The Beautiful Habit of Inspiration

 In Communication, Managing Your Team, Managing Yourself

I love a good quote. When one hits me just right, I relax into myself. Everything drops into perspective. I realize no matter what I’m facing, I’m not alone in how I’m feeling. I get the exact inspiration I need to lift the clouds on a gloomy day and remember to be grateful. A good quote motivates me when I need that little extra push.

In my office, quotes are everywhere: in pretty frames, stamped onto pens, and even painted onto rocks. Some are just for fun. Others drive home a serious point.

One of my personal favorites is from Stephen Covey: “I am not the product of my circumstances. I am the product of my decisions.”

In the workplace, quotes inject life into an agenda or a document. They can also show that other people in positions of leadership have struggled or successfully worked on the same issues that we encounter. Quotes validate us.

Encouraging Words

A good motivational quote or turn of a phrase encourages and inspires action. Through words, they tell us to quit making excuses and just do it. Motivational quotes bring comfort and compassion when we’re feeling the need for a bit more support than usual. Quotes help us believe in ourselves.

That said, quotes are not a magic potion or trick that instantly gets the job done. A phrase — no matter how pithy — will not suddenly turn things around. Just as players on a football team may start a game with a war cry, they don’t win unless they’ve also practiced, strategized and learned to work together. Inspiration is important, but it’s not everything.

Power Quote:

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.  (Aristotle)

Power Challenge 1: Get Inspired!

What can a good quote do for you, as a leader? How about staying positive, getting energized to deal with the hard stuff, feeling comforted, or remembering what’s important? Try these ideas to feed yourself with inspiration:

Keep a notebook handy to jot down your favorite quotes.

Include the quote and source (if any). Personally, I keep my notebook nearby whenever I’m reading and often capture phrases that strike me.

Review your notebook.

From time to time, flip through your notebook to read what you’ve put there. You may be surprised at the material you’ve captured and how good it feels to revisit it. You just might find exactly what you need on that particular day.

Print a favorite quote and keep it on your desk.

Not only does this remind you of your inspiration, but when other people ask you about it, it will spark interesting conversations. Change the quote every so often. (Some interested employees may even stop by to check for changes.)

Let social media bring you daily quotes and inspiration.

There are literally hundreds of Instagram, Facebook and other groups that offer a daily thought, quote or saying. You can find them in all flavors — funny, motivational, religious, and more. Sample a bunch until you find what works for you.

Share your favorite quote on social media.

A lot of people appreciate a clever or thought-provoking phrase. You may find that you get quite a few responses to your share.

Bring quotes into your meetings or agendas.

For the greatest impact in a meeting, use quotes or sayings at the beginning, and try to align them with the planned discussion topics. If you like, involve your staff by inviting them (in rotation) to bring their own favorites to meetings. They may be glad to be asked, and you’ll get the side benefit of adding ones you like to your own collection.

Power Quote:

You don’t have to be crazy to work here. We will train you.

Power Challenge 2: The Art of a Note

Do you feel that digital technology has made paper cards and notes obsolete? Not me! I still enjoy putting pen to paper. Nothing lengthy; just a short note or message. I deliver them in all different ways: in the mail, dropped on a desk, slipped inside a friend’s purse, or given in person.

As the workplace supervisor or boss, you can boost morale by giving someone a well-chosen card or note. When you acknowledge something like good work, a personal loss, or a personal milestone, you are showing that you care.

Power Quote:

Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. (Albert Einstein)

Create your own collection

You can find greeting cards for almost any occasion or feeling. Cards can wish someone good luck with a move or a new job, express condolences over the loss of a pet, apologize for a mistake or just say hello.

For ease and convenience, I keep a basket of cards on hand. I find my greatest variety of cards when traveling and always pick up a few wherever I go.

Not into cards?

If you’re not into store-bought greeting cards, there are other options. Get some simple note cards printed with your name or initials. Or write your note on regular paper. Heck, why not get creative and make your own cards!

Give cards (or notes) at work

The next time your project manager knocks it out of the park, grab a card from your collection and write a congratulatory note saying “great job.” When your office manager remembers everyone’s birthday, drop her a thank-you note. When an employee’s child graduates or her spouse is undergoing cancer treatment, acknowledge these times with an appropriate card. Or have no reason at all! Just use a card to bring a little humor to anyone’s day.

Whatever you do, I recommend you start small. Don’t show up at the office with a card for everyone! Make your cards meaningful.

Don’t skip the handwritten note!

Whichever way you choose to share your message, be sure to write one or two lines of your own. This simple act lets your employees know you value them and that they matter. Isn’t that what we all want?

Power Quote:

It always seems impossible until it’s done. (Nelson Mandela)

Power Challenge 3: Don’t Give in to the Naysayers

I’ve heard naysayers object to using quotes and sayings. They say these things are just sound bites with short-lived impact. Naysayers are also quick to point out that quotes are often misattributed.

Who Said That?

For example, Marilyn Monroe didn’t really say, “Well behaved women rarely make history.” It was actually Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, teacher for Women’s and American History at Harvard.

Gandhi didn’t tell you to “be the change” and Mark Twain didn’t believe only in “death and taxes.” And, not to burst any one’s bubble, but George Washington never said, “I cannot tell a lie. It was I who chopped down the cherry tree.” His biographer Parson Weems coined it after the president’s death!

In my opinion, the benefits of using quotes and sayings are greater than the risk of an inaccuracy here and there. Quotes can be powerful and impactful when used correctly. Just make sure the ones you use are appropriate, direct and aligned with the message you are delivering.

Power Quote:

It takes no more time to see the good side of life than to see the bad. (Jimmy Buffett)

Looking for a motivational speaker for your next event? Carla energizes and inspires attendees to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.

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