Since I was a freshman in college, I developed a habit that most would find rather unusual. I collected things. It wasn’t your typical collection of stamps, spoons or baseball cards. I’ve been an avid collector of quotes – words spoken or written by leaders who were beyond themselves and left a dent in this universe.
As I look in hindsight, many of these quotes have made an indelible impact in my life, shaping my perspective in life.
For instance, Oscar Wilde was known for saying
Be yourself; everyone else is taken.
When I first encountered this quote, it struck a nerve at me. At that time, I was trying to be someone else. In fact, I was trying to imitate someone I highly admired. The more I tried to fabricate my identity based on imitation, the more I felt empty and inauthentic. Wilde’s words were a profound reminder for me to discover my true voice and my unique gifts and talents.
Another quote that transformed my thinking came from C.S. Lewis who said,
I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.
This powerful metaphor of God as the light and how through this light I can see the worlds by the lens from God challenged my current perspective of Christianity. I used to compartmentalize my belief into “religion” sphere in life – but I realized how C.S. Lewis was saying that my belief in Christ needs at be at the centerpiece of everything.
As leaders, I believe an appetite for curiosity and learning is indispensable for leadership development. John Maxwell said it best:
The more seriously you take your growth, the more seriously your people will take you.
Quotes offer wisdom that is often distilled from decades of learning and experience. By intentionally meditating on what is said and written from these leaders give us insight into how we ought to live. For example, when I am in agony and in distress, it keeps me going when I remember Winston Churchill said,
If you are going through hell, keep going.
Or, when I feel like I want to “kill” time, the quote by Henry David Thoreau comes to my mind,
You cannot kill time without injuring eternity.
With years of reading and collecting quotes, I realized one important truth. Greatness doesn’t come from mere happenstance. Greatness is a product of focused intentionality. All these leaders had a laser-like focus when it came to pursuing his/her calling. That’s why I authored this quote book that will help the reader live with greater intentionality. As leaders, I hope you use this underutilized tool to bolster your leadership.