Top 41 Change Quotes

Posted on by Brandon Klein

TP’s “Top 41” Quotes

  “Do one thing every day that scares you.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

As year’s end approaches, one tends (well, I tend) to think a little bit philosophically. To

do the accounts of the year past—and to imagine the year to come. As I began that not

(for me) very systematic process, I stumbled across the Eleanor Roosevelt remark above.

And it got me thinking—the whole point. To add a little fuel to the fire I mined a few old

presentations for more spurs to both reflection and forethought. What emerged, in ever so

haphazard a fashion, follows. It is not a listing of “business quotes,” though 100% are

applicable to business. It is not a set of “motivational quotes” (perish the thought), though

most are in some sense motivational. I guess it simply is what it is ... some comments that

may help you, if you’re so inclined, to ruminate on where you’ve been and where you

might go in 2006:

“Do one thing every day that scares you.”—Eleanor Roosevelt

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”—Helen Keller

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious

life?”—Mary Oliver

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”—James Dean

“The two most powerful things in existence: a kind word and a thoughtful

gesture.”—Ken Langone, founder, Home Depot

“The deepest human need is the need to be appreciated.”—William James

“Don’t belittle!”—OD Consultant, on the essence of a well-functioning human


“If you don’t listen, you don’t sell anything.”—Carolyn Marland/

MD/Guardian Group

“It was much later that I realized Dad’s secret. He gained respect by giving it. He talked

and listened to the fourth-grade kids in Spring Valley who shined shoes the same way he

talked and listened to a bishop or a college president. He was seriously interested in who

you were and what you had to say.”—Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, Respect2

“What creates trust, in the end, is the leader’s manifest respect for the

followers.”—Jim O’Toole, Leading Change

“If you can’t state your position in eight words or less, you don’t have a

position.”—Seth Godin

“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the

world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead

“Make your life itself a creative work of art.”—Mike Ray, The Highest Goal

“Have you invested as much this year in your career as in your car?”—Molly Sargent,

OD consultant and trainer

“The most successful people are those who are good at plan B.”—James Yorke,

mathematician, on chaos theory in The New Scientist

“Tom, what have you done this year?”—Jessica Sutherland, Director, Institute for

International Research/Middle East    (TP: “Yikes!”)


“To live is the rarest

thing in the world.

Most people exist,

that is all.”

—Oscar Wilde


“People want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be

part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, that

they trust.”—Howard Schultz, Starbucks3

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one

most responsive to change.”—Charles Darwin

“We may not be interested in chaos but chaos is interested in us.”—Robert Cooper, The

Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-first Century

“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.”—General Eric

Shinseki, retired Chief of Staff, U. S. Army

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”—Gandhi

“We eat change for breakfast!”—Harry Quadracci, founder, QuadGraphics

“If things seem under control, you’re just not going fast enough.”—Mario Andretti

“You can’t behave in a calm, rational manner. You’ve got to be out there on the lunatic

fringe.”—Jack Welch, retired CEO, GE

“We have a ‘strategic’ plan. It’s called doing things.”—Herb Kelleher, founder,

Southwest Airlines


A man approached JP Morgan, held up an envelope, and said, “Sir, in

my hand I hold a guaranteed formula for success, which I will gladly

sell you for $25,000.” “Sir,” JP Morgan replied, “I do not know what is

in the envelope, however if you show me, and I like it, I give you my

word as a gentleman that I will pay you what you ask.” The man agreed

to the terms, and handed over the envelope. JP Morgan opened it, and

extracted a single sheet of paper. He gave it one look, a mere glance,

then handed the piece of paper back to the gent. And paid him the

agreed-upon $25,000.

The Paper:

1. Every morning, write a  list of the things  that need to be done that 


2. Do them.


“I guess it comes down to a simple choice, really. Get busy living, or get busy

dying.”—The Shawshank Redemption (Tim Robbins)4

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”—Steve Jobs, Apple 

“Groups become great only when everyone in them, leaders and members alike, is free to

do his or her absolute best.”—Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman, Organizing


“The best thing a leader can do for a Great Group is to allow its members to discover

their greatness.”—Warren Bennis and Patricia Ward Biederman, Organizing Genius

“You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend

or not.”—Isabel Allende

“Nobody can prevent you from choosing to be exceptional.”—Mark

Sanborn, The Fred Factor

“A leader is a dealer in hope.”—Napoleon

 “Nothing is so contagious as enthusiasm.”—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

“If you’re enthusiastic about the things you’re working on, people will come ask you to

do interesting things.”—James Woolsey, former CIA director

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before

you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself

believe.”—Winston Churchill

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”—Chinese


“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you

are a leader."—John Quincy Adams

The greatest danger

for most of us

is not that our aim is

too high

and we miss it,

but that it is

too low

and we reach it.


   “A year from now

  you may wish you

  had started today.”

—Karen Lamb6


  Tom Peters*: Leadership is all about love:  



Appetite for Life,


Great Causes & Determination to Make a Damn Difference, 

Commitment to Excellence, 

Shared Adventures, 

Bizarre Failures, 

Growth Beyond Measure,

Insatiable Appetite for Change.

*Would have been No. 42, but it does not seem appropriate to quote oneself and count it as wisdom.