Editor’s Note: UPDATED as of October 9, 2016 for relevance and accuracy.
We asked around. We looked all over.
We found success. We found pain. We found trouble. We found solutions. We found perseverance. Grit. Joy. Love. Attention. Focus. Drive. Fun.
We asked people a simple question: what was the best piece of motivational advice you’ve ever received?
This is what we found…
35 Amazing Pieces of Motivational Advice from CEOs, Moms, Fathers, Entrepreneurs, Employees, Sons, Daughters and Everyone In Between
“Work until you no longer need to introduce yourself.” Work is what will make you successful and allow you to help others. Keep your eye on your goal and eliminate the activities that:1. Keep you from it, or 2. Don’t move you toward it.” – Beecher Bowers
“You can do anything you want in life. No one can stop you, no one can distract you, no one can interrupt you, except YOU! Chase your dreams and never give up, because eventually something has to give. Don’t get discouraged when you have defeats. If you keep pushing, you will soon get pulled. So don’t give up and always remember that success is a journey and not a destination!”
“When given advice, the best thing you can do to act on it is to do whatever you were told! I’m sure there’s no way it can harm you, but only benefit you!” – Jordan Sizelove
“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play better than anyone else.” – Martin Brooks
“The best piece of motivational advice l have ever received is to create a philosophy for my life. l received this advice from Jim Rohn. Because of Jim’s advice, l created my own philosophy for life which is: to live a fulfilling life.” – Marcus Kusi
“The best motivational advice I was given was not things like take risks, be bold, etc. It was advice for when you had taken the risks and been bold over and over and your grand dreams just weren’t working out like you expected. A friend then shared a quote from Rev. Andrew Mullin who said, “lower your expectations and claim a victory.” And that for me, made all the difference.” – Susan Sparks
“The best piece of motivational advice I ever received is to smile at myself in the mirror. What a difference it makes! Most women look at themselves in the mirror and scowl. The wrinkles! The fat! How depressing! Instead if I smile, it makes me feel much like when another person smiles at me—happy, confident, strong!” – Jennifer Bright Reich
“The best piece of advice I ever received was he famous quote, “whether you think you can or think you can’t…your are right.” They wanted me to know I had greatness in me, and as long as I believed it, I could achieve incredible things.” – Nicole Martinez
“Be motivated by self-compassion rather than self-criticism. While we often think that self-criticism is very motivational it actually shuts us down rather than moves us forward. Self-criticism, which comes from the fear of being worthless, provides an illusion of control and triggers fight-or-flight. In contrast, self-compassion comes from the desire for health and wellbeing; emphasizes self-acceptance, not self-improvement; triggers oxytocin and provides the emotionally supportive environment needed for growth and change. When we accept ourselves as we are we can truly change and transform.” – Dr. Ellen Albertson
“You can fail at what you don’t want so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”- Jim Carrey
Life is like riding a bike – you keep riding or you fall off.”- Anna Ruth Cheek (my mother) – Lori Cheek
“The best piece of motivational advice I’ve ever received was, “Find a good mentor.” Seek out someone who’s achieved success in the field you desire, and be willing to follow their advice.” – Richard London
“The best piece of motivational advice I ever received was to touch a piece of paper that lands on my desk (or comes into my office) only once—file it, toss it, give it to someone else to take care of, or respond to it immediately. This made me so much more willing to tackle paper work and made me much more efficient. No more wasted energy and no more dreading what to do with whatever comes across my desk. It works with emails too.” – Karen Koenig
“I heard a lady say this on television years ago and it was life-changing for me because I just couldn’t argue with the logic of it. Yes, we are faced with challenges and opportunities for success and failure, but we’ll never know what the outcome will be if we don’t … “do it afraid”! I have several examples in my own life where I’ve followed this advice and have always ended up glad that I did!” – Mary Kaarto
“The best piece of motivation advice I ever received was from my mother. She spoke to me about expectations placed on others. If you don’t have any expectations for others, you can never be disappointed. This might sound grim or sad, but at the core of it is a belief in self-reliance. It taught me the importance on getting the job done without a helping hand. It also taught me to appreciate the people who actually come through for you.” – Sebastien Dupéré
