Catalyst Quotes

Compiled by Alex Pena ~ ‘Catalyst’: “to spark, to ignite, energize, mobilize; something that accelerates a reaction (DDI)." Thought-provoking & motivational quotes and stories for you to read, reflect on and move forward in making creative and positive changes in your life.

Archive for the category “Leadership”

“Set the Tone Every Day” / “If Not You, Who?”



“To lead the people, walk beside them.”   (Lao Tzu)




“Set the tone every day.  You may think you can’t change the corporate culture, but you’re actually helping to build it with everything you do and every word you utter.  Your people look to you as a model.  So pay attention to the signals you send about what you value and believe in.”   (Lost & Found, the story of how one man discovered the secrets of leadership, Lyle Sussman, Ph.D., Sam Deep, & Alex Stiber)




“Really believe in your heart of hearts that your fundamental purpose, the reason for being, is to enlarge the lives of others.  Your life will be enlarged also.  And all of the other things we have been taught to concentrate on will take care of themselves.”   (Pete Thigpen, Executive Reserves)




“Every single person you meet has a ‘sign’ around his or her neck that says, ‘Make me feel important.’  If you can do that, you’ll be a success, not only in business but in life as well.”   (Mary Kay Ash)




“Perhaps the ten most important two-letter words ever put together:  ‘If it is to be, it is up to me.’”   (Unknown Author)




“If not you, who?

If not now, when?”   (Abraham Maslow)




“Don’t Let Them Scare You”


“To stay focused in life:

  • You can’t know everyone
  • You can’t do everything
  • You can’t go everywhere

We have to pick and choose between good and a little bit better.”   (John C. Maxwell)



“The number #1 reason to focus –

You will care more about the things that aren’t working yet, you’ll push through the dip, you’ll expend effort and expose yourself to fear.

When you have a lot of balls in the air, it’s easy to just ignore the ones that make you uncomfortable or that might fall.

Success comes from doing the hard part.  When the hard part is all you’ve got, you’re more likely to do it.

And this is precisely why it’s difficult to focus.  Because focusing means acknowledging that you just signed up for the hard part.”   (Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog, 6.6.14)



“Champions have the courage to keep turning the pages because they know a better chapter lies ahead.”   (Paula White)



“Don’t just accept whatever comes your way in life.  You were born to win; you were born for greatness; you were created to be a champion in life.”   (Joel Osteen, Your Best Life Now)



“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.”   (Pema Chodron)



“There was a time in the life of every hero, champion, master, and tycoon when they said to themselves, ‘I will not wait any longer.’

And no matter how near or far away their dream then seemed, they began to take action, every day, no matter what.

No matter what.

And that’s how they got their gig.  Seriously, you should see all the openings in the world today for ‘Rockin’, cool, spiritual beings now inhabiting organic matter to exemplify the infinite possibilities for those who dream and take action.  Pay is out of this world, negotiable, and you choose the currencies. Apply Within.’   (signed) The Universe”    (Mike Dooley, ‘Notes From the Universe’ 6.3.14)



“The first and great commandment is:   ‘Don’t let them scare you.’”   (Elmer Davis)


“Difficult? Done Immediately / Impossible? Takes a Little Longer”


“What would I do if I knew I could not fail?

If I believed, would the wind always fill up my sail?

How far would I go, what could I achieve

Trusting the hero in me?

What would I do today if I were brave?”   (‘If I Were Brave’ –  Words and music by Jana Stanfield and Jimmy Scott)



“The quest for leadership is first an inner quest to discover who you are.

Through self-development comes the confidence needed to lead.

Learning to lead is about discovering what you care about and value.  About what inspires you

About what challenges you.  About what gives you power and competence. 

About what encourages you.  When you discover these things about yourself, you’ll know what it takes to lead in those qualities out of others.”   (The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner)



“A leader defines for the team what kind of moment they’re in. 

Is this a moment of transition?  Is this a dangerous moment? 

Your job as conductor (leader) is to get the orchestra (team) to act together — powerfully.

So what do you do?  You can’t be calling out to people, ‘Act now! Act now!’

