Quotations about   motivation

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I was often humiliated to see men disputing for a piece of bread, just as animals might have done. My feelings on this subject have very much altered since I have been personally exposed to the tortures of hunger. I have discovered, in fact, that a man, whatever may have been his origin, his education, and his habits, is governed, under certain circumstances, much more by his stomach than by his intelligence and his heart.

François Arago (1786-1853) French Catalan mathematician, physicist, astronomer, politician.
Biographies of Distinguished Scientific Men, “The History of My Youth” (1859) [tr. Smyth, Powell, Grant]
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Added on 10-Oct-19 | Last updated 10-Oct-19
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If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Fourth Annual Republican Women’s National Conference, Washington, DC (6 Mar 1956)
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Added on 10-Apr-19 | Last updated 10-Apr-19
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We do what we must, and call it by the best names we can, and would fain have the praise of having intended the result which ensues.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Experience,” Essays: Second Series (1844)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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You can buy a man’s time; you can buy a man’s physical presence at a given place; you can even buy a measured number of skilled muscular motions per hour or day. But you cannot buy enthusiasm; you cannot buy initiative; you cannot buy loyalty; you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds and souls. You have to earn those things.

Clarence Francis (1888-1985) American business executive, food industry consultant
“The Causes of Industrial Peace,” speech, National Association of Manufacturers (4 Dec 1947)
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Sometimes titled "Philosophy of Management".
Added on 17-Nov-17 | Last updated 20-Nov-17
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The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Murder in the Cathedral, Act 1 [Thomas] (1935)
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Added on 15-May-17 | Last updated 15-May-17
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People never move towards revolution; they are pushed towards it by intolerable injustices in the economic and social order under which they live.

Suzanne La Follette (1893-1983) American journalist, author, feminist
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Apr-17 | Last updated 10-Apr-17
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[Capitalism is] the astonishing belief that the nastiest motives of the nastiest men somehow or other work for the best results in the best of all possible worlds.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
(Attributed)

Attributed by Sir George Schuster, Christianity and Human Relations in Industry (1951). Frequently quoted, but no direct citation found. More information here.

Variations:
  • "... the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all."
  • "... the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone."
  • "The great merit of the capitalist system, it has been said, is that it succeeds in using the nastiest motives of nasty people for the ultimate benefit of society." (written by E. A. G. Robinson, Monopoly (1941). (Robinson was a colleague of Keynes.)
Added on 28-Mar-17 | Last updated 28-Mar-17
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Be civil, then, to young and old,
Especially to persons who
Possess a quantity of gold
Which they might leave to you.
The more they have, it seems to me,
The more polite you ought to be.

Harry Graham (1874-1936) English journalist, poet, stage lyricist
“Politeness”
Added on 30-Jan-17 | Last updated 30-Jan-17
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To be a human being means to possess a feeling of inferiority which constantly presses towards its own conquest. … The greater the feeling of inferiority that has been experienced, the more powerful is the urge for conquest and the more violent the emotional agitation.

Alfred Adler (1870-1937) Austrian psychologist
The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler, ch. 3, sec 3 (1956) [ed. Ansbacher]
Added on 22-Nov-16 | Last updated 22-Nov-16
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If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) Scottish evangelist and teacher
“My Utmost For His Highest” (1927)
Added on 28-Oct-16 | Last updated 28-Oct-16
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In giving of thy alms, inquire not so much into the person, as his necessity. God looks not so much upon the merits of him that requires, as into the manner of him that relieves; if the man deserve not, thou hast given it to humanity.

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Enchyridion, Cent. 3, cap. 38
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Added on 9-Sep-16 | Last updated 9-Sep-16
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Let’s not forget that the little emotions are the great captains of our lives, and we obey them without realizing it.

Van Gogh - emotions - wist_info

Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) Dutch painter
Letter to Theo Van Gogh (Jul 1889)
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Added on 10-Nov-15 | Last updated 13-Nov-15
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If you do everything for one reason, then all you have done will become meaningless when the reason does.

