One of the things on my bucket list is to go to Philadelphia and run up the steps of Philadelphia Museum of Arts at full speed. When I get to the top, I will raise both arms over my head and jump around like I had just beaten Apollo Creed.
Rocky is my all-time favorite film. Thirty-nine years after its initial screening, the movie continues to inspire me; its underdog storyline delivers a knockout punch each and every time.
We may not be professional boxers, but we have had our share of conflicts and battles in the largest arena in the world, the arena of life. We’ve won and lost our fair share of battles, some of which have left us battered, bruised, and even scarred for life.
Although Rocky Balboa is a fictional character, life often imitates art. In real life, we also have people who have overcome the most difficult challenges, the most horrific defeats, and the most wonderful wins!
They are among the most iconic personalities in every generation, but success was never theirs to begin with. They have had to work hard to claim it as their own.
10 Motivational Quotes for Success to Learn from Inspirational People
1. “Success is the ability to walk from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” – Sir Winston Churchill.
How would you describe the feeling of failure? Can you recall how you felt the last time you experienced a failure of significant magnitude?
The most recent for me was last September. We were in the final stages in our bid to land one of the largest local accounts. All signs pointed to a successful campaign. In fact, our accreditation was accelerated so we could commence operations before December.
However, all that came crashing down in September. We have been working tirelessly on this project since 2014. Then, all nails were jackhammered on the coffin in one single afternoon during a meeting at the lobby of EDSA Shangri-La hotel.
I would describe the feeling as being punched really hard in the gut. I couldn’t breathe and had the feeling of disorientation. The drive home took two hours. It gave me time to digest and reconcile everything that had taken place.
In the end, all the posturing will not lead to anything. When an individual is faced with failure, only two options exist: quit or move on. Quitting is the easier path to take. However, where do you go from there?
On the contrary, moving on is easier said than done. It is difficult to move because your body feels like dead weight. You deal with the emotional burden of packing away dreams and visions of what you hoped would lead to great and good things.
So turn the page and focus on other prospects or build on what you have. The future lies ahead not in the past. Pick yourself up, dust off the remnants of the experience, and continue forward with your journey. This is nothing more than a bump on your road to success!
2. “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney.
Before he brought Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and Goofy into our lives, Walt Disney went from one failed episode to another.
His employer fired him for “lack of imagination.” All the businesses he put up were massive failures, which forced him to declare bankruptcy.
Most individuals would have drawn in their curtains, curl up in a fetal position, and wait for the light to turn into night. However, Walt Disney persevered in his dream to build an amusement park where his workers could bring in their families. It would be the “Happiest Place on Earth.”
When Walt was developing his idea for the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, even his own wife and brother discouraged him! Insiders referred to the film as “Disney’s Folly.” When Walt ran out of money, he pursued investors with film clips to prove that his vision was worth their capital.
The rest is history, and the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is regarded as one of the greatest animated masterpieces of all time!
We all have our dreams; these are our goals that we want to achieve. People who believe that the path to achieving their goals is a straight line only deceive themselves.
There is no straight path; the road ahead that lies is fraught with obstacles, and it goes through a winding road with several steep climbs and deep drops. It is riddled with potholes, treacherous curves, and bends.
The weather is not always sunny; it can turn on you and become a torrential downpour. The winds can be strong enough to blow you off course. You may even meet creatures along the way who want to discourage you from going any further.
The key to getting to where you want to go lies in your ability to navigate through these challenges. It takes courage, self-belief, and an unwavering commitment to our dreams to achieve them.
3. “You must expect great things of yourself before you can do them.” – Michael Jordan.
Who would have thought that the consensus Greatest of All Time was cut from his high school basketball team?
If it happened to Michael Jordan, it could happen to you!
In several interviews, Jordan said getting cut was one of the most painful experiences in his life. However, in his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2009, namely, six years after playing his last NBA game, Jordan thanked the high school coach who cut him in high school.
That painful experience was the turning point in Jordan’s game. It was the impetus that transformed the high school reject into the greatest player the game has ever known.
In a sport where height is might, the 6′6″ Jordan’s game towered over an average 6′9″ NBA player. If it wasn’t for his brief retirement from 1993 to 1995, it was conceivable that Jordan could have broken the all-time scoring record of Wilt Chamberlain, who stood 7′1″!
