say never because limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.” – Michael Jordan

                                    Michael Jordan is an American retired professional basketball player. He was said to be too short to be signed by Adidas, but with his hard work and persistence, he is now said to be “the greatest basketball player of all time”.

                                    18. “Good is not good when better is expected.” – Vin Scully

                                      Vin Scully is an American retired sportscaster. He has seen lots of good and great players and so he knows everyone has room to improve all the time.

                                      19. “Without self-discipline, success is impossible, period.” – Lou Holtz

                                        Lou Holtz is a former American football player, coach, and analyst. He is the only college football coach to lead six different programs to bowl games and guide four different programs to the final top 20 rankings.

                                        20. “It’s not the will to win that matters — everyone has that. It’s the will to prepare to win that matters.” – Paul “Bear” Bryant

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                                          Paul “Bear” Bryant was an American college football player and coach. He was best known as the head coach of the University of Alabama football team. He set a record (later broken) for more games won than any other collegiate coach.

                                          21. “A trophy carries dust. Memories last forever.” – Mary Lou Retton

                                            Mary Lou Retton Kelley is a retired American gymnast. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, she won a gold medal in the individual all-around competition, as well as two silver medals and two bronze medals. But to her, the process of doing the sports still matters more.

                                            22. “Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.” – Dean Karnazes

                                              Being hailed as one of the fittest men on the planet, Dean Karnazes can run for three days and nights without stopping. His persistence is definitely the key to his success.

                                              23. “What makes something special is not just what you have to gain, but what you feel there is to lose.” – Andre Agassi

                                                Andre Agassi is an American retired professional tennis player and former world No. 1 player. This is how he motivated himself to keep going and keep winning.

                                                24. “You win a few, you lose a few. Some get rained out. But you got to dress for all of them.” – Satchel Paige

                                                  Once again, Satchel Paige’s wise words have taught us to face failures positively.

                                                  25. “Never give up! Failure and rejection are only the first step to succeeding.” – Jim Valvano

                                                    Last but not least, here we have Jim Valvano again, who had an excellent coaching career at multiple teams. He always encouraged his teams to never give up, no matter how hard it might be.

                                                    Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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                                                    Last Updated on April 6, 2020

                                                    10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

                                                    10 Powerful Ways to Influence People Positively

                                                    Most discussions on positively influencing others eventually touch on Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People. Written more than 83 years ago, the book touches on a core component of human interaction, building strong relationships. It is no wonder why.

                                                    Everything that we do hinges on our ability to connect with others and formulate deep relationships. You cannot sell a house, buy a house, advance in most careers, sell a product, pitch a story, teach a course, etc. without building healthy relationships. Managers get the best results from their teams, not through brute force, but to careful appeals to their sensibilities, occasional withdrawals from the reservoir of respect they’ve built. Using these tactics, they can influence others to excellence, to productivity, and to success.

                                                    Carnegie’s book is great. Of course, there are other resources too. Most of us have someone in our lives who positively influences us. The truth is positively influencing people is about centering the humanity of others. Chances are, you know someone who is really good at making others feel like stars. They can get you to do things that the average person cannot. Where the requests of others sound like fingernails on a chalkboard, the request from this special person sounds like music to your ears. You’re delighted to not only listen but also to oblige.

                                                    So how to influence people in a positive way? Read on for tips.

                                                    1. Be Authentic

                                                    To influence people in a positive way, be authentic. Rather than being a carbon copy of someone else’s version of authenticity, uncover what it is that makes you unique.

                                                    Discover your unique take on an issue and then live up to and honor that. Once of the reasons social media influencers are so powerful is that they have carved out a niche for themselves or taken a common issue and approached it from a novel or uncommon way. People instinctually appreciate people whose public persona matches their private values.

                                                    Contradictions bother us because we crave stability. When someone professes to be one way, but lives contrary to that profession, it signals that they are confused or untrustworthy and thereby, inauthentic. Neither of these combinations bode well for positively influencing others.

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                                                    2. Listen

                                                    Growing up, my father would tell me to listen to what others said. He told me if I listened carefully, I would know all I needed to know about a person’s character, desires and needs.

                                                    To positively influence others, you must listen to what is spoken and what is left unsaid. Therein lies the explanation for what people need in order to feel validated, supported and seen. If a person feels they are invisible, and unseen by their superiors, they are less likely to be positively influenced by that person.

                                                    Listening meets a person’s primary need of validation and acceptance.

                                                    Take a look at this guide on how to be a better listener: How to Practice Active Listening (A Step-By-Step Guide)

                                                    3. Become an Expert

                                                    Most people are predisposed to listen to, if not respect, authority. If you want to positively influence others, become an authority in the area in which you seek to lead others. Research and read everything you can about the given topic, and then look for opportunities to put your education into practice.