“The best advice I ever got was to spend my time with the right people. When you’re surrounded by people you respect, and who encourage, support, and believe in you, it’s a completely different experience than being with people whose judgement you question, or who want to hold you back. That’s the advice I’d tell people to take when looking at their friends, job, relationships. If you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and can’t get ahead, or that you’re spending more brain power thinking about your co-workers than work itself, or spending more time fighting with your partner than accomplishing good things together, it might not be your lack of talent or effort holding you back; you might be incompatible with the people around you, and if you can’t find a way to change those relationships, you may be better off finding new ones that work better” – Holly Tierney-Bedord
“You can’t wait for outside inspiration. You’ve got to see motivating yourself as an essential part of the process, maybe the most essential part. Because when it comes right down to it, nobody else can motivate you. All anyone else can ever do is talk you into motivating yourself, is sell you on the idea of motivating yourself. You motivate you. There’s nobody else who can be with you every hour of the day or the night when all those thousands of little decisions that lead toward your goals or away from your goals have to be made. You’ve got to be your own guru, your own favorite motivational speaker.” – Barry Maher
“My father always told me to be aware of what was going on around me. Follow your heart, motivate others to succeed and always provide leadership to others.” – Gerry David
“The best piece of motivational advice I’ve ever received is was when I asked my father for a new car, and he told me, “No, kid, you need to figure it out.” While seemingly harsh, they were words that defined my life and ultimately motivated me to push for success. The automotive industry is a male-dominated business, so I had my work cut out for me. I had to figure it out. I realized that my job was about helping customers to make the best decision for them and their families, and about helping other women in the automotive industry to realize that there is in fact a place for them at the dealership. Since then, I’ve lead one of the most successful Fiat dealerships in the country and helped to design the selling strategy across the brand. Now, I speak across the country in hopes that I’ll be able to offer those same words of wisdom that my father passed on to me; with a little guidance, we can all ‘figure it out’.” – Lisa
“If you are going through Hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill via my mother!
“As a Brit who uprooted her life and came to America to start her own company a few years ago, my mother said to me as she dropped me off at the airport; “Well, as Winston Churchill once said…” – and this advice has struck a note with me ever since.
When my relationship broke down in the midst of a critical business life cycle, I took great comfort in this statement. I would say it out loud to myself: “When you are in hell, and when you feel like the walks are coming in on you – KEEP GOING.” – Kate Morgan
“The best piece of motivational advice I ever received was from Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.” These simple words taught me the power of saying “no.” Instead of relying on hedge words, maybes, and I’ll try’s for politeness, I simplified myself to doing it or not doing it. It also motivates you once you’ve committed to doing something; there is no half-way – go hard, or go home!” – Kristen Fusaro-Pizzo
“My mentor taught me that having a strong passion for what you do is one of the most valuable philosophies a business can have. Don’t just start a business solely to make money, but also have a desire to make a difference and offer an experience designed to enhance the lives of your customers. It’s your passion that will give you purpose and will be what sustains you through the highs and lows of your entrepreneurial endeavors. Find one aspect of your business that you love and let that fuel your mindset.” – Ashley Chatman
“The best piece of motivational advice that i have ever received is “Listen to your elder’s advice, not because they are always right but because they have more experiences of being wrong”. What I love about this advice is that the action steps for it is to just LISTEN, which is one of the most powerful things that you can do. Your elders have been there and done that and if you just take the time to listen to their experiences and learn from their wisdom, you can get to where you want to get to a lot quicker by heeding their advice.” – Lane Fournerat
“Fifteen years from now if your older self looks back and writes you a letter, what would your older self write? Would he/she say keep being miserable, and unhappy or would he or she say, relax, have fun and enjoy the ride?
Steps to do it:
Have a goal or a dream, but focus on the steps you take today to move towards it not on being happy only when you achieve your goal.
Be present with yourself and those you interact with in everything you do.
Find the gift in the experience. There are always gifts in every task, experience or meeting. Train yourself to look for them.
Take responsibility for how you feel. If you don’t feel happy, motivated or excited, stop doing what you are doing and do something else.
