55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action

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“The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create — so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off… They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.” – Pearl Buck

“F@*# self-doubt. I despise it. I hold it in contempt, along with the hell-spawned ooze-pit of Resistance from which it crawled. I will NEVER back off. I will NEVER give the work anything less than 100%. If I go down in flames, so be it. I’ll be back.” -Steven Pressfield

“Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.” -Rita Mae Brown

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution”—Clay Shirky

“I am not afraid…I was born to do this.” – Joan of Arc

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~Antoine De Saint Exupery

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” – J. K. Rowling

“Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a f@*$%load of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.” – Dave Eggers

“Adversity is just change that we haven’t adapted ourselves to yet.” -Aimee Mullins

“The secret of life…is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.” – Paulo Coelho, from The Alchemist

“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller

“Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get — only what you are expecting to give — which is everything. What you will receive in return varies. But it really has no connection with what you give. You give because you love and cannot help giving.” – Katharine Hepburn

“Far better to live your own path imperfectly than to live another’s perfectly.” -Bhagavad Gita

“I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others… I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent” – Thomas Edison

“The soul should always stand ajar. Ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.” – Emily Dickinson

“To get the truth, you want to get your own heart to pound while you write.” – Robert McKee

“There is something deep within us that responds to those who level with us, who don’t suggest or compromise for us.” -Susan Scott, Fierce Leadership

“Each moment of our life, we either invoke or destroy our dreams.” -Stuart Wilde

“I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.” -Pearl S. Buck

“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.” -Goethe

“When I was in the middle of writing Eat Pray Love and I fell into one of those pits of despair that we will fall into when we’re working on something that’s not coming and we think ‘this is going to be a disaster, this is going to be the worst book I’ve ever written — not just that but the worst book ever written … So I just lifted my face up from the manuscript and I directed my comments to an empty corner of the room and I said aloud ‘ Listen you, thing! You and I both know that if this book isn’t brilliant that is not entirely my fault, right? Because you can see I am putting everything I have into this, I don’t have any more than this, so if you want it to be better then you’ve got to show up and do your part of the deal, OK? But you know what? If you don’t do that then I’m going to keep writing because that’s my job and I would please like the record to reflect today that I showed up and did my part of the job!” — Elizabeth Gilbert

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve” -Albert Einstein

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can chagne the world.” – Margaret Mead

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart,…you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs

“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” -Soren Kierkegaard

“I thought how unpleasant it is to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse, perhaps, to be locked in.” -Virginia Woolf

“People who don’t take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year, people who do take risks generally make about 2 big mistakes a year” -Peter Drucker

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

“It’s not about breaking the rules. It is about abandoning the concept of rules altogether” – Paul Lemberg

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” -Leo Burnett

“You can make mistakes, but you are not a failure until you blame others for those mistakes.” -John Wooden

“There’s only us, There’s only this, Forget regret, Or life is your to miss” – Mimi, Rent

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” –Marianne Williamson

“Don’t hire a dog, then bark yourself” -David Ogilvy

“Nobody cares if you can’t dance well. Just get up and dance. Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.” – Martha Graham

“The only thing all successful people have in common is that they’re successful, so don’t waste your time copying “the successful strategies” of others.” -Seth Godin

“…before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World test everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward that dream. It’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the desert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon.'” -Paulo Coehlo

“Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.” – Erica Jong

“Bold action in the face of uncertainty is not only terrifying, but necessary in the pursuit of great work. ” – Jonathan Fields

“The only thing I fear more than change is no change. The business of being static makes me nuts.”  -Twyla Tharp

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Everything we say signifies; everything counts, that we put out into the world. It impacts on kids, it impacts on the zeitgeist of the time.” –Meryl Streep

“What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Before you agree to do anything that might add even the smallest amount of stress to your life, ask yourself: What is my truest intention? Give yourself time to let a yes resound within you. When it’s right, I guarantee that your entire body will feel it.” -Oprah Winfrey

