Who’s inspirational quote is it anyway?

Who’s quote it is anyway?

I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for a good inspirational quote.  My work for the past 18 years has revolved around entrepreneurs, so it goes without saying that the quotes that draw me like steel to a magnet, are inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs.

The challenge, however, is to ensure that if I cite an author, I have my facts straight as we often use the wrong author.  Tony Robbins for instance often uses quotes from his mentor Jim Rohn.  This means that a number of times when we think the inspirational quote comes from Tony Robbins, the original author was Jim Rohn.  And it is very possible that Jim Rohn got his quotes or at least the inspiration for the inspirational quotes from someone else.

Nelson Mandela - Inspirational quotes for entrerpreneurs

Nelson Mandela loved to read

Reading, thinking and quiet reflection

Nelson Mandela, who is one the most quoted public figures, has spent a large portion of his 27 years in jail reading from the works of all the big greats in history.  Authors such as Shakespeare, Langenhoven, Edgar Snow, John Steinbeck, Nadine Gordimer, and Tolstoy were high on Mandela’s reading list.

In fact, Mandela himself recalled in his own memoirs that one of the things that made him long back to prison was the fact that he had so little time left for reading, thinking, and quiet reflection after his release.

Inspiration from my father

I have grown up having the utmost respect for my father, who always had these profound words to share with all and sundry. He did not spend time in prison like Mandela, but he preferred reading to parties and socializing.  All his wise words that we often love to quote are a culmination of many years of reading.  So who was really responsible for the inspirational quotes that my father often used on us at home, but also in the speeches that he delivered?

The reality is that most quotes that we believe to be straight from people like Tony Robbins, Mandela, and even my father, are the result of many hours of reading other people’s works and listening to other people’s speeches.   Whether these inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs are straight from the horse’s mouth or the result of authors like Shakespeare, Socrates, or even the Bible, the debate continues.

Jim Rohn - Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs
Jim Rohn – Master of Inspirational Quotes for Entrepreneurs

Same inspirational quote – different nuances

And then there are the different nuances when it comes to inspirational quotes for entrepreneurs.  The Dalai Lama XIV is for instance known for his quote: “know the rules, so that you know how to break them effectively.”  On the other hand, Pablo Picasso is famous for the quote: “know the rules like a pro, so that you know how to break them like an artist.”  Sounds like we need to do some serious digging into history to see who used who’s quote in the first place.

The academic rules of citing an author

One of the reasons why I have never got far with my post-graduate studies was most probably the insanely extended rules of how to research and how to cite the authors.  You need a degree on this matter and even then it is very possible to get it wrong.

The fact that most academics are completely hung up on rules and regulations ad infinitum, is most probably why they very seldom turn out to be great entrepreneurs.  ‘Cause rules can hinder the entire creative process and when it comes to inspiration for entrepreneurs, I do believe that action is more important than rules.

My father often said: “it is better to do the wrong thing fast than never to do the correct thing at all.”  Whether this was his completely original quote, I will never know.  It does however remind me not to dwell on the small stuff that is only of importance for those who have nothing better to do with their time.

My conclusion on who’s inspirational quote for entrepreneurs is it anyway

I personally think as entrepreneurs, we have much better things to do than to argue whether the inspirational quote that Nelson Mandela used, comes from his own genius, Tolstoy, Socrates, or the Bible.  Unless of course we are on a deserted island, with absolutely nothing to do and need to kill time.  Hopefully we’ll have Google at hand for the research.

If I may use a culmination between the Dalai Lama and Pablo Picasso’s quote, I would like to add the following inspirational quote for entrepreneurs:  “know the rules well, so you can break them like a successful entrepreneur”.


We would love to hear your view on the matter.  Leave a comment below or get in contact with us directly. We know how to break the rules.

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