Inspire Through Quotations [Yes! And. Blog 186]

“Inspiring quotations are often seen but not heard.”

John Brooker

Using Quotations

Not quite inspired

How might you use inspiring quotations?

I use inspiring quotations in my articles, I post inspiring quotations on workshop walls and on Pinterest. I’ve even developed some of my own. Advertisers use them, e.g. “Good things come to those who wait”, which certainly inspired a lot of people to drink Guinness. However, I notice that many people treat them like “wallpaper”; and if they see them I sometimes wonder if they “hear” them and understand what they mean. Or perhaps overuse has left them uninspired

How might you encourage people to “hear” inspirational quotations so that they are inspired, and how can you use them in a practical way to get the best impact from them? Here are four ideas:

  • In workshops, if the energy slips, you might have people review the inspirational quotations on the wall (or floor). Each person chooses their favourite one, then I form pairs or threes and have them chat about why their chosen quotation is their favourite. This is a good way for people to reveal something about themselves without asking a direct question. For example, my favourite quotation: “There is no truth, only points of view.” (You will see it written in different ways and accredited to Roman generals, French authors and English poets) It reveals that; a) I am willing to listen to many viewpoints before making up my mind and b) I think it essential that if we are to be innovative and make meaningful change, people must listen to the ideas of other people. What might your favourite quotation reveal about you and your colleagues?
  • As a warm up for a meeting you might distribute quotations around the table, have people read them out and have the team discuss what the quotation means. This will surface different perspectives and may lead to a useful discussion. You might use a quotation relevant to an issue you have in the organisation or on your project, to get people thinking. If you have glossy posters of inspiring quotations on your walls, have the team discuss them and get some use out of the posters other than beautifying your office space or covering that tea stain on the wall.
  • I have pinned some of my quotation posters on Pinterest with links to relevant articles [click on the link]. True, it helps to promote my work, yet it is also a good way to carry on communicating with people, perhaps to emphasise learning points after a training course or to continue communication about a change programme. It doesn’t have to be an inspiring quotation, it could also be an inspiring picture. See some examples here.
  • There is no law that says you have to be famous to create a quotation. You might like to have people, in whatever environment you work in, collaborate to create their own inspiring quotation, perhaps linking it to the company values. This might be interesting over a few drinks too.

If I asked you to define “inspire”, it is highly likely that you would describe a feeling (“I feel inspired”). To inspire means “to fill (someone) with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” That’s my emphasis on the “to do”. In the spirit of that definition, perhaps you could try using one of the ideas above. After all, “A small step done makes far more impact than a big step not done”. I just wish I knew who quoted that.

Have an inspiring week.
John Brooker I Yes! And. Think Innovatively.

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About the author

John Brooker is a former Senior Vice President of Visa and is now the MD of Yes! And where he has worked internationally with multicultural teams since 2001. John has developed the Team Impetus Model, based on Solution Focus, to help teams develop strategies to achieve targets and resolve complex challenges. He has also developed his Inn8 Approach to help teams maximise opportunities innovatively. You can listen to clients discuss these approaches at our website,

John is an Open University MBA and tutored on the Creativity, Innovation and Change course for 14 years. He is a Board Member of the international Association for Solution Focused Consulting and Training.