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” — Aristotle

“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”  – Mark Twain

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman

“It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.” — Roger von Oech

“We all operate in two contrasting modes, which might be called open and closed. The open mode is more relaxed, more receptive, more exploratory, more democratic, more playful and more humorous. The closed mode is the tighter, more rigid, more hierarchical, more tunnel-visioned. Most people, unfortunately spend most of their time in the closed mode. Not that the closed mode cannot be helpful. If you are leaping a ravine, the moment of takeoff is a bad time for considering alternative strategies. When you charge the enemy machine-gun post, don’t waste energy trying to see the funny side of it. Do it in the “closed” mode. But the moment the action is over, try to return to the “open” mode—to open your mind again to all the feedback from our action that enables us to tell whether the action has been successful, or whether further action is need to improve on what we have done. In other words, we must return to the open mode, because in that mode we are the most aware, most receptive, most creative, and therefore at our most intelligent.” -John Cleese

“The things we fear most in organizations—fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances—re the primary sources of creativity.” — Margaret J. Wheatley

“Too much of our work amounts to the drudgery of arranging means toward ends, mechanically placing the right foot in front of the left and the left in front of the right, moving down narrow corridors toward narrow goals. Play widens the halls. Work will always be with us, and many works are worthy. But the worthiest works of all often reflect an artful creativity that looks more like play than work.”— James Ogilvy

“In my experience, if you steer clear of dogma and muster up more love than you thought you had to give, then your vitality increases, satisfaction sets in, sweetness surfaces. I believe in the creative power of good feelings. I’m convinced that the desire to be real is everyone’s divine imperative.” -Danielle LaPorte

“Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.” -Guy Kawasaki

“Clarity of painting comes from clarity of vision. A painter has to be emotionally right out there and present, both to perceive and to express.” –Kate Palmer

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59 responses

59 responses to “55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action”

  1. Brett says:

    Great collection of quotes, JF! Nice way to sneakily quote yourself too 😉

  2. Tim Brownson says:

    Holy plagiarism Batman I’m half way through wiring a post like this for next week. Have you been reading my mind again and stealing my ideas you SOB Fields? Or is that monkey that appeared out of the blue with a flip camera and insists on filming everything I do something to do with you?

    Anyway I’m arrogant enough to throw my own quote in for good measure because I’m that kind of guy.

    There is no how it is, there’s only how it is for you.

    I begrudgingly admit it’s a nice list 😉

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  4. Thanks for this list! I have a TON of quotes saved on my laptop and am always happy to add more. Mind if I share one that keeps me writing, too?

    “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
    Henry Van Dyke

  5. Kirk Kittell says:

    Good list, Jonathan — it’s hard to go wrong with a list that has both Mark Twain and John Cleese. I hope it’s not too conceited to suggest two more to your list but, hey, they’re excellent books and you might enjoy reading them as much as I did.

    From Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up:

    “Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.”

    And from Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut:

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

  6. Calming says:

    These are awesome. What a wonderful collection of quotes. I am inspired THANK YOU!

  7. Great list! Thanks for sharing, Jonathan!

    Two of my favorites:

    “It is not what you look at that matters, it is what you see.”
    -Henry David Thoreau

    “Cease to be a drudge. Seek to be an artist.”
    -Mary McLeod Bethune

  8. Hugh says:

    Awesome list – thanks for sharing, Jonathan! I love the simple ones the best, this one being my favorite on your list right now:

    “I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” – Diane Ackerman

    My day just got a whole lot better.

  9. Wow . . . I’m a bit of a quote snob but this is a wonderful smorgasbord of a list – if you can’t find inspiration or juice to stoke your creativity here, you need a lobotomy! Thanks too for including some oldies but goodies like the Leo Burnett quote. . . Hmmmm, may have to include one in the enewsletter I’m working on right now. – Jan Liverance

    P.S. I’ll bet it’s hotter and steamier here in the NYC metro area than it is in Bali right now!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Yeah, I tend to be a fan of some not-so-often-quoted-yet-time-tested wisdom. And, yes, it’s way hotter in NYC than it was in Bali…who’d a thubnk? lol

  10. I am adding these to HootSuite right now and will schedule one a day until I go through them all. Great tool to schedule and post tweets, Facebook wall posts, LinkedIn, etc (by the way) I have a file of about 200 of these so far.

