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50 Inspiring Leadership Quotes from the Greatest Leaders of All Time

50 Inspiring Leadership Quotes from the Greatest Leaders of All Time

Leaders come in all shapes and sizes but they will often have a number of similar qualities that have ultimately helped them to reach the pinnacle of their career.

There are a number of things that we can then learn from them if we study the way in which they act or things they say. After all, what better way to attempt to overcome our own problems or issues by listening to those that have achieved something?

So, what we have done is sought to produce a list of 50 quotes from the greatest leaders that have ever lived that we hope will inspire. Our aim is to provide you with something that you can relate to when things are tough.

“Don’t find the fault, find the remedy” — Henry Ford

Henry Ford is responsible for the mass explosion of the automobile changing the way in which we travel forever. In this, he is stating how it is useless to focus on what has gone wrong. Instead, we must look forward to determine how we can either resolve the issue or how to proceed in life. Focusing on the problem means we stay stuck.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” — John F. Kennedy

In order to become a leader, you must have a willingness to learn. This means learn from your mistakes as well as dealing with problems. Being unwilling to adapt leads to mistakes and your leadership will then come under scrutiny.

“Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” — Steve Jobs

A strong leader is one who can take a problem or issue and create solutions. A failure to do this means you are the follower who takes the orders and carries out the actions. If you feel that your mind is creative, then you are tailor-made for becoming a leader.

“A leader is a dealer in hope.” — Napoleon Bonaparte

A leader is the one that provides those that listen to them with a sense that anything is possible. They can help people to lift their head when times are tough and see that all is not as bad as they fear.

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Nobody else is going to make the changes for you. It all rests on your shoulders. Your vision of the world around you is unique to you, so the only person capable of altering things has to be the only person with that vision.

“If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulder of giants.” — Isaac Newton

Your vision for the future or ability to achieve amazing things is built on you using what has gone before you. By taking those achievements as your foundation, your own ability to do better will then become easier.

“Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.” — Albert Einstein

Your ability to think for yourself mixed with the freedom that comes with that is something that you should use on a daily basis.

Don’t be afraid to break free from the norm if that is what your mind is telling you to do rather than follow along the same path as everyone else.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” — Helen Keller

An individual that is aware that they cannot do something all on their own is one that is in a stronger position than most.

The stress associated with tackling things in this way is too great for any individual to bear and you will achieve so much more by welcoming others into the fray.

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“The only safe ship in a storm is leadership.” — Faye Wattleton

Your strength can shine through when times are tough as that is where a leader comes into their own.

You can unlock that inner strength that you may not have even known that you had during a crisis, and the safety that you can give to others means so much when you have a calm head.

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

The only way in which you will make progress in life when you come up against an obstacle is to be willing to go down a new path and to have the confidence that you will get to the other side.

Doing the same thing over and over again will only lead to the same results.

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama

If we hang around for something to happen due to someone else, then we will wait for a long time.

The only person you can truly rely on is yourself.[1] If you find yourself in a position where you are frustrated at the lack of action, then look to yourself for the solution.

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” — Warren Buffett

A good leader will plan ahead and predict potential problems long before they occur. This could mean providing your team with rest and relaxation with slumber search so they feel motivated and energized to perform.

By doing this, it means the future is smoother than it would have otherwise been while also limiting the possibility of things going wrong.

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

No matter the size of the task before you, it will never get done unless you take that all important first step.

By merely putting one foot in front of the other, you will make a difference no matter the length of the road ahead of you. However, fail to take that step and you will remain where you are.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou

Those inner feelings that we experience are the strongest things of all. Your ability to influence the way that people feel about you lies at the heart of your leadership.

Make them feel good and you will always be viewed in a better light.

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

With the heart being linked to the way in which we feel our emotions, it is better to focus on that area when dealing with others.

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In doing so, you can touch them more deeply than would have otherwise been possible.

“We don’t build services to make money; we make money to build better services.” — Mark Zuckerberg

Focus on what is important in order to further yourself. Plan how you can achieve those things in advance rather than attempting to deal with it all as it happens.

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison

Repetition is key. A failure is merely a way of discovering that the initial plan was not as good as you hoped. A strong individual will then seek an alternative option and keep on going until they get to where they want to be.

