In the workplace, in business or even within your personal life, people crave success. Whether it involves getting your startup off the ground, achieving your career goals or earning that next promotion, we all want to prove to ourselves and to others that we have what it takes.
Therefore, it’s important to stay motivated, especially when things get difficult. Learning and taking inspiration from those who have been there, seen it and done it is a great way to stay positive, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the best success quotes to keep you going.
So, regardless of what constitutes a ‘win’ for you, hopefully, you can draw encouragement from these famous quotes about success.
1. Roger Staubach
There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
A former quarterback and two-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys, Roger Staubach knows a thing or two about putting in the hard yards. The Ohio native didn’t even begin his NFL career until the age of 27, following a tour of duty as a naval officer in Vietnam.
Upon hanging up his helmet, the success didn’t stop there, either. Staubach’s subsequent real estate venture (originally created as a family insurance policy in case ‘some linebacker took my head off’) sold for $613 million (£485.8 million) in 2008.
As the former MVP shows, it is possible to achieve success in any arena as long as you are prepared to go further than anyone else.
2. Abraham Lincoln
I walk slowly – but I never walk backward[s].
Attributed as a response to criticisms that he wasn’t radical enough as a president, Abraham Lincoln’s assertion of being a calculated thinker and decision maker is an insightful indication of how success is achieved.
Widely viewed by both academics and the general public as one of the greatest US presidents of all time (Lincoln ended the US Civil War, abolished slavery and modernised the US economy), this determined and assured approach is a strong vindication that conviction, self-belief and rationality are all key factors in getting us where we want to be.
3. Muhammad Ali
The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights.
Another US sporting great, Muhammad Ali was known for his showmanship, supreme self-confidence and dazzlingly quick hands inside the boxing ring. But as this quote shows, success is not attained immediately or in the full view of onlookers; it is as the result of the hard work, dedication and perseverance that goes on when nobody else is around.
As Ali also showed, if you train hard, then the fight itself becomes easy; ultimately, it’s important to remember that if you want something, then you can’t take the simple route – you need to put in the countless hours of groundwork to make it happen.
4. John D Rockefeller
Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.
One of the key themes of success is risk; there are countless stories of successful people putting everything on the line in order to make it. And while there is nothing necessarily wrong with settling for ‘good’, you sometimes have to be prepared to take a hit or two in order to move towards that next level.
As someone who made an immense fortune venturing in a notoriously precarious field, John D Rockefeller is testament to what can be achieved if you’re willing to take a risk.
5. Jim Rohn
If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
Determination, grit and drive are undeniably important factors when it comes to achieving success, a fact highlighted by entrepreneur and public speaker Jim Rohn. His simple and brutal call to action refers to the difference in attitude between those who dream of getting what they want and those who go out and get it.
Even when something seems out of reach, it still all boils down to this one simple motto of making things happen; as Yoda famously told Luke Skywalker: ‘Do or do not. There is no “try”’.
6. Thomas A Edison
Many of life's failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.
With 1,093 US patents to his name and a reputation as the greatest inventor of all time, Thomas A Edison knew a thing or two about how to be successful.
Perseverance is a quality that the self-educated businessman put particular emphasis on, with the famous assertion that genius is ‘1% inspiration and 99% perspiration’, another of Edison’s attributed sayings.
It’s true, too; for every great success story, who knows how many more could have made it if they’d hung in there that little longer?
7. Oprah Winfrey
You know you are on the road to success if you would do your job and not be paid for it.
No list of motivational quotes or inspirational tales would be complete without a contribution from the original self-made success story; luckily, Oprah Winfrey has been offering up pearls of wisdom throughout her glittered career.
Although this particular quote is a little simplistic, it’s undeniably true that doing a job you genuinely love is a sign that you are successful. And while none of us would likely really work for free, there’s a big difference between doing something simply because it pays the bills and doing it because, actually, it’s your calling in life.
8. Helen Keller
Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved.
While Hellen Keller may be an extreme example (the activist and motivational speaker became blind and deaf following a childhood illness), her declaration that hardship creates strength and determination is undeniably true.
In the context of career success, this means putting yourself in situations where you are not comfortable; volunteering, perhaps, to take on certain projects or throwing yourself into roles where you are going to be challenged. Of course, there is always the potential that things might go wrong, but you’ll never develop or improve if you simply stick to what you know.
After all, as artist Michael John Bobak once said: ‘All progress takes place outside the comfort zone’.
9. Vidal Sassoon
The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work.
As touched upon previously, it’s impossible to make any progress in life unless you’re willing to work hard, a sentiment exemplified by hairdressing legend Vidal Sassoon.
Born into poverty so extreme that his mother had to place him in an orphanage, the London-born entrepreneur combined his creative flair with a flawless work ethic, building up a network of clients and customers that soon saw him break into Hollywood.
Regardless of what your industry or your goals are, though, the lesson is universal: if you want to achieve any form of success, then you have to be prepared to work for it.
As you can see, there are several similar themes within these words; chiefly, that success doesn’t happen by luck or accident, and that hard work, perseverance and strong self-belief are all required in order to make strides.
Hopefully, these quotes demonstrate this and can serve as a reminder on your own journey to success, whatever shape or form that may take.
What famous success quotes have inspired you? Let us know in the comments section below!