That creates disorder.  Instead, you say, ‘Here’s where we’re headed.'”   (Roger Nierenberg, Conductor)



“Ordinary people believe only in the possible.  Extraordinary people visualize not what is possible or probable, but rather what is impossible. And by visualizing the impossible, they begin to see it as possible.”   (Cherie Carter-Scott)



“Your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude.”   (Zig Ziglar)



“The difficult can be done immediately, the impossible takes a little longer.”   (The Army Corp of Engineers)


“Always Follow Your Heart, Unless …”


“The deeper I go into myself the more I realize that I am my own enemy.”   (Floriano Martins)



“How much evil throughout history could have been avoided had people exercised their moral acuity with convictional courage and said to the powers that be, ‘No, I will not.  This is wrong, and I don’t care if you fire me, shoot me, pass me over for promotion, or call my mother, I will not participate in this unsavory activity.’  Wouldn’t world history be rewritten if just a few people had actually acted like individual free agents rather than mindless lemmings?”   (Joel Salatin, Everything I Want to Do is Illegal: War Stories from the Local Food Front)



“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”   (Steve Jobs)



“It doesn’t matter what other people think.  The only opinion that really matters is yours.  We are all the writers of our lives.  We can make our stories comedies or tragedies.  Tales of horror, or of inspiration.  Your attitude and your fortitude and courage are what determine your destiny, Nick.… Life is hard and it sucks for all.  Every person you meet is waging his or her own war against a callous universe that is plotting against them.  And we are all battle-weary.  But in the midst of our hell, there is always something we can hold on to, whether it’s a dream of the future or a memory of the past, or a warm hand that soothes us.  We just have to take a moment during the fight to remember that we’re not alone, and that we’re not just fighting for ourselves.  We’re fighting for the people we love.” [Acheron]   (Sherrilyn Kenyon, Inferno)



“The problem with hit radio.

When you only listen to the top 40, you’re letting the crowd decide what you hear.

And if you consume nothing but the most liked, the most upvoted, the most viral, the most popular, you’ve abdicated responsibility for your incoming. Most people only read bestselling books.  That’s what makes them bestsellers, after all.

The web keeps pushing the top 40 on us.  It defaults to ‘sort by popular,’ surfacing the hits, over and over.

Mass markets and math being what they are, it’s likely that many of the ideas and products you consume in your life are in fact, consumed because they’re the most popular.  It takes a conscious effort to seek out the thing that’s a little less obvious, the choice that’s a little more risky.

Popular is not the same important, or often, not the same as good.”   (Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog, 5.28.14)



“Always follow your heart unless it’s been broken, then you must lead it.  Back into love.  Did you know that hearts are never too big to mend, too small to rebound, or too tired to love?” (signed)  The Universe.”     (Mike Dooley, Notes from The Universe, 5.22.14)


“What Starts Here Changes the World”


Today’s Catalyst Quotes features part of the Commencement Speech given at The University of Texas in Austin (my alma mater) by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.  This is only an excerpt of the speech; however this small part does not convey the full meaning of his speech. He imparts ten lessons that he learned from basic SEAL training with hopes that they would be of value to the graduating class as they move forward in life.  I encourage everyone to click on the link or cut and paste and watch the complete speech.   


“The University’s slogan is, ‘What starts here changes the world.’

I have to admit—I kinda like it.  ‘What starts here changes the world.’

Tonight there are almost 8,000 students graduating from UT.

That great paragon of analytical rigor, Ask.Com says that the average American will meet 10,000 people in their life time.  That’s a lot of folks.

But, if every one of you changed the lives of just ten people—and each one of those folks changed the lives of another ten people — just ten — then in five generations — 125 years — the class of 2014 will have changed the lives of 800 million people.

800 million people — think of it — over twice the population of the United States.  Go one more generation and you can change the entire population of the world—8 billion people.

If you think it’s hard to change the lives of ten people — change their lives forever — you’re wrong.  I saw it happen every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A young Army officer makes a decision to go left instead of right down a road in Baghdad and the ten soldiers in his squad are saved from close-in ambush.

In Kandahar province, Afghanistan, a non-commissioned officer from the Female Engagement Team senses something isn’t right and directs the infantry platoon away from a 500 pound IED, saving the lives of a dozen soldiers.

But, if you think about it, not only were these soldiers saved by the decisions of one person, but their children yet unborn — were also saved.  And their children’s children—were saved.

Generations were saved by one decision—by one person.