Jordan didn’t let physical limitations prevent him from achieving his goals. Most importantly, he didn’t let failures and the opinions of other people deter him from improving himself as a player. He used failures and opinions as fuel to feed the fire that burned within him.
That fire is his faith and belief that he is destined for greater things.
We all have that fire, but unfortunately, some of us choose to extinguish it with fear and self-limiting beliefs. Remember that no one, not one incident, or no experience can define you for you who are.
Everyone has a destiny, and destiny leads to great things.
If you want to fulfill your destiny, strip away the cloak of fear and self-limiting beliefs and become who you can truly be.
4. “Some fighters come in thinking they’ve already lost. It doesn’t matter how good or talented you are. If you don’t think you will succeed, you never will.” – Holly Holm.
With those words etched in her blood, heart, and soul, Holly Holm a −1,200 underdog did the unthinkable and knocked out the previously unbeaten UFC featherweight champion, Ronda Rousey.
No one, save for her family and team, gave a Holly Holm a chance. No one respected her 9–0 MMA record, 19 world titles in boxing and kickboxing, and 45 fights. Rousey was unbeatable. Rousey was so good and so dominant that they were even thinking of matching her up with men!
However, Holm never wavered in her conviction she would be the new champion. Conviction starts in the mind and cascades down your body and into your heart.
It is perfectly normal to acknowledge the feelings of fear and doubt. However, once you have accepted them, pack them away and understand that the outcome has to be decided. You cannot do anything about the outcome. The only thing you have control over is your performance.
If you put in everything that you have and you can confidentially say you did your best, you have already won regardless of the outcome.
5. “If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” – James Cameron.
We all know James Cameron from his work on films. He is a visionary who dreams of big things. Cameron is an innovator who wants to shake up the filmmaking industry. His ideas were dismissed by critics as grandiose; they would not be welcomed by Hollywood’s discerning audience.
Years later, Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Titanic, and Avatar would be among the highest grossing films of all time. Cameron dared big and he dreamt big, and he made it happen.
Back in college, I had a friend whom I found to be more focused and goal oriented than anyone else. Shortly after graduation he drove to my house and showed me the “flowchart of his life.”
The flowchart detailed where he was going to be in a few years and what he would have achieved including acquisitions. While most of our batch mates chose to build their career here, he flew to Canada and started out from scratch.
I remember receiving mail from him every two weeks. In his letters, he would narrate how difficult life was in Canada; he called the Church “his place of solitude.” After a few months, the letters stopped coming. Friends of ours were writing him to come home.
I found out a year later that he had been promoted manager of the sales company and was sent on an all-expense paid vacation by his boss! Then, it was all smooth sailing from thereon.
He got his MBA from a prestigious university in the United States and built a successful career in one of the largest companies in the East Coast.
When he came home for a vacation, he told me about his journey and the trials he had to go through. He failed several times; but each time he did, he would start all over again from a higher vantage point. Why?
“Ambition; I wanted to be the best. You can’t be the best if you don’t want to be the best.”
People want to succeed, but they are afraid of taking risks. Of course, you should keep improving and developing your skill set but there will come a time that you have to apply what you have learned. Otherwise, you will never know the extent of your abilities.
To succeed means to take chances. You cannot call yourself an entrepreneur unless you are willing to take risks.
6. “The best revenge is massive success.” – Frank Sinatra.
When he was born, Frank Sinatra suffered a perforated ear drum during delivery. He suffered from cystic acne and had a skinny, little frame that made him the object of ridicule in his neighborhood.
Of course, we now know that Frank Sinatra grew up to become one of the biggest entertainers of his generation and one of the world’s highest paid singers. However, back in his younger years, no one would have ever thought that little, skinny, pimple-faced Frank would become “Ol’ Blue Eyes.”
When I started Benchmark, several people expressed their concern that this venture was wrong because it went against the grain. I spent four years in business process outsourcing (BPO) as a cofounder of another company.
BPO was cited as the new growth engine of the Philippines. Since 2011, the Philippines’ BPO industry has been averaging an annual growth rate of 20%. However, during my first four years, I realized that the conditions for profitable operations in BPO only favored the big companies.