“The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” — Steve Jobs

Your passion for something will always come across in what you do. That passion cannot be masked or faked. If you do not have that emotion, then you are doing the wrong thing and working in the wrong areas.

“Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.” — Buddha

Devotion to what you are doing and putting your heart and soul into it generates results. Anything that fails to include all of that will be half-hearted and is more likely to lead to failure.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” — Leo Tolstoy

We are guilty of looking externally to try to resolve our internal problems. We believe that the answers lie elsewhere when, in actual fact, it is often deep inside us where resolutions have to be found.

“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: We did it ourselves.” — Lao Tzu

The best leader is not one that bears down over everyone. Instead, they provide more of a guiding hand while also offering a sense of free-will.

“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.” — Napoleon Hill

You must trust your own thoughts and beliefs. If you are capable of coming up with them, then you are capable of achieving them. Our own mind and thoughts will often be our biggest enemy, but only if we allow them.

“Be willing to be uncomfortable. Be comfortable being uncomfortable. It may get tough, but it’s a small price to pay for living a dream.” — Peter McWilliams

You will never make progress if you refuse to move out of your comfort zone in any way.

Being uncomfortable will push us into taking action that will propel us forward even if it’s to get us out of a particular situation.

“Mountaintops inspire leaders but valleys mature them.” — Winston Churchill

The only way in which you can achieve the heights of being on top of the mountain is by working your way through the strong foundations that lie at the foot.

No mountain is complete without a valley before it, and without it the mountain would never exist.

“Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.” — Albert Einstein

We are guilty of thinking that success if everything. Being of value in some way is better as it means you are providing something to others rather than purely being all about your own self.

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“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Our own thoughts are guilty of tripping us up more than anything else.

If you work hard at believing that you can achieve something, then all that is required is to do the actions to reach your desired target. Fail to even imagine it and you will always get nowhere.

“Our destiny is not written for us, but by us.” — Barack Obama

We are the only ones that can take control of our destiny. Nobody else will do it for us. If you want to achieve your dreams, then it rests on your shoulders.

“Inventories can be managed, but people must be led.” — H. Ross Perot

People require that sense of guidance to get anywhere. A leader is the one that is able to offer this while also being capable of guiding their own self to their own destination. This means your team must be managed carefully. In business this can take many forms.

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” — John D. Rockefeller

Being quite happy with what you have will prevent you from moving into a world where everything is better. A willingness to push forward will be rewarded whereas accepting your lot will result in you becoming stuck in life.

“Time is neutral and does not change things. With courage and initiative, leaders change things.” — Jesse Jackson

Just waiting and hoping that something will happen will lead to nothing. Those that take the ball and run with it are the only ones that can change the world, and it is those individuals that become the leaders.

“Leadership is a mindset in action. So don’t wait for the title. Leadership isn’t something that anyone can give you – you have to earn it and claim it for yourself.” — Travis Bradberry

Once again this quote stresses the need for action to be taken rather than hoping that something will come your way. The great leaders had to fight and scrape to get to their pinnacle, and you have to be willing to do the same.

“It’s not about money or connections – it’s the willingness to outwork and outlearn everyone.” — Mark Cuban

You must have that constant desire to better yourself in life in order to get anywhere. External things may play a part, but it has to come from within you and to have that desire to make a difference for the right things to then occur.

“The task of the leader is to get their people from where they are to where they have not been.” — Henry Kissinger

The ability to guide others into new areas and to have the confidence to tackle whatever faces them is essential for any leader. We all have to encounter fear at some point, but it’s what we do with that fear that will prove to be the most important thing of all.

“It’s your unlimited power to create and to love that can make the biggest difference in the quality of your life.” — Tony Robbins

We have undiscovered strengths deep inside our inner core. Our main difficulty is in managing to unleash them and to put them to good use. Our continual desire to look at our own self to make a difference is the thing that can propel us forward.

“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi

Give up on the idea of perfection as that adds stress with something that we cannot achieve. We need to lower our sights from the impossible to the possible and to then make sure that we hit those targets instead.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” — Henry Ford

No matter how tough a situation may be, there is always a way around it. The way in which the airplane takes off against the wind means it has to work harder to achieve its aim, and that is the exact same as you.

“When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back, and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” — Michelle Obama

There is a real sense of having to be grateful to others for what you have achieved. Also, a strong individual will have a desire to help others to achieve after them as that is the way in which the world operates.

