9 Inspirational Quotes from Unlikely Sources That Will Motivate You

Ash Jurberg

Inspirational advice can come from anywhere.


Photo by Nicolas Häns on Unsplash

Nelson Mandela. The Dalai Lama. Mother Teresa. These are all great people with inspiring life stories and wise words to share. Many people follow their advice in their daily lives.

I like to delve deeper, and in my quest for motivation and improving my mental health have found inspiration from some unlikely sources.

I invite you to take in these words and see how they can motivate you. At the end, I shall share each of the people behind the words. As I would like the words to stand alone and resonate without being clouded by who the source is.

1. “If you admire somebody, you should go ahead and tell them. People never get the flowers while they could still smell them.”

Why are people so afraid of honesty? Of giving positive feedback? It seems in this day and age; people are reluctant to open up and share their feelings.

Using dating as an example, the rule of thumb, after a date is to wait four or five days before making contact. I have never understood that philosophy. Or in a relationship following the “treat them mean, keep them keen” mantra I heard throughout college.

Is this the way we want to treat people we like — to act negative or disinterested?

Even in business situations, there can be a reluctance to offer praise to colleagues, for fear of them looking better than we are.

Putting this into practice

Taking it literally, you could simply buy flowers for somebody you love. A partner, a relative, a friend. Just a little gesture to show that you care and are thinking of them.

If you admire a writer, leave a comment on their story. If someone in your workplace does something good — acknowledge them by telling them or even sending them an email.

By offering positive feedback or a kind gesture, it will often be reciprocated.

And you don’t want to be the person who says, “I wish I had said something, done something” when it’s too late.

When you finish reading this article, think of one person you admire and tell them.

2. “A lot of people give up just before they’re about to make it. You know, you never know when that next obstacle is going to be the last one.”

Success doesn’t come easy. Nothing in life does. If you wait for someone to knock on your door and hand you an oversized $1 million cheque, it’s not going to happen.

It’s easy to quit. Very easy. If Stephen King had stopped after thirty rejections, he wouldn’t have had his first novel published. For him, the 30th hurdle was the last one. If Walt Disney had given up after being fired from his newspaper job for “not having ideas” what would the world have lost.

Rejections are common. The job you want, the achievement you wish to unlock — guess what, it requires hard work.

Putting this into practice

Focus on your goal and think to yourself — this will be my last hurdle. If you have a positive mindset, that any obstacle in your way will be the last one, it will be much easier to clear it.

Don’t imagine 100 hurdles in the way; just focus on the next hurdle. A positive mindset can help create positive outcomes.

3. “When you stop chasing the wrong things, you give the right things a chance to catch you.”

The forbidden fruit tastes sweeter right? Wrong. Too many people focus on the wrong things.

You may be chasing a person who isn’t right for you. Maybe they aren’t giving you flowers (subtle reference to quote one) or appreciating you. Why do we put up with those relationships?

Or there is a toxic friend that you still hang out with. A lousy influence is leading you to bad decisions. Why do we keep people such as these around? Why is there a compulsion for negativity in our lives?

Your soulmate could be around the corner, sitting at the next table at the cafe but you don’t get a chance to meet them as you are with Mr/Ms Bad.

Putting this into practice

Remove the negativity from your life. Anyone terrible for you. Any substance that is bad for you. Any habit that is bad for you.

Channel your energy into more positive pursuits. Find new people that can be a positive influence. When you surround yourself with positive energy, people and thoughts, then good things will happen.

Healthy relationships equals a healthy life.

Write a list of positive people and habits and focus on those.

4. “It takes less courage to criticize the decisions of others than to stand by your own.”

This harks back somewhat to the first quote. It’s easier to give out criticism than to offer positive thoughts. For many people, their first instinct is often to criticize anyone whose views or work they disagree with. This may be valid on occasion but rather than focus on the drawbacks of others. It is better to focus on our own.

Perhaps you have always wanted to be a writer. I know I have. At first, when I announced this, I was ridiculed.

“There is no money in writing.”

“Journalism is on the decline.”

And so on. It was easy for people to give me reasons why this wasn’t a smart career move. I could have let this get me down, but this is what I truly wanted to do, and I have focused on it. There are times when I could walk away, but I dare to pursue this in the face of others thoughts.

Putting this into practice

Forget the negative comments from others. It is always easy to stand on the sidelines and give advice. Whether it be from jealousy, or adversity to risk-taking, no one achieved a goal from spectating.

If you have a dream or a goal — go for it. A passion should be pursued. Remember those criticizing from a distance are doing so from a comfortable, easy position. Ignore them and stand by your goals.

Write down your goals and stand by them.

5. “If I’d observed all the rules, I’d never have got anywhere.”

You have to take risks in life. Look for new paths, take any avenue available.

Suppose you follow the same path as everyone else, more than likely you will get the same result as everyone else. If you want to get ahead or do something unique, you need to take a different approach.

