Some days are just extra challenging to get motivated and be productive at work. It’s during these times that we can use some encouragement to get back on track.
And what better inspiration than words of wisdom from super-successful people? They also faced similar challenges and had difficulties staying motivated. But they persevered and with hard work attained great levels of success.
Below are 10 inspirational quotes and success stories to help boost your productivity. And remind you of your potential to achieve great things!
1. Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519)
Leonardo da Vinci is mainly known as the famous Italian artist and sculpture. His paintings The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are amongst the most renowned and admired paintings in the world. Millions of people wait in line each year to view his masterpieces.
But did you know that da Vinci was also a famous inventor? He was one of the first to be given the name “Renaissance Man” for his diverse interests and accomplishments. His fields of genius also included science, mathematics, engineering, music, anatomy, astronomy, writing, botany, and cartography.
Some interesting facts about da Vinci:
- He never went to school and was taught at home in reading, writing, and math.
- He left behind dozens of notebooks (estimated at 13,000 pages) of his inventions, observations, notes and diagrams.
- These included the conceptual drawings for the first flying machines which looked similar to helicopters and hang gliders, as well as war machines (such as tanks), bicycles, calculators, musical instruments, boats, studies of the human body, and many more.
- Unfortunately, many of his inventions were not developed due to the limited technology available at the time along with the fact that his contemporaries were not able to easily understand his ideas.
Da Vinci was centuries ahead of his time! Just imagine what he would have been able to accomplish if technology had been more advanced.
2. Bruce Lee (1940 – 1973)
Did you know that Bruce Lee was named one of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century by Time Magazine? And rightly, so, he is still considered to be the most famous and respected martial artist of all time, even 40 years after his death at the young age of 32.
Along with becoming a movie star, cultural icon and revolutionizing the martial arts world, he was also a philosopher, filmmaker, a martial arts instructor and the founder of the technique Jeet Kune Do. At the time, he faced many challenges and barriers including race and nationality (as a Chinese American) to reach the huge levels of success and superstardom.
Here are some interesting facts of the greatest martial artist of all time:
- He was considered to have lightning fast speed, like a superhero. For example, he would place a coin in a person’s hand, snatch it, and replace it with a different coin before the person had a chance to close and open the palm to stop him.
- His martial artist moves were so fast that his films had to be slowed down. The producers didn’t want the audience to miss his moves and think the speed was fake, so they showed a lot of his scenes in slow motion.
- He was the epitome of hard work and dedication. He was constantly training his mind and body in every area to continually improve his skills, focus and reaction time. This is how he was able to become such a strong and powerful martial artist and beating every opponent that he faced.
- He majored in philosophy at the University of Washington and was an avid reader. His home library had over 2000 books and he was always found reading and actively seeking knowledge.
3. Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC)
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist, who had a tremendous influence on Western culture, philosophy and science. Even though 2300 years have passed since his death, Aristotle is still one of the most influential and respected people in history.
He contributed to almost every subject area that existed during his time and he was the founder of many new areas. Below are some examples of his great contributions and facts about his life:
- At the age of 17, Aristotle enrolled in Plato’s prestigious academy in Athens and studied with Plato for 20 years. He then was responsible for personally educating Alexander the Great, and later founded his own school to accept other students.
- He spent most of his life teaching, writing and studying about every field including physics, biology, physics, zoology, poetry, theater, music, linguistics, theater, government and politics.
- He wrote around 200 works, mainly as manuscripts and notebooks, and included records of scientific observations, systematic processes and dialogues.
- His work around philosophy was unparalleled and is considered the first system of philosophy in the Western world.
- Viewed as the founder of formal logic, he was the first to come up with a comprehensive system for deductive reasoning.
- His work and theories in the physical sciences prevailed for almost 2000 years until the discovery of modern physics.
4. Antoine de Saint Exupéry (1900 – 1944)
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was a famous French novelist and a successful pilot. He is best known for his book Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince). He wrote other famous novels about his flights and adventures, and is widely regarded as the “poet of flight” .
Below are just a few of his great accomplishments:
- The Little Prince (published in 1942) is the most translated French book of all time (to over 250 languages). It is also one of the best-selling books in history, with annual sales still continuing at around 2 million copies.
- He earned the highest honor in France as a national hero. He also won numerous literary awards and the US National Book Award.
