Inspiration is a key component affecting personal change—which often has a direct effect on business—and everyone from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry to Bruce Lee has had something to say about it. Great businesses are usually built around great leaders, which is why when those leaders are inspired, the business tends to grow organically.
In Praise of Personal Growth
Positive reinforcement and motivation are two methods that enable growth to realize its full potential. Leaders amass a following by inspiring their disciples, recognizing personal growth as a tool for change.
- "Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together." —James Cash Penney, founder of JCPenney
- "For me, the most fun is change or growth. There are definitely elements of both that I like. Launching a business is kind of like a motorboat: You can go very quickly and turn fast." —Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com
- "Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth." —Tom Barrett, politician
- "Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.” —Andy Rooney, radio/TV writer and personality
- "Growth is a spiral process, doubling back on itself, reassessing and regrouping." —Julia Margaret Cameron, British photographer
- "Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth." —John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the United States
- "Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential." —Bruce Lee, martial arts instructor, actor, film director
- "Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death." —Albert Einstein
- "The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership." —Harvey S. Firestone, founder, Firestone Tire and Rubber Company
- "Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning." —Benjamin Franklin
- "There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder." —Ronald Reagan, 40th president of the United States
- "Growth itself contains the germ of happiness." —Pearl S. Buck, author
- "Growth, in some curious way, I suspect, depends on being always in motion just a little bit, one way or another." —Norman Mailer, author, actor, and politician
- "You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.” —Abraham Maslow, psychologist, creator of Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- "Success works as a cycle—growth and contraction, balancing and unbalancing—all while you're encountering hurdles that get higher and higher over time.” —Julien Smith, author, "The Flinch"
- "Turnaround or growth, it's getting your people focused on the goal that is still the job of leadership." —Anne M. Mulcahy, former chairperson and CEO, Xerox Corporation
- "You need in the long run for stability, for economic growth, for jobs, as well as for financial stability, global economic institutions that make sure that growth to be sustained has to be shared, and are built on the principle that the prosperity of this world is indivisible." —Gordon Brown, former U.K. prime minister
- "Growth comes out of a healthy competitive atmosphere, not trying to choose a particular path forward." —Edward Felten, Princeton University professor of computer science and public affairs
- "Genius is not a possession of the limited few, but exists in some degree in everyone. Where there is natural growth, a full and free play of faculties, genius will manifest itself." —Robert Henri, artist, teacher at the Art Students League of New York
- “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.” —Karen Kaiser Clark, author, motivational speaker
- "There is no growth except in the fulfillment of obligations.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author, "The Little Prince"
- "When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” —Dr. Robert Anthony, personal performance consultant
- "Growth is the only evidence of life." —John Henry Newman, Catholic cardinal, leader of the Oxford Movement
Dangers of Growth
Despite the obvious benefits of personal growth such as improved productivity and renewed purpose, some people recognized that not all growth is used for good, and cautioned against chasing growth in order to gain power or undue influence.
- "Infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility." —E. F. Schumacher, British economist
- "All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward." —Ellen Glasgow, novelist
- "An economic system which can only expand or expire must be false to all that is human.” —Edward Abbey, author
- "People have been convinced that growth for growth's sake is a good thing." —Tom Scholz, philanthropist, founder of the rock band Boston
- "Companies that grow for the sake of growth or that expand into areas outside their core business strategy often stumble. On the other hand, companies that build scale for the benefit of their customers and shareholders more often succeed over time." —Jamie Dimon, president and CEO of JPMorgan Chase
- "The ugliest thing in America is greed, the lust for power and domination, the lunatic ideology of perpetual Growth—with a capital G. 'Progress' in our nation has for too long been confused with 'Growth'; I see the two as different, almost incompatible, since progress means, or should mean, change for the better—toward social justice, a livable and open world, equal opportunity and affirmative action for all forms of life." —Edward Abbey, author
- "Growth demands a temporary surrender of security." —Gail Sheehy, author
- "Firms need to ensure that their ability to provide effective customer service keeps pace with their growth. If you're marketing your firm to new customers, you better be able to provide them service when they do business with you." —Arthur Levitt, former chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
- "Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few and not the many." —Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States
- "Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life." —Herbert A. Otto, psychologist and author
- "We find comfort among those who agree with us—growth among those who don't." —Frank Howard Clark, screenwriter
- "Risk is essential. There is not growth of inspiration in staying within what is safe and comfortable. Once you find out what you do best, why not try something else?" —Alex Noble