“A quotation at the right moment is like bread in a famine.” Yiddish Proverb

When people are stuck, stagnant, indifferent, or lost, the right words can act as the inspiration they need to keep moving, make a change, try something new, get unstuck. In just a few words, quotes sum up what people may have been struggling to express themselves, or what they have needed to hear.

Connecting With Quotes

Quotes don’t inspire or motivate in a vacuum: people respond to them for a reason. There’s a connection between the words and what they’re experiencing in their own lives. If people can’t apply the message to their own past, present, or desired future, it holds no meaning for them. A life-changer for one may fall flat for another.

A Vistage speaker once said, “Everything that happens around us and to us is just an event. It only has meaning because we make it so.” In other words, it’s not what happens that matters; it’s how people react. It’s the same way with quotes: they’re just words on paper unless people connect and attach meaning.

Inspiration vs. Motivation – Which Do You Need?

While many people use these two terms interchangeably, there is a significant difference. Inspiration comes from outside; motivation comes from within.

An inspirational quote may create a sense of wonder, excitement, and possibility. It moves people to think or feel differently. But if it does not move them to act, it remains simply inspirational. Only when it spurs some change or prompts people to take a step, does it become motivational. Take the following quotes, for instance:

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass; it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene

Everyone has trials and tribulations, challenges and problems. Instead of complaining and wishing away their lives waiting for the rain to pass, maybe they should just embrace it.

This can shift a person’s whole attitude, and that’s inspirational. It changes the way he or she thinks. When does it become motivational? When she says, “I have to change my attitude, and I’m going to go find a big puddle to jump in.” She does something as a result, leveraging the inspiration into motivation.

“Today is someday.” Unknown

Someday, I’ll go on that trip. Someday, I’ll take that course. Someday, I’ll dance in the rain. If someone’s stuck, this might prompt her to say, “I’ve been putting off my life. Today is someday.” It motivates when she says, “I’m booking that plane ticket,” or, “I’m signing up for that class.”

“Helping someone achieve their own success is just about the most rewarding thing you can do.” Greg Norman

This resonates with me because it speaks to my role as a peer advisor, mentor, and coach. It inspires me to think that I can have an effect on other people, their lives, and their careers. But it also motivates me because I can do something about it. I can act by continually improving what I do, showing my excitement about what I do, and going out every day and doing it.

Inspiration turns to motivation when ideas and thoughts turn into action. Any quote can elicit this response, if it resonates. Once people hear something that rings true for them, the next question is, “What am I going to do about it?”