As a Pilot
- In 1921, he joined the military and learned to fly, becoming a pioneering pilot.
- Starting in 1926, he worked as a commercial postal pilot with airmail routes in Europe, South America and Africa.
- In spite of several crashes, he continued to be a pilot and refused to give up his passion for flying.
- At the start of World War II in 1939, he signed up for the French Air Force, flying missions until Germany invaded and occupied France in 1940.
- He was a decorated pilot and received honors for bravery from the French Air Force in 1940.
- Unfortunately, in 1944, he left on a French mission from Corsica and his plane vanished without a trace. The remains of his plane were found in 1998.
5. Theodore Roosevelt (1858 – 1919)
Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th president of the United States in 1901, and is considered as one of the greatest presidents who brought about reforms in corporate, foreign and ecological policies.
6. Walt Disney (1901 – 1966)
Walter Elias Disney was a famous American motion-picture and television producer and cartoonist. Widely recognized as one of the most influential Americans, his legacy is considered to be eternal, living on through all of his characters, films and theme parks.
Here are some facts you may not have heard about Mr. Disney:
- At the age of 16, Disney dropped out of school to join the military but was denied for being under the required age of 17. So he joined the Red Cross instead and was sent to France to drive an ambulance for a year.
- After completing his Red Cross service, he moved to Kansas City and worked in marketing, creating ads for theaters and magazines. It was during this time that he developed his interest in animation.
- He opened a studio in 1922, Laugh-O-Gram, but unfortunately the business did not take off and he was forced to shut it down in 1923.
- This prompted him to move to Hollywood that same year and opened Disney Brothers Studio with his older brother Roy.
- The first successful character they created was called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927. However, Disney experienced a huge setback when he lost the rights to Universal in a corporate dispute the next year.
- The birth of Mickey Mouse: As a direct result of losing his famous character, Disney began developing the idea for Mortimer Mouse (but it was decided that Mickey Mouse was a better and cuter name).
- And so Mickey Mouse made his first appearance in a 1928 film called “Steamboat Willie,” and became a huge star.
- Walt was the voice of Mickey Mouse until 1974 when he became too busy to keep up with the responsibilities.
- Disney produced propaganda films for the U.S. government and training films for the U.S. military during World War II, featuring Disney characters.
- The initial idea for Disneyland was a small theme park near the Disney studio in Burbank. However, as Disney continued to develop the plans, the concept grew to a large theme park – 160 acres in Anaheim. Disneyland opened in 1955 and was a huge success, with nearly half a million visitors the first year.
- He holds records for winning the most Academy Awards (22) and most nominations (59).
7. Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)
Albert Einstein is undoubtedly the most famous scientist in history. His legacy, image and incredible work in theoretical physics continue to live on, and his name has become synonymous with the term “genius”. He continues to be a huge inspiration for scientists around the world.
Read on for some interesting information about the renowned scientist:
- Einstein was slow to start learning and speaking. He wasn’t able to speak until the age of 3.
- His interest in science was sparked at 5 years old when his father gave him a simple pocket compass. Einstein analyzed the compass and was fascinated with how it worked and the forces required to guide it in a single direction.
- Einstein’s mother was passionate about music and she wanted her son to also develop an interest. So she took Einstein to violin lessons, and his love of Mozart inspired him to play and he continued playing for the rest of his life.
- Einstein published his theory on special relativity in 1905 and then developed the general relativity theory from 1907 – 1915. Together, these theories transformed the theoretical physics and astronomy fields, and superseded previous theories developed primarily by Isaac Newton.
- He also discovered the world’s most famous equation, the mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc² (energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared).
- In 1921, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his “services to theoretical physics”. The award was primarily for his work related to the discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect, which was a huge step in the development of quantum theory. He worked on many other projects and theories and was recognized for his achievements with this award.
Nazi Germany and World War II
- Einstein emigrated to the US in 1933 when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. Being Jewish, he could not return to Germany where he was a professor at the Berlin Academy of Sciences. He became an American citizen in 1940 and lived and worked in Princeton, New Jersey.
- At the start of World War II, Einstein was worried that Germany would develop nuclear bombs before the U.S., and he wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt asking him to approve the development of uranium before Germany could succeed.