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“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” — Theodore Roosevelt

Knowing when to help and when to adopt the hands-off approach is important and a sign of a good leader. The desire to meddle can overpower people, so your ability to refrain from doing this is important.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” — Henry Ford

If you work as a team and share responsibilities for anything in life, then you can achieve amazing things.

However, if all are not pulling in the same direction, it will then slow progress down and lead to additional problems that could have been avoided.

“When people talk, listen completely.” — Ernest Hemingway

You never know what you may learn from others or when that will happen. Believing that someone has nothing to offer you is wrong and the only way to discover this is to give full attention to everyone.

“Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” — Richard Branson

Poor communication means an inability to get your point across in the correct manner. The problems that can then arise will often become too difficult to comprehend, and it would never have happened if you had the skill of communication.

“I suppose leadership at one time meant muscles; but today it means getting along with people.” — Mahatma Gandhi

The ability to manage others cannot be overlooked. In the past, a leader was in charge of an army and had to be physically strong. Now, the strength is in people management, and if you are lacking in this area, then you ability to lead is compromised

“My jobs as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact.” — Larry Page

Everyone must feel as if they are part of the same team. They must also believe that what they are doing is making a difference and they are capable of making an impact. Individuals feeling lost will lead to problems, so you must address this before it’s too late.

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” — Michael Jordan

Teamwork is at the root of success. Knowing who you can rely on at various times makes the entire process so much smoother as is knowing when to use their skills to gain the best possible results.

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play it better than anyone else.” — Albert Einstein

The only way to become the best is to know every aspect of the game and to then understand how to possibly get any advantage. A failure to know the rules leads to problems and mistakes.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” — Charles Darwin

An inability to change will lead to no progress being made. A reluctance to accept that the old way of doing things may not have worked shows intelligence and that you aren’t stubborn. Adaptation leads to progress while rigidity means the opposite.

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.” — Lao Tzu

Accept that things change no matter how much you don’t want them to. This inability to prevent it has to be understood to allow you to make progress in life.

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it.” — Andrew Carnegie

A willingness to share responsibilities and achievements are the best attributes for a leader to have. Passing praise onto others leads to them feeling better about things rather than merely being a pawn in a game.

“A leader is not an administrator who loves to run others, but someone who carries water for his people so that they can get on with their jobs.” — Robert Townsend

A good leader provides people with the impetus to achieve things. They provide them with the correct tools to get to where they want to be. They help them to get there rather than focusing on their own individual selves and by doing so they will also vastly improve their own life.

More Resources About Leadership

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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Chris Porteous

The CEO of Grey Smoke Media / My SEO Sucks, helping entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

How to Be More Self-Assured and Get More Done During the Week

Time is a great leveler isn’t it? We all have the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you’re self-assured, the day may never feel quite long enough.

Why is it that some people can be so much more productive and achieve so much more in a typical day, while others struggle to achieve anything apart from feeling time crunched and overwhelmed?

Everyone I know and work with wants to make the best use of their time. They want to learn how to be more self-assured, happier, and work less—all while growing in their career.

How effectively we use our time—and how we actually work in our business—can make a huge difference to the amount we accomplish in a day or week. It can also make us more focused and more confident.

Do you want to have more thinking and creative time? Do you want to spend more time working on your business rather than working at or in your business? In this article, we’ll show you how.

Get More Done by Gaining Confidence

What if you had a strategy for making the best use of your time that brings you more joy and allows you to focus on the biggest activities and opportunities in your business? You may find the following outline below to be helpful:

1. Create an Exciting Vision

If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you know when you get there?

You want to be more productive and spend more time getting the right stuff done. Well, you need to create a compelling and exciting vision of your future.

What does this future look like? How will you feel when you get there?

Creating a new vision, especially one that is a lot bigger than where you are right now, has a way of igniting your passion. It may be something that feels hard to achieve, but every step you take towards that bigger vision will certainly build your confidence.

Create a vision board to feel more self-assured.

    Commitment to this vision, and accomplishing continual daily progress depends on your ability to look at any situation you’re faced with or currently in, feel self-assured, and see something bigger ahead.

    Also, when you know where you’re headed, you will instinctively start to see all the new opportunities and connections that will get you there.

