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”

“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)


“Leadership – Ambition and Drive Can Erase Excuses”


“Is leadership inherent or trainable?  Both.  You are born with characteristics that reside deep inside you: drive, an ability to influence and motivate, perseverance.  But you have to develop those qualities through actual leadership experiences.  A key quality is adaptability — facing unexpected obstacles, falling short of goals, reading the context, and changing your approach. Absent that, leaders will continue to repeat mistakes and will not grow and develop.  That leads me to the essence of the question ‘Why is it so hard to lead yourself?’ The answer, in my experience, lies in the differences between your idealized self — how you see yourself and how you want to be seen — and your real self.  The key to growing as a leader is to narrow that gap by developing a deep self-awareness that comes from straight feedback and honest exploration of yourself, followed by a concerted effort to make changes.”    (Bill George, former CEO of Medtronics, Inc., Fast Company, April 2007)



A true leader has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.  He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the quality of his actions and the integrity of his intent.”    (Unknown Author)



“The leadership instinct you are born with is the backbone.  You develop the funny bone and the wishbone that go with it.”   (Elain Agather)



“The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present.”   (James Kouzes, HBR article, “To Lead, Create a Shared Vision.”)



“It’s one of the characteristics of a leader that he not doubt for one moment the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming.”   (Benjamin Zander, The Transformative Power of Classical Music, TED – Ideas Worth Spreading)



“When aspirations are perceived to be achievable, ambition and drive can erase excuses.”    (Lori Myers, No Excuses, The Fit Mind – Fit Body Strategy Book)


“Leaders – Possibilities and Results”

“At the beginning of the day, it’s all about possibilities.

At the end of the day, it’s all about results.”   (Bob Prosen)



“To manage or to coach?  People will manage the work.  By attempting to manage people you are limiting their potential.  A manager is a title, it does not guarantee success.  Coaching is an action, not a title and actions will result in successes!”      (Catherine Pulsifer)



“A true Master is not the one with the most students, but one who creates the most Masters. 

A true leader is not the one with the most followers, but one who creates the most leaders.”    (Neal Donald Walsch)



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



Every 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)



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



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


“The Difficult Can Be Done Immediately”

“On the wall of my room when I was in rehab was a picture of the space shuttle blasting off, autographed by every astronaut now at NASA.  On the top of the picture it says, ‘We found nothing is impossible.’   That should be our motto.”    (Christopher Reeve)



“Leaders provide support when they act as role models.  From the superheroes of our youth to the inspiring figures of adulthood, we’ve all craved having someone to show us how to behave.  This ‘if-I-had-a-pattern-I-could-follow-it’ stems from our earliest way of learning.  As very young children we watched the people around us, imitated their behavior, and learned about how the world worked.  Leaders can support by serving as role models.”    (Chris Clarke-Epstein, 78 Questions Every Leader Should Ask and Answer)



“Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you’re in control, they’re in control.”    (Tom Landry)



” … team member(s) have “different strengths and weaknesses, work-style preferences, blind spots, and hot buttons.  There’s no way a leader can get a team to work together, experts say, without first learning how to work with each person as an individual.  Leadership is a one-on-one sport.”    (Eric Matson, Fast Company Magazine)



“What do leaders … DO?

 First and foremost they assemble and then develop a top-flight team of people.

 Here’s the way I like to put it, which I label “Seven Steps to Sustaining Success”:

  •  You take care of the people.
  • The people take care of the service.
  • The service takes care of the customer.
  • The customer takes care of the profit.
  • The profit takes care of the re-investment.
  • The re-investment takes care of the re-invention.
  • The re-invention takes care of the future.

(And at every step the only measure is EXCELLENCE.)

The obvious point:  Developing people comes first.  It is the ‘That without which there is nothing.’

The leader’s job?

Leaders ‘do’ people.”    (Tom Peters)



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


“Leaders – Do You Know Your People?”

“Leadership is not magnetic personality — that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’ — that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”    (Peter F. Drucker)



“Leading yourself is no easy task.  It takes self-discipline, planning, and the opportunity to get the job done.  But leading a team is different – and much more difficult.  It starts with a better understanding of human nature.  As you lead your team, remember that the people on your team will always want five things from you:

  • Authenticity that enables a solid connection.
  • Confidence that empowers and inspires them.
  • Awareness and ability to meet people’s needs.
  • Ability to lead with strategic direction.
  • Moments of victory during the journey.

If you provide those five things, people will always have good reason to follow you.”    (Teamwork Makes the Dream Work, John C. Maxwell)



“So, you want to change your people!  Do you know your people?  If you don’t know your people, there won’t be any understanding.  With no understanding, there’s no trust.  With no trust, no change.  If you don’t love your people, there won’t be passion for change.  With no passion, no value for taking risks.  If people don’t take risks, there won’t be any changes.  So, if you want to change your people, you have to know them … .”    (Mother Theresa)


“Leader, Boss, Manage”


“My completely random thought for today has been about the features of the best and worst bosses I had during my long … career.

My best bosses:

▪  inspired confidence

▪  were humble

▪  had integrity

▪   knew what they were talking about

▪  let me get on with things

▪  were always there when I needed help

▪  usually said ‘yes, try it’


My worst bosses:

▪  never seemed to be around when I needed them

▪  always asked me to justify what I wanted to do

▪  always wanted to know what I was doing

▪  often said ‘no, we can’t do that’

▪  gave the impression of being distrustful

▪  didn’t smile much

▪  talked about themselves a lot”   (Trevor Gay, Simplicity Blog)



“The boss drives people; the leader coaches them.  The boss depends on authority; the leader on good will.  The boss inspires fear; the leader inspires enthusiasm.  The boss says ‘I’; the leader says ‘WE’.  The boss fixes the blame for the breakdown; the leader fixes the breakdown. The boss says, ‘GO’; the leader says ‘LET’S GO!’    (H. Gordon Selfridge)



“A boss creates fear, a leader confidence.  A boss fixes blame, a leader corrects mistakes.  A boss knows all, a leader asks questions.  A boss makes work drudgery, a leader makes it interesting.  A boss is interested in himself or herself; a leader is interested in the group.”   (Russell H. Ewing)



“People ask the difference between a leader and a boss.  The leader works in the open, and the boss in covert. The leader leads, and the boss drives.”    (Theodore Roosevelt)



“You manage things; you lead people.”    (Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper)


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