James Richardson (b. 1950) American poet
Vectors: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays, #41 (2001)
Added on 6-Nov-15 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
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Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.

Dee W. Hock (b. 1929) American businessman
In M. Mitchell Waldrop, “Dee Hock on Management,” Fast Company (Oct/Nov 1996)
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Added on 6-Nov-15 | Last updated 6-Nov-15
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My test of the real worth of a man as a preacher is when his congregation go away, saying, not, “What a beautiful sermon!” but “I will do something.”

François de Sales (1567-1622) French bishop, saint, writer [a.k.a. Francis de Sales, b. François de Boisy]
(Attributed)
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Added on 7-Jul-15 | Last updated 7-Jul-15
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Change based on principle is progress. Constant change without principle becomes chaos.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
Speech, Republican National Convention, accepting the presidential nomination (23 Aug 1956)
Added on 4-Jun-15 | Last updated 4-Jun-15
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Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish poet, wit, dramatist
The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. 6 (1891)
Added on 12-Mar-15 | Last updated 12-Mar-15
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Talking of the danger of being mortified by rejection, when making approaches to the acquaintance of the great, I observed, “I am, however, generally for trying, ‘Nothing venture, nothing have.'” JOHNSON. “Very true, sir; but I have always been more afraid of failing, than hopeful of success.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (22 Sep 1777)
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In Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)See Heywood.
Added on 13-Jan-15 | Last updated 5-Jan-16
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Our national strength matters, but the spirit which informs our strength matters just as much.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Amherst College (26 Oct 1963)
Added on 12-May-14 | Last updated 12-May-14
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You can’t say, “I won’t write today,” because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, then … you are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer.

Dorothy Catherine "D. C." Fontana (b. 1939) television screenwriter, story editor
(Attributed)
Added on 10-Feb-14 | Last updated 10-Feb-14
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The only difference between me and most people is that I’m perfectly aware that all my important decisions are made for me by my subconscious. My frontal lobes are just kidding themselves that they decide anything at all. All they do is think up reasons for the decisions that are already made.

Rex Stout (1886-1975) American writer
In “Author Rex Stout vs. the FBI,” Interview with Sandra Schmidt, Life (10 Dec 1965)
Added on 9-Jan-14 | Last updated 9-Jan-14
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Man will do many things to get himself loved; he will do all things to get himself envied.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Following the Equator, ch. 21, epigraph (1897)
Added on 19-Jan-10 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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There are two classes [of scientists], those who want to know and do not care whether others think they know or not, and those who do not much care about knowing but care very greatly about being reputed as knowing.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
The Note-Books of Samuel Butler, “Scientists” (1912)

Full text.

Added on 5-Mar-09 | Last updated 5-Sep-19
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He that hath the worst Cause makes the most Noise

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #4203 (1732)
Added on 29-Dec-08 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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Good intentions are no substitute for knowing how a buzz saw works, Ira; the worst criminals in history have been loaded with good intentions.

Robert A. Heinlein (1907-1988) American writer
Time Enough for Love [Lazarus Long] (1973)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 12-May-15
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From his cradle to his grave a man never does a single thing which has any FIRST AND FOREMOST object but one — to secure peace of mind, spiritual comfort, for HIMSELF.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
“What Is Man?” (1906)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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Whenever people say “we mustn’t be sentimental,” you can take it they are about to do something cruel. And if they add, “we must be realistic,” they mean they are going to make money out of it.

Brigid Brophy (1929-1995) Anglo-Irish writer, novelist, playwright
Unlived Life
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 4-Sep-16
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It may be called the Master Passion, the hunger for self approval.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
What Is Man?, ch. 6 (1906)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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I am not a vegetarian because I love animals; I am a vegetarian because I hate plants.

A. Whitney Brown (b. 1952) American comic actor, writer
The Big Picture: An American Commentary (1991)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Sep-16
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