But changing the world can happen anywhere and anyone can do it.

So, what starts here can indeed change the world, but the question is … what will the world look like after you change it?


To the graduating class of 2014, you are moments away from graduating. Moments away from beginning your journey through life.   Moments away starting to change the world — for the better.

It will not be easy.

But, YOU are the class of 2014 — the class that can affect the lives of 800 million people in the next century.

Start each day with a task completed.

Find someone to help you through life.

Respect everyone.

Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up — if you do these things, then next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and — what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.”   (Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, at the University-wide Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17, 2014)

Link to Commencement Address:


“Come to the Edge – It’s Fun to Do the Impossible”


Does life suck sometimes?  Absolutely!

Nonetheless, you and only you own your attitude.

Realistically, things may stink to high heaven.

Still, the day is yours to embrace with vigor and good cheer – or not.

Your call.  100%.  Period.

Remember, if you will, the annoying, persistent TPR (Tom Peters Rant):  ‘Excellence. Always.’

If not excellence, what?   If not excellence now, when?”   (Tom Peters)



What, exactly, should you do now? 

You can choose to lead, or not. 

You can choose to have faith, or not. 

Are there thousands of reasons why you, of all people, aren’t the right one to lead? 

Why you don’t have the resources or the authority or the genes or the momentum to lead? 


So what?

You still get to make the choice. 

But once you choose to lead, you’ll discover that it’s not so difficult.”   (Tribes – We Need YOU to Lead Us, Seth Godin)



“You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on our own.

And you know what you know.

And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”   (Dr. Seuss)



“You can choose beliefs that limit you, or you can choose beliefs that support you.”   (Anthony Robbins)



“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.

Boldness has magic, grace, and power in it.”   (Goethe)



“’Come to the edge,’ he said.

They said, ‘We are afraid.’

‘Come to the edge,’ he said.

They came.

He pushed them.

And they flew!”   (Guillaume Apollinaire)



“It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”   (Walt Disney)


“Do Others Believe in You?


“If you wish others to believe in you, you must first convince them that you believe in them.”  (Harvey MacKay)



“Nothing is more important than creating an environment in which people feel they make a difference.  You can’t feel good about what you’re doing unless you think you’re making a difference.”   (Anonymous)



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



“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.”   (Jim Rohn)



Manager or Leader?

People don’t want to be managed.

They want to be led.

Whoever heard of a world manager!  World leader, yes.

Educational leader.  Political leader.  Religious leader. 

Scout leader.  Community leader.

Business leader.

They lead.  They don’t manage.

The carrot always wins over the stick.  Ask your horse.

You can lead your horse to water, but you can’t manage him to drink.

If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself.

Do that well and you’ll be ready to stop managing.

And start LEADING!!”   (Ad in the “Wall Street Journal)



“Leadership is influence.”   (John Maxwell)


“Remember the Alamo”


This post will be different than what I have posted before; however, it does contain quotes on courage, commitment, inspiration and a feeling that we Texans have about our place in the world.  People may see us as arrogant at times but it comes from our history, the fact that we were a country before we joined the Union and fortunately or unfortunately we keep hearing it over and over as we grow up.  At the same time, we take care of our neighbors, hold strong values and raise our children to be the best they can be.  Being a Texan and living in an Antonio, I decided to point out the courage, bravery and inspiration at the Battle of the Alamo.

Many people throughout the world have heard of The Alamo located in San Antonio, Texas.  During a rebellion against Mexico, this Spanish mission was manned by close to 200 defenders comprised of U. S. settlers who had come to Texas and native Texans who were Mexican nationals, referred to as Tejanos. This mission became a major battle ground in the fight for Texas independence from Mexico in 1836.

Today, March 6, is the anniversary of the last day of battle in 1836 in which The Alamo fell under the military forces of Mexico’s General and President Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.  All of the defenders at the Alamo died but the cry “Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for Texans as they continued the battle for independence.

Before the Alamo fell on March 6, Lieutenant Colonel William Barrett Travis wrote and sent the following letter on February 24, 1836 to General Sam Houston for reinforcements as well as stating his commitment to defend The Alamo.      (APena)



“Commandancy of the The Alamo

Bejar, Feby. 24th. 1836

To the People of Texas & All Americans in the World—


Fellow Citizens & compatriots—

I am besieged, by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna — I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man — The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken — I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls — I shall never surrender or retreat.  Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch — The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days.  If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country – Victory or Death.    