    Make a vision map to get you started on the path to better productivity. This doesn’t have to be fully actualized, but you should know at least what direction you are heading.

    2. Build a Strategic Plan

    Once you have your future vision mapped out, the next step is to build a strategic plan to get you there.

    Your future vision may be for 3 years or 5 years, or you may choose a longer time frame. Any timeframe over 3 years may feel like a long way away.

    You may wonder how you are ever going to feel confident and motivated on this bigger future years from now when you feel as though you have so much to accomplish today.

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    The first step is to decide on some specific goals for the next 12 months. Don’t list too many or you may begin to feel overwhelmed.

    The magic number for me and my clients is usually five annual goals.

    These are big goals that will create massive change in your business and life and bridge your current situation to your bigger future; accomplishing these goals one by one will help to increase your confidence on a daily basis.

    3. Get on Goal Planning

    Get yourself a piece of blank paper and a pen and divide the paper into 4 columns: A, B, C, and D.

    Ask yourself the question: What is great in my business and life right now? Write these things down in Column A. This might be a couple of things, five things, ten things, whatever feels right to you.

    Then ask yourself: What things are happening right now that I don’t want in my future? Write these things down in Column B.

    This is your opportunity to take a step back and look at the things that are simply not working. You may list people that are bringing you down or projects that you don’t want to work on any more. Maybe you’ll include a service offering that’s going nowhere. It could be the people you’re working with, or it could be your pricing.

    Now, let’s look at your personal strengths. Write down everything that you’re great at in Column C.

    These could be things that you’re doing right now and having success with. It could also be things you know you’re awesome at but you’re not spending enough time on.

    Column D is for your biggest opportunities. Is there a new service/product you could offer your ideal customers? Is there a new innovation you could bring to market? Just take some time out and really think and list these things in Column D.

    Once you’ve analyzed everything you’ve written down, take some time to really think about what goals you want to set for your business and life in the next 12 months.

    4. Set Outcomes to Build Confidence

    You now have your goals, and you’ll feel self-assured and raring to go. They are written down and you’re committed to achieving them. You feel self-assured and motivated.

    But how do you ensure that you stay on the correct course to achieve these goals?

    Managing and juggling day-to-day projects can get in the way. Dealing with problems can get in the way. Staying on top of orders, managing cash flow, and handling day-to-day stuff can move your ship off course.

    You want to be productive and achieve your goals, but you also need to ensure the day and week runs smoothly.

    One way to ensure this happens is to set 90 Day Outcome Goals; within those Outcome Goals, put some specific process goals that need to be undertaken.

    Let’s say you want to get 10 more speaking jobs in the next 90 days, and you know that you typically convert 50% of opportunities.

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    Therefore, your process goal needs to be to have 20 conversations in the next 90 Days to deliver the 10 new pieces of work. You will then work out who you can have those conversations with.

    It’s smart to overshoot, so you will more easily hit your target. This is a clear plan to work through because with every win, your confidence will grow.

    5. Completely Commit to Your Success

    If you are not truly committed to achieving your goals, then chances are that you won’t reach them.

    Motivation can only take you so far. It is the intentional commitment[1] and emotional investment in your future success that will move you forward.

    Think back to any time that you really committed to achieving something. There must have been a reason you actually achieved what you set out to achieve. What motivated you?

    Were you fully invested? Why did it matter? Did you have to be really courageous to achieve it?

    How did it feel when you achieved it? What difference did it make?

    When have you felt truly self-assured? When you are committed to something, then you are propelled into action. Your mindset is focused, and your body follows; you want to get it done.

    And, when you do get it done, your confidence goes through the roof. You feel a level of certainty in achieving the goal you set out to accomplish.

    6. Focus on Your Strengths

    To feel self-assured and build up the confidence needed to achieve our biggest goals, we need to focus on our strengths.

    What are you best at? What are your unique skills? You want to spend as much time as you can working in the areas that you’re great at.

    Multiply your strengths. These areas are where you add the biggest value. They often bring you the biggest amount of joy, and you feel more and more confident when you are using your unique skills.

    If you think there is a specific capability you need to learn or be better at, spend more focused time in that area.

    Many of us want to do it all. We want to be good at everything. We want to offer a lot of services. But, in reality, there are some very specific things we are great at; nobody is good at everything!

