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6 Inspiring Quotes That Have Stood the Test of Time (and my mom).

A challenging morning can be made less difficult by reading a few inspirational or motivational quotes. Sources for inspiration can be found in the quotes of former presidents, successful business people, inventors or even your parents. A deeper meaning for each quote can be determined by what is going on in your life at any given time. 

These quotes have helped guide me during challenging times, times of failure and times of victory. I hope they have significance in your life as well. As you read the quotes, let them simmer in your head. Allow each quote an opportunity to find meaning with you.

Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.
— Henry Ford

Your brain is an incredibly powerful organ. Electrical impulses fire off at incredible speeds and if we don't learn how to work the mechanics of our brain properly, it could possibly work against us, letting fear of failure or fear of the unknown block our way to success.  Feed your brain with positive self-talk, happy thoughts and keep yourself thinking about success (however you define it). You are in control of your behavior and your thoughts. 

Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.
— Dr. Benjamin Spock

What does your gut tell you? The vast majority of the time you have the tools to make decisions on your own. What is good for someone else might not be good for you, so rely more on your ability to make decisions, taking your best interest at heart. When you trust yourself, you start to build more self-confidence. Ultimately, this will benefit you as well. When you make a wrong decision, get value from the lessoned learned, grow from it and allow it to help you trust yourself even more.

If I have nine hours to cut down a tree, I would spend six hours sharpening my axe.
— Abraham Lincoln

Preparation is very important, but there is a fine line between preparation and procrastination. Be wise enough to know the difference when it comes to you making decisions and taking action. Write down a list of the actions that you are fearful of. Maybe you are afraid of cold calls, public speaking, networking, making decisions, etc.  If these are troubling areas for you, when it comes to taking action, be sensitive to your inability to move forward. Prepare to be the best you possible, but don't wait for perfection. If you do, it will never come.

Anyone that has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
— Albert Einstein

Scientists, inventors, visionaries and entrepreneurs understand the importance of making mistakes. Learn the valuable lessons that mistakes and missteps can create. Look back to all the amazing things that you have been able to accomplish in your lifetime. You have earned many achievements. I can assure you that you did not go from point A to point B without a few, if not many, mistakes. Mistakes made is the Universe's way of asking, "Congratulations for stepping outside your comfort zone, what did you learn?" 

Some people come into your life as blessings. Other people come into your life as lessons.
— Mother Teresa

Not everyone you come in contact with will be your friend, no matter how awesome you may think you are. I had a tough time with this one. People come into your life for a reason. Personally, I'd prefer to meet someone with the hope that they are a blessing in my life, as I would hope to be a blessing in their life as well. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Think of the relationships you started over the past few years. Are all of there people still in your life as a positive influence?  Probably not. Appreciate the fact that some people are placed in your life as a way for you to grow. Do not see this as a negative. I have learned several valuable virtues including patience, diligence and perseverance from people that I no longer have relationships with, but needed them in my life at that specific time, to teach me these values.

Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.
— RosaLea Finstein (Doug's Mom)

My Mom, a frequent participant in the comments section of this blog, has provided a generous amount of content for my Nice Guys Finish First speaking and writing platforms. I will often label a quote, "Doug's Mom."  Although many of the quotes are tongue and cheek, they all have a deeper meaning with multiple interpretations. Although the exact origin of this quote is unknown, this "show me your friends" quote dates back, for me,  to her mother, my grandmother. I never had the honor of knowing her during my lifetime. Both professionally and personally you are who you associate with. Align yourself with positive, caring, empathetic people if you want to be a positive, caring and empathetic person. When you are working towards a goal, it is always a good idea to associate with others who have reached similar goals so you can learn from them. It may require effort to separate from some of your "negative" influences, as they might, at times, be disguised as things like television, Lazy Boy chairs or even a persuasive friend. 

There are many great sources for finding inspiration. Social media channels including Twitter and Instagram can provide great inspiration. Search engines like Google provide an "Images" tab for their query results to help me visualize the quotes I select for inspiration and motivation. Websites like BrainyQuote.com are wonderful as sources for content as well. Good stuff in equals good stuff out, and inspirational quotes are a great way to kickstart your thinking. 



Getting out of your zone

We should take time to sample life. Live more outside of your comfort zone.

We should take time to sample life. Live more outside of your comfort zone.