William Barrett Travis.

Lt.  Col. comdt.

P. S.  The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels and got into the walls 20 or 30 head of Beeves.”




A quote about Texas and Texans:

“I like Texas and Texans.  In Texas, everything is bigger.  When Texans win, they win big.  And when they lose, it’s spectacular.

If you really want to learn the attitude of how to handle risk, losing and failure, go to San Antonio and visit the Alamo.  The Alamo is a great story of brave people who chose to fight, knowing there was no hope of success against overwhelming odds. They chose to die instead of surrendering.  It’s an inspiring story worthy of study; nonetheless, it’s still a tragic military defeat.  They got their butts kicked.  A failure if you will.  They lost.  So how do Texans handle failure?  They still shout, “Remember the Alamo!”

That’s why I like Texans so much.  They took a great failure and turned it into a tourist destination that makes them millions.

Texans don’t bury their failures.  They get inspired by them.  They take their failures and turn them into rallying cries.  Failure inspires Texans to become winners.  But that formula is not just the formula for Texans.  It is formula for all winners.”   (Robert T. Kiyosaki, Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Children About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Don’t)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~  

“Run, Congress Is In Session!”

In light of what is happening currently with our Government, I thought the following quotations would be appropriate.   (AP)

“Democracy must be something more than two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner.”   (James Bovard, Lost Rights:  The Destruction of American Liberty)



“This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer.”   (Will Rogers)



“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”    (Thomas Jefferson)



“Suppose you were an idiot.  And suppose you were a member of Congress.  But I repeat myself.”   (Mark Twain)  


“No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.”   (Judge Gideon Tucker)


“I went to the store the other day to buy a bolt for our front door, for as I told the storekeeper, the governor was coming here.  ‘Aye,’ said he, ‘and the Legislature too.’  ‘Then I will take two bolts,’ said I.  He said that there had been a steady demand for bolts and locks of late, for our protectors were coming.”   (Henry David Thoreau)


“When I see a congressman giving his opinion on something, I always wonder if it represents his real opinion or if it represents an opinion that he’s designed in order to be elected.  It seems to be a central problem for politicians.  So I often wonder: what is the relation of integrity to working in the government?”   (Richard Feynman)  



 “The most terrifying words in the English language are:  I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”   (Ronald Reagan)



“Example In Influencing Others Is The Only Thing”

“Stephen Covey, in his book The 8th Habit, describes a poll of 23,000 employees drawn from a number of companies and industries.  He reports the poll’s findings:

  • Only 37 percent said they have a clear understanding of what their organization is trying to achieve and why,
  • Only one in five was enthusiastic about their team’s and their organization’s goals,
  • Only one in five said they had a clear “line of sight” between their tasks and their team’s and organization’s goals,
  • Only 15 percent felt that their organization fully enables them to execute key goals,
  • Only 20 percent fully trusted the organization they work for

Then, Covey superimposes a very human metaphor over the statistics.  He says, ‘If, say, a soccer team had these same scores, only 4 of the 11 players on the field would know which goal is theirs.  Only 2 of the 11 would care.  Only 2 of the 11 would know what position they play and know exactly what they are supposed to do.  And all but 2 players would, in some way, be competing against their own team members rather than the opponent.”   (Chip Heath, Made to Stick:  Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die)



“The mismanagement of Human Resources is one of the main reasons that ‘good’ companies never become ‘great.’”    (Jim Collins, Good to Great)



“Most companies that are in life-or-death battles got into that kind of trouble because they didn’t pay enough attention to developing their leaders.”    (Wayne Calloway, former Chairman, PepsiCo)



“The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.”    (Kenneth Blanchard)



“Set the tone.  You may think you can’t change the corporate culture, but you’re actually helping build it with everything you do and every word you utter.  Your people look to you as a model.

So pay attention to the signals you send about what you value and believe in.”    (Lost and Found: The Story of How One Man Discovered the Secrets of Leaderships . . . Where He Wasn’t Even Looking, Lyle Sussman, Sam Deep & Alex Stiber)



“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing.”   (Albert Schweitzer)


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