                                                    You can argue over opinions. You cannot argue, or it is unwise to argue, over facts and experts come with facts.

                                                    4. Lead with Story

                                                    From years of working in the public relations space, I know that personal narratives, testimonials and impact stories are incredibly powerful. But I never cease to be amazed with how effective a well-timed and told story can be.

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                                                    If you want to influence people, learn to tell stories. Your stories should be related to the issue or concept you are discussing. They should be an analogy or metaphor that explains your topic in ordinary terms and in vivid detail. To learn more about how to tell powerful stories, and the ethics of storytelling, take a look at this article: How To Tell An Interesting Story In 4 Simple Steps

                                                    5. Lead by Example

                                                    It is incredibly inspiring to watch passionate, talented people at work or play. One of the reasons a person who is not an athlete can be in awe of athletic prowess is because human nature appreciates the extraordinary. When we watch the Olympics, Olympic trials, gymnastic competitions, ice skating, and other competitive sports, we can recognize the effort of people who day in and day out give their all. C

                                                    ase in point: Simone Biles. The gymnast extraordinaire won her 6TH all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships after doing a triple double. She was the first woman to do so. Watching her gave me chills. Even non-gymnasts and non-competitive athletes can appreciate the talent required to pull off such a remarkable feat.

                                                    We celebrate remarkable accomplishments and believe that their example is proof that we too can accomplish something great, even if it isn’t qualifying for the Olympics. To influence people in a positive way, we must lead by example, lead with intention and execute with excellence.

                                                    6. Catch People Doing Good

                                                    A powerful way to influence people in a positive way is to catch people doing good. Instead of looking for problems, look for successes. Look for often overlooked, but critically important things that your peers, subordinates and managers do that make the work more effective and more enjoyable.

                                                    Once you catch people doing good, name and notice their contributions.

                                                    7. Be Effusive with Praise

                                                    It did not take me long to notice a remarkable trait of a former boss. He not only began and ended meetings with praise, but he peppered praise throughout the entire meeting. He found a way to celebrate the unique attributes and skills of his team members. He was able to quickly and accurately assess what people were doing well and then let them and their colleagues know.

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                                                    Meetings were not just an occasion to go through a “To Do” list, they were opportunities to celebrate accomplishments, no matter how small they are.

                                                    8. Be Kind Rather Than Right

                                                    I am going to level with you; this one is tough. It is easy to get caught up in a cycle of proving oneself. For people who lack confidence, or people who prioritize the opinions of others, being right is important. The validation that comes with being perceived as “right” feeds one’s ego. But in the quest to be “right,” we can hurt other people. Once we’ve hurt someone by being unkind, it is much harder to get them to listen to what we’re trying to influence them to do.

                                                    The antidote to influencing others via bullying is to prioritize kindness above rightness. You can be kind and still stand firm in your position. For instance, many people think that they need others to validate their experience. If a person does not see the situation you experienced in the way you see it, you get upset. But your experience is your experience.

                                                    If you and your friends go out to eat and you get food poisoning, you do not need your friends to agree that the food served at the restaurant was problematic for you. Your own experience of getting food poisoning is all the validation you need. Therefore, taking time to be right is essentially wasted and, if you were unkind in seeking validation for your food-poison experience, now you’ve really lost points.

                                                    9. Understand a Person’s Logical, Emotional and Cooperative Needs

                                                    The Center for Creative Leadership has argued that the best way to influence others is to appeal to their logical, emotional and cooperative needs. Their logical need is their rational and educational need. Their emotional need is the information that touches them in a deeply personal manner. The cooperative need is understanding the level of cooperation various individuals need and then appropriately offering it.

                                                    The trick with this system is to understand that different people need different things. For some people, a strong emotional appeal will outweigh logical explanations. For others, having an opportunity to collaborate will override emotional connection.

                                                    If you know your audience, you will know what they need in order to be positively influenced. If you have limited information about the people whom you are attempting to influence, you will be ineffective.

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                                                    10. Understand Your Lane

                                                    If you want to positively influence others, operate from your sphere of influence. Operate from your place of expertise. Leave everything else to others. Gone are the days when being a jack of all trades is celebrated.

                                                    Most people appreciate brands that understand their target audience and then deliver on what that audience wants. When you focus on what you are uniquely gifted and qualified to do, and then offer that gift to the people who need it, you are likely more effective. This effectiveness is attractive.

                                                    You cannot positively influence others if you are more preoccupied by what others do well versus what you do well.

                                                    Final Thoughts

                                                    Influencing people is about centering your humanity. If you want to influence others positively, focus on the way you communicate and improve the relationship with yourself first.

                                                    It’s hard to influence others if you’re still trying to figure out how to communicate with yourself.

                                                    More Tips About Making Influence

                                                    Featured photo credit: Wonderlane via unsplash.com

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