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August 26th, 2011

One thing I enjoy is collecting quotes – about leadership, about success, about inspiration. I’ve been doing it for more than a decade. Whenever I come across a good one, I drop it into a Word document. So far, there are 19 pages and more than 300 inspirational citations from famous people. Often, when I’m looking for motivation or a spark for new ideas, I’ll open up the file and start reading.

Here are three of my favorites:

“If everyone is thinking alike then somebody isn’t thinking.” ~ George Patton

“Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.” ~ John Wooden

“Do something every day that scares you.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

I’ve wondered if these sayings attributed to legendary people came ‘off the cuff’ in a newspaper interview, were published in a book or carefully crafted in preparation for a speech. I’ve also thought about how many things these leaders must have said during their lifetimes… and they’re remembered for just a few words. (See: Truman, Harry S. ~ “If you can’t stand the heat…”)

Yet a few words are all it takes to communicate a wonderful thought. Recently we were in a restaurant and, returning from the restroom, I poked my head in the kitchen. (Hey, I’m a coach… curiosity is what I do!) Written in large letters on a white board – surrounded by names of employees, schedules, specials and which menu items to push – were four words that speak volumes: “Earn your job everyday.”

With four people looking for work for every single opening in this country, that’s a great motivator for employees. Put more directly: “Phone it in, and you’ll be gone.” I guess the true power of a memorable quote is the carefully chosen words that convey the desired message.

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