Small-scale BPO companies had very little chance versus the giants. In an ocean full of opportunities, we were swimming with predators that had the pick of the fish.
I took notes of all the nuances of the industry and flipped them around when I started Benchmark. Every single associate of mine from the industry said I was committing corporate suicide.
However, two years and 30 happily satisfied repeat clients later, Benchmark is still around and growing stronger!
Would I say Benchmark is massively successful?
No, we still have a long way to go. However, I was able to prove that my business model for BPO works, because 100% of our clients are happy with the results. Every client we have is its own profit center.
Our level of success helped me move on from the failure of landing the local account I shared in the first quotation.
It occurred to me that in the Philippines, most of these large corporations are still stuck in old school management systems, namely, the ones that were prevalent during the Cold War.
Philippine companies are still investing in ways and means to design the Perfect Plan. They want to be assured of success. Mga sigurista.
Of the 30 clients we have, only 1 is Filipino.
From my interactions with local companies, most are oblivious of the fact that the events of the new millennium have eradicated their dreams of the Perfect Plan.
What events were these?
- 2003 meltdown of equities markets
- Iraq invasion
- 2007 financial crisis
- Global warming
- 2009 Euro Zone crisis
- The influence of social media
- The rise of freelancing and telecommuting
- Worldwide terrorist attacks
The global business environment is now in a state of VUCA: Volatile, Unpredictable, Complexity, and Ambiguous. VUCA is the term given by the Army College to describe post–Cold War conditions.
Companies should be focusing more on flexibility and mobility than on investing in rigid business planning.
This was my value proposition to the large local company. Recent news in their industry indicates a major shake-up among the players, as a new entry is set to expose all of their flaws and shortcomings.
Despite the rejection, I wish the local company well. Although I am sure that if they continue to pursue their old ways, they will fail miserably.
7. “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” – Bruce Lee.
If I was paid one peso for every naysayer in my lifetime, I would be richer than Bill Gates today.
What is it about some people that make them believe they are better than us? When someone gives me unsolicited advice, the first question I ask them is, “What have you accomplished in your life that empowers you to give me such advice?”
Don’t get me wrong. I welcome criticism, and I respect other people’s opinions. I subscribe to Don Peppers school of thought, “People generally have no malice with their intentions.”
However, I need to know where you are coming from. Are you concerned? Or do you want to lift yourself up at my expense?
There is a popular saying about having an opinion, but I chose not to quote it because it may offend some readers. In general, everyone has one; and some people will not hesitate to pull the trigger.
The martial art legend was incessantly plagued by critics from his native home, Hong Kong, and his adopted home, United States. “The world was not ready for an Asian action star,” he would often hear. However, Lee shocked the world in 1972 with his masterpiece, Enter the Dragon.
Overnight, Lee transformed the Hollywood landscape. The idea of an action hero changed from gun-toting, car-chasing, mustached, wide-lapel wearing private detective to a well-muscled, sinewy, cat-quick, silent assassin whose body was a lethal weapon.
Forty-three years after his death, Bruce Lee and Enter the Dragon continue to inspire people to become who they want to be.
In the end, you just have to stay focused on what you need to do. Moreover, you should not be distracted by the opinions of others. Remember that you are working for your own benefit, not for others!
8. “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say ‘Yes’ then learn to do it later!” – Sir Richard Branson.
Sir Richard Branson is one of the most influential business leaders in the world. He is an icon and one of my favorite influencers to follow on social media.
Sir Richard speaks from the heart. He does not flinch when it comes to sharing his numerous experiences with failure, which he claims is in thousands.
He also comes across as a very accessible and transparent person who will not hesitate to fund a business idea in which he sees little potential. He has always championed the entrepreneurial spirit and understands the difficult journey everyone goes through.
This quote of Sir Richard Branson is a particular favorite of mine because of its significance.
In the early days of Benchmark, one of the earliest inquiries for our services was digital marketing. The prospect came across my online profile and asked if Benchmark could manage his digital marketing campaign.
I always found myself to be “IT challenged” but I took the opportunity because it presented itself. We were asked to build a mobile-responsive website including design and management plus conceptualizing and overseeing the online marketing campaign.
