How Memorizing Quotes Helped Bolster My Leadership

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.

A book full of quotes

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.

Questions: Which quote has shaped your leadership?

This is a guest post by Paul Sohn. He blog’s at Paul’s an organizational chiropractor, kingdom-minded influencer, and intentional leader and works for The Boeing Company. He writes about his perspectives on intentional living, growth, leadership, and the Christian life. You can also find him on Facebook. For a limited time, he is offering his new quote book, “He Said, She Said, and You?” for FREE. To download his book, click HERE.

By the way, I’m always looking for guest posters. If you would like to guest post, you can find the guidelines at An Invitation To Guest Post.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • A favorite of mine has always been “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing” by Edmund Burke.

    • Wow pretty powerful quote Rob. Thanks for sharing!

  • A recent one that really resonates with me is by Greg McKeown, from his book Essentialism: “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”

    • I like that a lot William. I heard great review of Greg’s Essentialism. It’s on my to-read list.

  • Great post Paul I hope it is still going well:)

    • Thanks Zech. I appreciate your support bud!

  • Dan Erickson

    “Jesus wept.” It’s the shortest verse in the bible, but shows Jesus’ empathy, something I believe all leaders should possess.

    • I’m with you Dan. Leaders need empathy and they need to express it to those they lead.

  • I like this quote from Dave Ramsey: “Focused Intensity Over Time Multiplied by the power of God equals unstoppable momentum.”

  • Juan Cruz Jr.

    “The problem is not that we aim high and we miss, but that we aim low and we hit.” Don’t know the author.

    • Good one Juan! Most of us don’t push ourselves to the heights we can soar. Rather, we’re content to stay well below our means.

  • Kayla F.

    Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others? – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
    No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of it for another. – Charles Dickens

    The best bosses I’ve worked for are the ones who aren’t afraid to do the “dirty work”, the ones who make it a point to “serve” their employees, in a sense.

    • Kayla, thanks for sharing the quotes that have touched your life. Both of those are great quotes and ones leaders need to remember!

  • Paul! Nice to meet you and I am sorry I wasn’t around when you were a guest with this post! (But here I am!) I LOVE quotes!! It made me feel almost vindicated (LOL) as I read your words… you see, I feel that very same way! I collect quotes as well, and I believe with all my being that they have made me stronger and better at all they touch in me.

    I was never good at memorizing until I became enthralled with the wisdom packed inside a sentence or two. It also made me realize how important what WE say is. How nothing can ever be without thought as it may be that moment someone remembers and it may be those words that impact a person, forevermore. Thank you for this.