Self-development

10 Simple and Powerful Lessons From Famous Thought Leaders

by Intelligent Change — 5 min read

10 Simple and Powerful Lessons From Famous Thought Leaders

Being motivated, persistent, accountable, and, of course, productive on the road of chasing your dreams is great, but we all need a little bit of inspiration every now and then. That’s why we’ve prepared an inspirational article for all the busy bees who need to take a couple of minutes to themselves and refresh with simple but powerful stories and productivity quotes from famous people.

Powerful Lessons and Productivity Quotes From Famous People

We usually admire people for their talents, abilities, intelligence, inventions, or the good things they do for the world around them. That’s why many people search for role-models among these outstanding individuals: actors, journalists, musicians, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, activists, writers, scientists, etc. And it’s not just about the output these people give to the world; it’s also about knowing the process: how did they make it in life? What kept them going through hard times? What was their strategy to become successful?

Do you have a role model? What do you look up to in that person?


“They've conquered every mountain, slayed every dragon, and they're still not happy.”

Tim Ferriss

Do you know about the author Tim Ferris? The author of the famous and life-chnaging “Four Hour Work Week”? Tim Ferris is an inspiration on so many levels. He’s persistent, hard-working, talented, eloquent, and successful. But did you know that his above-mentioned book was rejected 25 times before he finally found a publisher who’d accept it? Now that’s what we call persistence.

Choosing an inspirational quote by Tim was difficult, as there are so many great ones. We decided to go with this one, as it’s the perfect introduction to productivity quotes by famous people: it actually speaks about gratitude. You can be the most productive and successful person in the world, but all of that will mean nothing if you don’t take time to appreciate what you have.

For example, Tim uses The Five Minute Journal to practice gratitude and to keep track of all the amazing things that happen to him throughout the days. Read more about how Tim Ferris uses The Five Minute Journal on our blog.


“As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It’s not always a straight line. It’s not always a smooth path.”

Barack Obama

This quote by the former president Barack Obama is so simple, powerful, and the most important of all: true. This man ran the country for eight years, and although it hasn’t been all milk and honey, he’s done a lot. This is something that even his opponents would agree with.

This quote teaches us to be hardworking, patient, and trenchant, and progress will eventually come.


“Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.”

Albert Einstein

We’re all familiar with the science legend, Albert Einstein, but how many people know that he was quite wise life-wise (pun intended)?

Just like science, life is a myriad of trials and errors, and when it comes to our individual destinies, the only one who can experiment the way through to the “right answer” is us. As no one can tell us what’s the right way, we need to bear the burden of making mistakes and figure out what works for us.
Our attitude towards mistakes tells a lot about our character and personality. Are you open to new experiences or do you rather stick to what you know? Are you working on implementing a growth mindset, or are you stuck in a fixed mindset?


“Hack away the unessential.”

Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee, an inspiring Chinese actor, director, martial arts genius, and philosopher created a philosophy around a martial arts system that’s all about reducing movement.

When he speaks about productivity and efficiency, he often means simplicity and minimalism.

That’s what we mean when we speak about The Productivity Planner and the importance of making lists, planning ahead, prioritizing, decluttering: we need to simplify the menial tasks as much as possible and make clear decisions on what’s important so we don’t fall victim to burnout and procrastination.


“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.”

Steven Hawking

This quote by the world’s favorite scientist is also considered true in psychological literature. We often think about intelligence as the ability to solve complex puzzles or mathematical tasks, however, that’s all learnable.

Intelligence means being able to embrace change, adapting to new circumstances, and finding something for yourself in completely new surroundings. This has a lot to do with adopting a growth mindset and being open to new possibilities.

Steven Hawking was born in 1942, and at the peak of his strength and intellectual development, he got diagnosed with ALS. It wasn’t too long before the illness took its toll: he could barely move by himself or talk, and the doctors initially gave him two years to live.

However, Steven Hawking lived until the age of 76, continuously adapting to new circumstances: the necessity to accept help from his wife, the wheelchair, the speech apparatus, etc. Throughout his lifetime, he never stopped researching, thinking, and working on his theory. He gave his best shot and he did it: he adapted.


“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

Aristotle

Although he’s not one of the contemporary thinkers, Aristotle’s quotes never get old. A thought that was applicable to the ancient Greeks, that is still applicable today, must be a thought of great value and truth.

A lot of successful people wake up early in the morning, many of them even before the Sun rises. It’s mornings when we’re the strongest, the sanest, and the most powerful. Early birds do get the worm, even science says so.

Do you have a productive morning routine? Do you spend your mornings hitting the snooze button until it’s time to leave the house, or do you power up with exercise, healthy meals, filling out The Five Minute Journal, or meditating?

Discover how our founders, Mimi and Alex Ikonn spend their mornings to boost productivity.


“If you turn up worrying how you’re going to perform, you’ve already lost.”

Usain Bolt

When life is all about output, productivity, and getting more and more done, it’s so easy for everything to just lose meaning.

The real deal is to learn how to enjoy. To choose the process over the result, focus over productivity, growth over outcomes. If we cherish the experience, success and productivity will come naturally.


"The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you're willing to work."

Oprah Winfrey

There’s a myriad of things you need to do if you want to become successful: set proper goals, figure out a path to achieve those goals, organize your days, weeks, months, and even years, make to-do lists, plan ahead, etc.

But this will all be futile if you’re not ready for action. You can have the perfect plan, but if you’re not the main actor in it, what’s the use?


“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can't accept not trying."

Michael Jordan

Remember how we mentioned that Tim Ferris had to fail to publish his book 25 times before he made it? Did you know that Michael Jordan got kicked off the varsity team in his sophomore year in high school? Or maybe how Bill Gates’ first company was a total disaster, and that Walt Disney was told he lacked talent?

When it comes to outstanding people, we’re presented with their excellence. We see products of their blood and sweat, of never-ending training, sleepless nights, and most important of all: failures.

Persistence is the road to success. If you really want it, you’ll work your way to it.


Final Word

Is break time over? Did you find the productivity quotes from famous people we prepared for you useful and inspiring? Did you pick your favorite one?

Pro tip: find an inspirational quote that drives your motivation to succeed, and write it down somewhere where you tend to look every day. Repeat it as your positivity mantra, especially when it gets tough.

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