I like to think of Steve Jobs in this case. He was fired from the company he started — Apple, but returned two years later. When he returned, Apple had over 200 products. The rules of marketing, of business, said that the more products on offer the more consumers you can reach and the more sales.

Jobs was an innovator. He didn’t follow the rules. Instead, he did what no one thought of. He cut 70% of Apple’s products. Until Apple had only twenty, and we all know what has happened to Apple since.

Rules are made to be broken.

Putting this into practice

I am not advocating for you to do anything illegal or immoral. But look at things from a different angle. Try and see what you can achieve by taking a different path.

What wisdom of convention can you change that will advance your cause? I like to think of it less as rule-breaking and more of innovation.

Think outside the box. The path less travelled may be the correct one.

6. “Best advice that I ever got is to do whatever it takes to make myself happy, so that I’ll be able to make others happy.”

We all put enormous pressure on ourselves. We must always succeed. We must consistently be achieving.

What do we do this for? Is it to get a bigger house or to buy a newer car? Are we just trying to compete against our neighbour? What we need to examine is, do these things make us happy. Or are we just doing something to “level up.” Like we are all in a computer game, accumulating items to get to the next level.

Instead of this narrow vision, we should instead be focusing on things that make me happy — doing activities that make us smile. Studies have shown that smiling releases endorphins, natural painkillers, and serotonin. These make us feel good by elevating our mood. Smiling is the best natural drug there is!

Putting this into practice

Smiling — the result of being happy is also contagious. I promise if you smile at someone they will smile back. Not only do you feel better, but you will make the other person feel better.

That’s the benefit of the smile. You give one out, and you generally get one back. You are spreading joy. Everyone wins.

So find the things that make you happy, that make you smile and spread that happiness around! I am writing this with a smile and hope that you will read this with a smile.

Focus on happiness. And smile more.

7. “In the end, some of your greatest pains become your greatest strengths.”

This is very similar to the adage that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The focus here is on resilience. It is overcoming adverse situations, learning from them and growing.

A great example is diamonds and how they are made. Diamonds come from coal, which is dark and dirty. When this is under pressure for an extended period, (one to three million years!) the carbon pressure produces diamonds. The “pain” on the earth’s mantle — yields an extraordinary result.

Humans can work in the same way. When we put additional stress on our muscles, they grow back bigger and stronger. We are literally built to take pain and turn it into strength.

Putting this into practice

What can you learn from facing adversity? Use your setbacks to build resilience. Learn from them — instead of asking what went wrong, ask how I can learn from this.

Take the pain, the negativity and use it to your advantage.

Write down any setback you have and what you have learned from it. Use it as motivation.

8. “Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another”

What is holding you back? Is it seeking the approval of others? Again, we are often too worried about other people and what they think. Our social media-obsessed society has caused a focus on the thoughts and comments of others.

Too often, we are held back by this.

Putting this into practice

Do what feels right for you. Don’t sit back and wait for someone else to give you the go-ahead.

As adults, we have the right to make our own choices on what is best for ourselves. Note your goals and strive to achieve them. Seek counsel and advice from others, but don’t let anyone order you.

You are the master of your own domain.

9. “When I hear people talk about juggling, or the sacrifices they make for their children, I look at them like they’re crazy, because ‘sacrifice’ infers that there was something better to do than being with your children.”

How often, do parents say this? “The things I sacrifice for my children.”

I love the perspective from this quote. Time spent with children is the most precious time we have. I can relate to this. I have twin boys, and when they were young — they were a handful. I had to forgo activities and events that friends were attending as it took all my time and effort to raise them. At the time, I felt like I was sacrificing a lot. Missing out on life.

Now as they are teenagers and prefer to spend time with their friends or (unfortunately) their Playstation, I long for those days, when I was their focus, and they were mine.

It is only now that I realize it wasn’t a sacrifice; it was a gift.

Putting this into practice

For any parent reading this — it’s simple — spending time with your children should never be seen as a sacrifice. Cherish those moments as before you know it, they will be teenagers or adults and have moved on.

For those who aren’t parents, think of something else in your life, that you may incorrectly think of as a sacrifice currently. Look at it from a different angle. What would you be doing that was better than this “sacrifice.” Learn to appreciate it more.

Hopefully you found some of these useful, and they can help drive you in your quest. Now, is the part you have been waiting for. Who are the people behind these words?


  1. Kanye West
  2. Chuck Norris
  3. Megan Fox
  4. Attila the Hun
  5. Marilyn Monroe
  6. Flava Flav
  7. Drew Barrymore
  8. Madonna
  9. Chris Rock

I bet you didn't guess them all.

This shows that whether you are a rapper, a comedian, an actor or even a marauding Mongol — you can be a source of inspiration. Look at the words, rather than the people behind them.

Comments / 2

Published by

Writing on all things Texas. From politics to food from sports to current affairs- follow me for the latest updates

San Antonio, TX

More from Ash Jurberg

Comments / 0