  11. Hey Jonathan, quotes have such a uniquely powerful quality built into them (good ones anyway). They are like little capsules of wisdom that float around in our minds making a big impression. I always find it interesting when a list like this is compiled. I think it provides a glimpse of insight into the person who gathered them together. Great list, thanks!

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Haha, I agree with that qualified – “the good ones.” I love quotes, because they reveal not only knowledge, but a small slice of the worldview of the writer.

  12. […] 55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action #SocialMedia Jump to Comments “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking, and don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart,…you’ll know when you find it.” — Steve Jobs via jonathanfields.com […]

  13. Miss Amanda Jones (nom de plume aka chongolo on su) says:

    Oh Jonathan…what a wonderful page to wake up to. Bless you. I just have to give a dance to Saint Exupery ~ a gem amongst a cornucopia of gems. “The Little Prince” is one of my favorite books. In French, preferably.

    I eagerly await all your reports from Bali. Have just begun reading “When the World Was Steady”, Claire Messud, which has been on my “to read” stacks for a while waiting for the right moment, mainly because it is set in Bali in some part.


  14. Joe Wilner says:


    This is a great collection of quotes. I’m always looking for new and inspirin quotes, so I’m glad I ran across this post. There are some new thoughts that I haven’t considered in this list. How did you pick these quotes?

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      I collect quotes all the time, in part because I like what they say, but also because I enjoy how they’re crafted. Most of these were pulled from my collection. This list is about being creative and taking risks, so that’s the content I was looking for. And, I also wanted to make sure I had a balance of wisdom from both women and men when compiling this particular list as well.

  15. michelle says:

    it’s a great list ’til the very end…

    “Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.” -Guy Kawasaki


    all this attitude does is encourage not being accountable for what you put out there. in other words, take the money and run.

    “we’re revolutionaries” is probably what the financial sector said as they drained the economy. not sure we need more of that in the world.

    • Jonathan Fields says:

      Hey michelle, appreciate your thoughts. Guy’s quote was included because it touches on one of the greatest challenges creative minds have…releasing there output into the world. His labeling of the product as crappy was tongue in cheek.

      The bigger point was that there comes a time when every creative entrepreneur or team has to go public with what they’ve got and, if the product and market fit the ship and improve model, trust that they’ll be able to enhance it to where it needs to be over time.

      Apple’s been following this strategy for decades now, they still do with every release, including the iphone and ipad, and it’s worked very well for them.

      Creatives like artist and authors operate differently, they can’t really ship and fix, so Guy’s comments were more about creative-driven entrepreneurs.

  16. Actually, I think Guy Kawasaki’s quote is pretty wise… but then I tend toward perfectionism. (And being accountable is, agree, very important!)

    My lifelong challenge is to let myself “ship” before achieving perfection (which, of course, never comes).

    It’s a great exercise, and I have to say I’ve shipped/produced a helluva lot more stuff than I would have otherwise.

    And a lot of it turned out to be a helluva lot better than I originally thought, too.

    Funny the way that happens.

  17. alwaysLovely says:

    JF, thanks for sharing those quotes. I especially love this one:
    “Don’t worry, be crappy. Revolutionary means you ship and then test… Lots of things made the first Mac in 1984 a piece of crap – but it was a revolutionary piece of crap.” -Guy Kawasaki

  18. […] Click here for 55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action. […]

  19. Woodward says:


    Amazing collection. Bravo.

    I’m curious, as an avid quote collector myself, where did you amass such a great list from? Do you have a favorite source or is this just your collection over many years?


  20. Jane says:

    Thanks everyone. I was just writing a blog post on the beautiful curse of a creative life as I sit here, overwhelmed by all the blank canvases I’ve put in front of myself and not knowing which step to take next and why I’m even doing it. And then things like this come to you when you most seem to need them.