Examine why you want that goal? What are you hoping to feel when you achieve that? Can you elicit those feelings in the tasks you want to complete today?” – Lori Brant
“It’s always your fault!
If you fail… its your fault you didn’t succeed.
If you get 90% on a test… its your fault you didn’t get 100%.
If your business exits at $100 Million… its your fault it didn’t exit at $500 Million.
Once a person recognizes that placing blame outside of oneself is a complete waste of time, personal growth happens exponentially.” – Mondo Davison
“What’s happening in your life five years from now that makes you respond like this?” – Kathleen Kobel
“Motivation follows action, not the reverse. The act of seeing yourself in motion and committed to your intention creates motivation. So many people sit around waiting for the motivation to do something. First act and then worry about motivation. Steps to take: Motivation can be derived from the simplest first step in the world. Break down the desired action into the tiniest steps possible. Complete the first step even if it entails something as simple as opening a book or sharpening a pencil.” – Dr. Greg Kushnick
“Somebody else is working on their dream at this very second. What are you doing?” – Max Cron
‘All ships rise with the tide.’ “I’ve always loved and been inspired by that sentiment. For me it means that hard work is most effective when its done within the context of a team. When everybody is pushing towards the same goal, with the same enthusiasm then everyone will be rewarded with the results.” – Jennifer A. Maguire
“When I was 13, I met Steve Jobs at Stanford University. He told me to ‘ignore what others say, and follow who you want to be.’ I keep this in mind everyday and use it to follow the path that is most authentic to me. ” – Eric Schiffer
“Follow your bliss. If it brings you joy do more of it (Joseph Campbell). Find what matters most and build your life according to that necessity. This is the source of all great accomplishment! Then remember that there is no safe way to be great. Face the inevitable fears that surface when you are compelled by greater purpose. See through them to the illusion that they are. Play-on-purpose rather than Playing-not-to-lose. Act as if you have nothing to gain or lose. In Truth you don’t.” – Bob Anderson
“Last year I enrolled in a leadership development program at my organization and enjoyed one-on-one coaching for the first time in my career. I began the program expecting to be personally transformed by developing a specific skillset I had identified as imperative for a successful leader. I need to be more assertive. I want to grow my decision making abilities. My strategic thinking skills could use some work. My self-narrative on Day One of the program said that I was insufficient as is, my strengths weren’t good enough, and I needed to become a different person to be an effective leader.
I was wrong.
The most transformative truth I was told is that I am the best leader when I am me – when I fully embody the strengths I already have at my disposal. The focus of my development should be on those skills, not on a list of leadership capabilities I assumed were necessary to attain. What a shift in thinking about effective personal leadership!
I think this simple epiphany applies to all individuals and organizations. It’s important to remain authentic – to ourselves and to our organizations. You are not Steve Jobs, and your organization’s culture is not Apple’s. You can’t copy one phenomenal leader’s qualities or one exceptional company’s practices as your own blueprint for success. Instead, a rigorous and ongoing process of self – and organizational growth is necessary to cultivate the most effective leadership development.” – Ann Parker
“I never received any motivational advice. During my formative years, I lived through near poverty after immigrating to the U.S. My motivation is my desire to never go back to that lifestyle. I work hard every day because I don’t want to buy discounted, nearly expired groceries for my kids like my parents and I used to do. Sometimes, the best motivation is not what someone says to you—it’s what you’ve experienced for yourself.” – Vladimir Gendelman
“I use a lot of motivational memes in my work as a coach and matchmaker because many clients who are having relationship struggles or who are looking for love tend to be low emotionally. I try to keep them feeling up, with slogans and mantras.
One of my favorites is “Fake it until you make it,” because studies have shown this not only sounds good, but it works! Studies show that if you act a certain way, feelings come after. Most people think they have to feel good before they can act happy. That is not the case! The more they say this slogan and live it, the better they feel, and the better relationships they attract.” – Karenna Alexander
“Identify, learn, and understand what you truly believe about yourself.” – Dr. Melanie Ross Mills
Which piece of motivational advice resonated with you?
Tell us in the comment section below!