There was an interesting article recently in the Weekend Australian Magazine by Polly Vernon about inspirational quotes. While she provided great insight into the rampant growth in the use and visibility of such quotes, she also provided some brilliant insight into the minds of those who hold them in contempt. Certainly the language used by them as note worth as the inspirational quotes they reject. Expressions such as ‘word farts’ and ‘the stupid person’s idea of wisdom’ says something of their disdain.
But in terms of why others are attracted to them, one very interesting observation is that they provide some form of diversion to the constantly running messages that we have on repeat playing in our minds. The suggestion being that the mantra like quotes nudge our narrative and allow us to refocus from time to time.
From my own perspective, I have no universal position on inspirational quotes. However, the context in which they play out does shape my view somewhat. For example, to have such quotes playing out on home furnishings feels so underwhelming. In fact the Weekend Australian article referenced a Canadian research paper that found a link between lower IQ’s and a readiness to absorb, subscribe to, enjoy and share inspirational quotes – yes, perhaps having them on one’s cushions at home supports that.
Inspirational quotes in non-fictional books as chapter breaks often speak to me strongly. Usually because of their relationship to the topic I am interested in – hence reading the book.
However, typically I can never recall them post reading – but there is one that has remained with me and does drive action from time to time. It is a quote from a guy called Jocko Willink. He is an ex-Navy Seal, now running a leadership and management consulting company. I came across him in the Tim Ferris book, Tools of Titans. His quote is simply this:
‘If you want to be tougher, be tougher.’
This thought is one I periodically call upon when I am desiring a little more discipline or will power in my endeavours. Its power for me resides in the fact that it requires no elapsed time – just do it (sorry).