8 Inspirational Quotes for Work

Jamela Adam

If your motivation is waning and your Monday Blues are lasting an entire week, inspirational quotes may help you rediscover your spark.

“By reprogramming our minds with inspirational quotes, we can improve our interactions with the world around us, leading to increased energy levels and productivity,” said Emily Maguire, managing director and career consultant at Reflections Career Coaching, in an email.

Here are eight inspirational quotes to fuel your productivity and ignite your passion for your career.

1. “Every wall is a door.”

This modernization of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Every wall is a gate,” is about turning adversity into opportunity.

Success isn’t merely a result of waiting for opportunities to come knocking on your door. For example, if you want to be promoted to a managerial position, sitting around waiting for a promotion is not an effective way to reach this goal. Instead, initiating projects, networking with colleagues or pursuing professional development are much more likely to get you there. With this positive mindset, you take control of your career trajectory and forge your own path in the workplace.

2. “The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.”

This quote, attributed to Theodore Roosevelt, references how growth comes from the willingness to stumble, learn, evolve and turn slip-ups into stepping stones toward success. If you stick to your comfort zone out of fear of making a mistake, you rob yourself of the chance to grow.

Consider this scenario: Your employer hosts a Toastmasters event to help employees improve their public speaking skills. You recognize the benefits but hesitate to join, fearing you might stumble over your words or fumble during the presentation. If you never take that chance, however, you’ll never know which areas of public speaking you need to improve.

3. “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

This quote is commonly attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca although there is doubt about whether he actually said it. Despite its shaky provenance, it has resonated with individuals looking for motivation.

In the workplace, it points to how some may consider successful people lucky because they were fortunate enough to stumble upon golden opportunities. However, the reality is that even if these individuals found themselves at the right place at the right time, they would not have been able to transform these opportunities into success stories without preparation and capability.

Let’s say you’ve been diligently upskilling yourself outside of work and staying on top of industry trends. Suddenly, an opportunity arises when your manager resigns, leaving an open leadership position. Because of your preparation, you can seize this opportunity and present yourself as the ideal candidate to fill the role. Yes, luck played a role in the timing, but your preparedness was also an undeniable part of your success.

4. “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan next week.”

This quote is attributed to General George S. Patton.

While it may have helped him make decisions on the battlefield, it also carries wisdom for the corporate world. Indecisiveness in the workplace, especially in a fast-paced environment, can often lead to missed opportunities. Of course, you shouldn’t make decisions without careful consideration, but you might never accomplish anything if you keep waiting for the perfect plan.

5. “It’s not what we do once in a while that shapes our lives. It’s what we do consistently.”

This quote, attributed to the motivational speaker Tony Robbins, is a reminder that success isn’t a one-time event but the culmination of seemingly mundane efforts that you put in daily. They may include attending a professional development course every week, building relationships with colleagues at work happy hours or spending a few hours each day refining your skills. It’s the commitment to these small actions that matters most on your journey to success.

So, if you’re just starting in your career, be patient with yourself.

6. “You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”

For many, self-doubt is a major obstacle on their path to career success, and imposter syndrome is common. If your mind is constantly troubled by doubt and negative self-talk, consider this quote from the legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant.

Negative habits such as constantly talking down on yourself could damage your mental health and even end up sabotaging your success. However, building confidence in the workplace can be challenging when your feelings of unworthiness stem from deep-seated issues or childhood trauma. If your low self-esteem is hindering your career, consider talking to a therapist to help you develop a healthier and more resilient mindset.

7. “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” 

Nelson Mandela wrote this quote in his autobiography “Long Walk to Freedom,” published in 1994.

Professional growth often requires you to step outside of your comfort zone, whether that’s pursuing leadership roles, overseeing challenging projects, overcoming your fear of public speaking or embracing new responsibilities. Even if your dream is to ditch the corporate grind and pursue your own path, entrepreneurship may also require you to confront fears, such as the fear of failure or the unknown. While fear is an unpleasant emotion, reframing it as an opportunity for growth is the first step to overcoming it.

8. “There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing and be nothing.”

This quote is often attributed to American writer Elbert Hubbard. Taking risks, voicing your opinions and pursuing new ideas naturally invite feedback in the workplace, not all of which will be positive.

Of course, facing criticism is never pleasant, but avoiding it by remaining silent and never taking action only leads to stagnation. So, learn not to take constructive criticism personally and see it as a tool to propel you forward.

This blog originally appeared at U.S. News on Dec. 8, 2023.

About the Author: Jamela Adam began writing for U.S. News & World Report’s Careers section in 2023. She also contributes her career advice and personal finance expertise to a wide array of major publications such as Forbes, RateGenius, SuperMoney, Clever Girl Finance and Chime.

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Madeline Messa

Madeline Messa es estudiante de tercer año en la Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Siracusa. Se licenció en Periodismo en Penn State. Con su investigación jurídica y la redacción de Workplace Fairness, se esfuerza por dotar a las personas de la información que necesitan para ser su mejor defensor.