I wasn’t even on Facebook! I only had a LinkedIn account. However, I knew good people in the industry. As a BPO professional, I had a network of highly qualified people to run to.
Long story short, we landed the account. We built the website in a month and ran the online marketing campaign for two years before turning it over to the client. Today, we manage their content marketing strategy.
Do not be afraid to extend your boundary beyond your comfort zone. Behavioral theorists call this boundary the “Glass Ceiling.” We all have it, and the Glass Ceiling prevents us from taking our abilities to another level.
Break through your Glass Ceiling! If you fail, at the very least, you will be starting off at a higher level. You will always be better off by taking on opportunities as a welcome challenge.
9. “I’m not afraid to look like an idiot.” – Anthony Bourdain.
Tell me if you have experienced any of these episodes.
One, you’re in class, and the teacher asks a question that you’re 99% sure of the answer. However, no one else is raising their hand? What if the 1% is correct, and I’d end up looking like an idiot?
Two, you’re sitting behind the computer. You’ve been tapping away at MS Word for the last hour. You are preparing a business proposal for one of the largest multinational companies in the world that just announced it was looking for a new service provider.
While reviewing your business proposal, you suddenly think to yourself, “The bigger companies are probably sending better proposals than mine. I might end up looking like an idiot.”
You will be an idiot if you don’t raise your hand or if you don’t turn in that business proposal.
I knew someone who cared more about his image than the outcome of his decisions. He would always tell me, “image is everything.” His decisions would always be based on how it made him look even if the repercussions were bad for the business.
One day over coffee, he asked my advice about one of his employees whom he wanted to fire because she allegedly reported seeing ghosts in the office.
“How is she performing?”
“She has an employee rating of 95%, par is at 90%.”
“So you want to fire her because she sees ghosts even if she performs above par?”
“Yes, because it doesn’t make me look good.”
My advice was simple. “Image without substance is nothing. Just get a priest to say a blessing and keep her on payroll.”
You don’t have to be like Anthony Bourdain, who ate warthog anus to pull in ratings, or Sir Richard Branson, who wore a wedding gown to promote Virgin Cola.
However, you need to worry less about what people think about you and just do what needs to be done to accomplish your goals.
No one ever said the road to success is pretty. It is more often than not harsh and ugly. However, the rewards for completing the journey are worth all the hardships.
10. “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. . . . Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs.
I saved the last quotation for one of the most iconic and inspirational people in the world, the late Steve Jobs.
Before engaging in the battlefield, the field commander or general will always orient the troops on the very reality and possibility of death in combat.
The reason is to get soldiers focus harder on the battlefield and realize mistakes are costly. When confronted with the enemy, a split-second hesitation can cost your life and those of your comrades.
How many smokers do you know quit because the doctor told them they have cancer? How many obese people start exercising after they get their first heart attack?
Death has the very powerful effect of transforming your perspective of life. The idea of losing everything changes the entire equation because it unravels the only thing that matters in your life.
Death as the way to appreciate life is a morbid but nevertheless profound perspective on the importance of every waking day. However, the context of Jobs’s message is clear: Why wait until death’s visit before embracing every opportunity and challenge that comes your way?
Most people fail to see an opportunity because they spend their time wallowing in self-pity. They never think their life is good enough or that everything could always be better. They look at others and become envious of what others have and resentful of what they don’t.
Each and every one of us has our respective concerns and problems to deal with. Just because a person doesn’t look the part of a troubled individual or you don’t read about it on Facebook doesn’t mean you have a monopoly on pain and suffering.
The difference between failure and success can often be measured in seconds, inches, or ounces. Think about your back swing in golf. What do you think will happen when a negative thought enters your mind as you drive the club toward the ball?
How about your time at the free throw in basketball? Game tied, time expired, ball in your hands. All you need to do is make one shot and your team wins the championship. What happens when a negative thought enters your mind before you release the shot?
A golf game, a basketball game; these aren’t life or death situations, yet we sometimes make them to be one. It can’t be truer than real life.
Keep moving forward
Let me end this article with a motivational quote for success from the best of the Rocky sequels, 2006s Rocky Balboa:
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
And that my friends, is how you succeed.