    Spending more time adding value in the areas where you excel can create breakthrough results and boost confidence.

    7. Embrace the Present

    Sometimes we spend so much time thinking about the future or worrying about the past that we forget the present moment[2].

    Are you spending most of your day reacting to things, or have you taken the time to think about what your perfect day looks like?

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    We all have the opportunity to create rather than react, to decide what we do with our day. All of our future success can be created in the present moment if we just take a step back and take action.

    Sometimes, doing it now is more important than doing it perfectly. There are hidden opportunities in every moment. We need to make sure we don’t miss them if we want to feel self-assured.

    8. Calm the Whirlwind

    The day-to-day life in business and life can be hard, which leads us to feel less self-assured.

    Your mind may be full to bursting with all of the things you feel you have to do. The phrase “I don’t have time” has almost become an instant reaction by so many people when new opportunities are presented.

    There is a whirlwind happening inside our minds.

    Appointments, notifications, tasks, phone calls, errands, cash flow, staffing issues, networking, marketing all can clutter up our timeline. The sheer volume of things we feel we should do creates procrastination, stopping us from pursuing the projects and people that matter.

    Many of us feel we have to do everything within our business.

    Rather than simplifying things and doing less, we do more. We work longer, which creates a lack of energy and focus. Because of this, we lose clarity on our biggest opportunities. If you feel this way, take some well-deserved time off.

    Look at where you’re spending your time. How much of your time is being spent moving your ideas forward?

    In the next 90 days, if you could delegate or outsource more daily tasks and spend more time focusing on where you add the biggest value, what difference would it make?

    Calm the whirlwind by slowing down and doing less.

    Focus on areas that you add the biggest amount of value. By doing this, your energy levels will increase, your confidence will grow and you will have more success.

    9. Take More Time off

    This may seem counterintuitive, but taking more time off to recharge and refocus can pay huge dividends.

    If you are constantly fighting fires and caught up in the myriad of different activities that you have to do each day, then how can you move your business forward?

    You may be being pulled in difference directions without any focused time on your biggest projects. If that’s the case, then it’s almost impossible to gain any real momentum in moving your business forward and hitting your goals.

    The best way to get off that treadmill is to take more creative time out of the business.

    Could you realistically take one day off per month to work on your business? If you could, what would you do with this time?

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    Just imagine no distractions, only focused time on the strategic development and growth of your business.

    Every day off per month could have a different focus: New product innovation; Thinking about your biggest clients; Improving operations.

    Add to this a quarterly review to check in with your goals progress, and this could have a dramatic effect on where you spend your valuable time.

    10. Celebrate Wins

    Sometimes you just want to get through the day, right?

    You have so much to do. There are so many things on your task list that you just complete what you can and then start another day. But what would happen if, at the end of each day, you took some time out to look at what you’ve accomplished?

    Celebrating success keeps you motivated and helps you become more self-assured. It is not just another day. It’s a day that included things that should be celebrated.

    If you’re struggling to feel motivated, try celebrating a couple of wins each day.

    Celebrating success combined with the gratitude you have for achieving those wins will boost your confidence and inspire you for the next day.

    11. Give Yourself More Space

    When was the last time you gave yourself time to think?

    Within the hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to give yourself a little bit of space and time to just think[3].

    Imagine giving yourself just an hour a day to just let your mind wander or think about a specific thing.

    If you think about it, we can all free up an hour a day for something without really losing any efficiency or really impacting our business.

    In fact, that hour could be transformational for your business and life.

    A new idea for a product could form, or an idea for adding value to your existing clients could materialize. Perhaps you could do a check in to your ideal future and your goals. You could decide that you want to take your business in a new direction.

    Try this: Just sit alone for an hour with a notebook and let it be your creative thinking time. See what happens.

    Final Thoughts

    Ultimately, being self-assured happens when you have a clear direction.

    This, coupled with having clear goals and working in your unique skill-set, gives you the biggest opportunity to be more productive and get more of the right things done.

    The old mantra that “less is more” is right on the money. By giving yourself more time to work on your goals, you will inevitably increase your confidence; at this point, your ideal future can be anything you want it to be.

    More on How to Be Self-Assured

    Featured photo credit: Nathan Dumlao via unsplash.com

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