- Einstein did not work directly on the Manhattan Project or to create the atomic bomb, but his diagrams outlining the theory of a uranium fission bomb and his formula, E=mc², laid the groundwork for the plans.
- He later mention his regret to Newsweek magazine “had I known that the Germans would not succeed in developing an atomic bomb, I would have done nothing.”
- In 1952, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s premier, asked Einstein to accept the position to become the second president of Israel. Einstein declined the offer because he didn’t think he had sufficient experience to work with people in this type of role.
8. Beverly Sills (1929 – 2007)
Beverly Sills was a famous American opera performer with a soprano voice. She achieved worldwide fame during the prime of her career between the 1950s and 1970s.
Below are some of her achievements as a great opera performer:
- She started singing on the radio at the age of 3 after winning a radio contest. As a child, she studied with an opera voice coach to develop her talent. At age 18, she made her debut at the Philadelphia Civic Opera.
- Along with performances in the U.S., she was also invited to sing worldwide including major cities in Europe and South America.
- Throughout her career, she received many awards including two notable honors: the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1980; and the Handel Medallion in 1973 (New York City’s most prestigious cultural award).
- She retired from the opera in 1980 and went on to a management career with the following roles: the general manager of the New York City Opera, and Chairman of Lincoln Center and the Metropolitan Opera.
- She was recognized for her management skills and regularly appeared on television shows to promote opera to many audiences.
- Sills wrote three autobiographies and received several honorary doctoral degrees from world-renowned institutions such as New York University, Harvard University, the New England Conservatory, and the California Institute of the Arts.
9. Alexander Graham Bell (1847 – 1922)
Alexander Graham Bell was a brilliant inventor, scientist and engineer, and most famously known for inventing the telephone in 1876. He was a leader in the communication revolution and made the first transcontinental phone call from New York to San Francisco in 1915.
Below are more of his accomplishments and notable facts in his life story.
- He was born in Scotland and his family moved to Canada when he was 23 years old.
- Bell’s influences on his life and work came primarily from his family. Both his mother and wife were deaf and his father studied speech and elocution.
- This encouraged his own research studies related to speech and hearing devices, which ultimately led him to develop the telephone.
- Bell worked with various schools for the deaf and was committed to supporting education during his entire life.
- Did you know that Bell beat out an American inventor for the telephone patent by a few hours? It’s true. On February 14, 1876, Bell and an electrical engineer, Elisha Gray, both filed patents with the U.S. Patent Office. Bell filed the application first and the patent was awarded to him.
- In 1877, he formed the Bell Telephone Company with his father-in-law, his assistant, and an investor.
- By 1886 there were telephones in more than 150,000 homes in the U.S.
- However, Bell himself did not find the telephone a necessity because he believed it interfered with his work. He refused to have one in his office.
- Bell was interested in many scientific fields and made incredible advances in optical telecommunications, aeronautics, medical research, alternative fuel sources, metal detectors, hydrofoil watercrafts and many more.
- In 1907 he founded the Aerial Experiment Association, which led to the development of the first plane (named the Silver Dart) to make a powered flight in Canada.
10. Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931)
Thomas Alva Edison is recognized as the most famous and respected inventor in the world. He was a pioneer in the U.S. technology revolution and laid the groundwork for the modern electric world.
He was a remarkable inventor and held over 1000 patents. Some of his most famous inventions include the electric light bulb, the motion picture camera and the phonograph.
Keep reading to find out more information about his great accomplishments:
- His inventions are impressive enough on their own, but their impact on the world are even more significant. His inventions led to the establishment of new major industries including electric power generation and utilities, motion pictures and sound recordings.
- He is credited with the development of the system of electric-power generation and distribution to masses of people, which was a huge development in the industrialized world. His first power station was in New York City.
- Even before he invented the light bulb, Edison founed the “Edison Electric Light Company” in 1876 with the Vanderbilt family and J.P. Morgan. This company is now known as General Electric (GE).
- His remarkable inventions also include a universal stock ticker, battery for electric car, electrical vote recorder, the kinetoscope, telegraph, storage battery, electric pen, dictating machine, and many more.
- Edison worked out of his Menlo Laboratory in New Jersey and he was given the nickname “The Wizard of Menlo Park.” This lab became the first R&D (research and development) lab in the world.
- Edison was also a huge advocate for solar energy and his famous quote is often mentioned: ”I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.”