I’d always been sceptical of Motivational Quotes
I’d always been sceptical of motivational quotes.
Of course, there were exceptions.
President John F. Kennedy’s “Don’t ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” always stuck with me.
Later on I learned that the design of JFK’s quote – that of ‘parallel construction’ where two halves of the claim are attractively balanced – has much to do with it’s wow factor.
After my Mom passed away
After my Mom passed away, I found a small spiral bound notebook titled “Inspirational Quotes” in her desk.
Over the course of a few small pages – in her painstakingly beautiful handwriting – she had written down about a dozen quotes.
As I read each one, I considered the context of the quote in her life.
For a few I understood the context right away – for a time she was a caregiver for both her husband and son (my brother).
Thematically these quotes focused on personal strength.
Maya Angelou’s “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide to not be reduced by them” was one of these.
For the other quotes I realized that the context belonged to my Mom. I couldn’t be sure why they had struck a chord with her.
But I as I read these I felt I was looking down into her well of inspiration – and it inspired me in turn.
I’ve rethought the utility of motivational quotes
Not all motivational quotes are created equal. A quick scan on Pinterest on the topic of ‘motivational quotes’ proves this out.
But when I find one that resonates or inspires, I think first of context.
Who in what situation would benefit from reading this? That’s an interesting empathy exercise.
Reading my Mom’s selections from her little spiralbound notebook gave me insight into what she needed or wanted to hear.
Sometimes I actively seek out quotes that address my own context – what do I need to hear right now to keep the fire burning. Or what can I look at in a new or different way?
A resonant quote – at the right time – gives me a chance to dialogue with myself.
There’s nothing new under the sun
When it comes to human frailty, foibles & emotions, there’s nothing new under the sun.
Someone has experienced what I’ve experienced or felt the way I felt.
I love that some of these folks – whether from ancient times or the present – wanted to share perspective.
Thank you for reading!