We all have a comfort zone. It’s that warm, friendly place that welcomes you with open “arms.” It’s the small office, cubicle or glowing computer screen calling your name, pulling you into its grip. The zone could be something as simple as your routine between nine and five, including all the trappings of work. After work is complete, it most certainly includes your home life as well. Your comfort zone could be a bit more complex and include travel, conferences and other activities within your industry.

Your comfort zone is, well, comfortable. And while being in your comfort zone potentially creates small growth potential, most people do not venture far enough from their comfort zone to create opportunity. That’s a mistake.

Most dramatic growth is created when you step outside of your comfort zone. Taking small risks greatly enhances your ability to grow while not putting you into too much of a danger zone. As you get better at handling small risks, your tolerance for risk becomes greater. Practice makes perfect and as you excel at the challenges you encounter, your threshold for risk also increases. You begin to stretch more and your growth will increase exponentially.

The problem, however, most people encounter is a feeling that when they are outside their comfort zone, they are stepping into the terror zone. That shouldn’t be the case at all and although there will be some discomfort on the perimeter of your comfort zone, it is still a long way before reaching the terror zone. The benefits of stepping out of your comfort zone will far outweigh the drawbacks of a “life gone static” inside the zone.

Let’s look at the benefits of stepping outside of your comfort zone:

  1. Enhances creativity - You need to think outside the box. Creativity grows rapidly when you step outside your comfort zone.
  2. Builds confidence - Being confident creates a feeling of self importance.
  3. Change will come easier to you - Taking small risks will allow you to adapt to change much more easily.
  4. Helps you deal with failure better - You won’t be perfect at everything you do outside of your comfort zone. Know that you will fail at a few things you try and that is quite ok.
  5. Provides a new perspective - Not everything that happens in this world happens in your bubble. It’s great to see life from another perspective every once in a while.
  6. Provides growth and independence - You are responsible for you. You should not be depending upon anyone other than you and stepping outside of your comfort zone will help you become more independent.
  7. Allows you to gain more control of your life - When you stay in our comfort zone too long, you allow your routine to control you instead of you controlling your routine. Step out and gain control.

With all these great benefits to stepping out of your comfort zone, what are some ways to actually make the first move to go beyond where you are now:

Go solo - A great way to step out is to step out alone. Try going to the movies on your own, having lunch alone or going away for the weekend on your own. These simple exercises will boost your independence and confidence and help you gain control of your life.

Do everyday things differently - Take a new route to work without using your GPS. Wear a color or garment that you would not normally wear. Ladies, wear an accessory that wouldn’t normally be “you.” Guys, wear a bowtie instead of your traditional neck tie. People will begin to remark about this new “you.” Changing it up a bit is so simple and the results are so great.

Get crazy (just a lil bit) - Have you ever bought lunch for the entire office? If you are short cash, bring in donuts and put them on a tray, drape a white cloth napkin over your arm and deliver them from office to office as your way to say “thanks for being an awesome coworker.” If you are flat broke, make paper flowers at home (YouTube has great videos for this) and hand deliver them to the people you work with -- I promise you it will be a day to remember and your coworkers will love you even more.

Present yourself - Offer a lunchtime presentation or prepare a speech about something you are passionate about. Want to save the whales or clean up a local stream or talk about the benefits of a vegetarian diet? I am confident others will want to hear about it too, even if it’s only a small group. Public speaking is one of the biggest fears of all. Overcome this fear and you will be well on your way to stepping outside your comfort zone.

Do something completely new and silly - The next time you are in a crowded elevator, turn to face the entire group and say these words, “I guess you are all wondering why I called this meeting.” You will have at least one or two that will laugh at your joke. If not, no big deal, get off at your floor and get on with your day. Learning to laugh at yourself is important. You are allowed to fail, and you are allowed to be foolish.

Volunteer - There are hundreds of worthy causes that need your help. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen or shelter. The genuine gratitude shown by those you serve will help you understand just how important you really are in this life. Just as important, you will gain perspective on what really is essential in life -- a smile, a hug and a good deed.

The above ideas are just a starting place for you. As you get used to stepping outside of your comfort zone, your tolerance for new and different things will grow and you will begin to thirst for all of the amazing adventures you’ll find in this huge world we all live in.

Your comfort zone will forever be growing and you will be growing as well. As you stretch your zone your are stretching your limits. Look back to that first push from your comfort zone and you will finally see why being stuck there is not beneficial to you. You are capable of greatness and there is no one greater at being you than you.

I especially can’t wait to be on the elevator when you turn and say, “I guess you are wondering why I called this meeting.” Tell me about the ways you step outside your comfort zone. Add a comment to the section below.