  21. […] 55 Quotes To Spur Creativity […]

  22. Christina says:

    Love you collection especially this one:

    “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” – George Bernard Shaw

    There’s so many of them that I have to bookmark your site, I love quotes actually…

  23. Guy Farmer says:

    Thank you for the wonderful quotes Jonathan. I’ve found that letting go of the need to satisfy our egos or do things a certain way for fear of looking dumb can free us up to explore in new ways. Creativity is beneficial to any business or organization because it suggests new approaches and possibilities. Thinking in new ways simply gives us more options to choose from. Leaders are well served as well by encouraging creativity as a way to help their organizations move forward.

  24. […] 55 Quotes to Inspire Creativity – that’s one a week, with a couple left over… Share and Enjoy: […]

  25. […] list of 55 quotes to ‘inspire creativity, innovation and […]

  26. Thanks for the list of quotes. A lot of times, I’ll get bogged down in one genera, such as rap quotes. Reading lists like these I realize there’s much more out there. There are some pretty spiritual quotes here. Thanks again!

  27. […] you need a little more creative boost, a kick in the pants, a whack on the head, here’s some quotes to post all over your house!  Here’s one I am applying right now: “I don’t wait for […]

  28. […] you need a little more creative boost, a kick in the pants, a whack on the head, here’s some quotes to post all over your house!  Here’s one I am applying right now: “I don’t wait for […]

  29. praveen says:

    nice quotes put on some more like this

  30. great quotes… they are indeed motivational, thanks!

  31. […] Crochet Quote: Creativity July 28, 2011 – 12:40 pm No Comments TweetToday’s crochet quote isn’t about crochet, per se, but it’s about creativity which I think is a hugely important part of crochet for most of us. It is by Rita Mae Brown and I saw it on the Jonathan Fields blog. […]

  32. What a wonderful video and inspiration! Thank you I needed that today 🙂

  33. […] 55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action […]

  34. LOVE these. just what i needed. thank you jonathan!

  35. […] Lesson 4: Learn from the words of others ~ 55 Quotes To Inspire Creativity, Innovation and Action […]

  36. Mias Muller says:

    Hi JF
    I loved reading this, found your blog through a youtube video about your Ted x talk.

    My personal all time favourite…

    If you believe you can, or, If you believe you can’t, Your probably right.

    Keep on giving

  37. shashi shekhar says:

    in one way or other,creativity is destruction.

  38. […] Looking for more creativity quotes? Check out Marelisa’s Abundance Blog or Jonathan Fields blog […]

  39. Manish Guha says:

    You have a nice thing going here JF. Read it for business purposes today. Will read it again for pure recreation someday.

  40. Amie says:

    I just discovered your blog site tonight Jonathan, thanks for the wonderful quotes. I use one from Pearl S. Buck and added your URL in my blog, too. It was so fitting with the big idea I am working on right now. Well, I hope to inspire the citizens of the world to help raised 5million for the food banks around the world. I hope it’s okey for me to use some quotes. I’m kind of new to the blogging word and still learning my way through. Thanks again. If this is not okey let me know, Jonathan.

  41. I am falling for your site and your incredible blog posts! Brilliantly done. Appreciatively, Lynn

  42. Alberto Paush says:

    I came across a nice quote about continuous creation:

    “If you see something that looks complex, its a sign that you are looking at unfinished product and there is more to come ” – Abhishek Parolkar

  43. nidhi says:

    “The only thing I fear more than change is no change. The business of being static makes me nuts.” -Twyla Tharp

    this was the best Jonathan…

    Change is inevitable and progressive

    No change is primarily no gain of any sort

  44. Tristan says:

    “What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

    This was a big one for me.. Thank you for these!

  45. Balaji says:

    I am just awestruck and completely captivated by the quotes being published and wanna add this.. A leader is someone who knows the way , goes the way and shows the way..