Quotes have the potential to be inspiring reminders of the way we want to live our lives. Unfortunately they rarely live up to that potential, amounting instead to little more than meaningless sound bites. They go in one ear—we nod vigorously in agreement like a bobblehead doll—and they go right out the other.
I started thinking about this recently when I came across a quote from Gandhi that seems to be ubiquitous these days: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."
It's a great quote. And a great idea. But I'm willing to bet that for most people, its power gets lost at a big-picture philosophical level.
The real power of that quote comes when we ask ourselves, "OK, what does that mean to me? More specifically, what does that mean to me today? Right here, right now? What decisions do I need to make day in, day out to actually put the meaning of that quote into action?"
Change of any kind seldom comes as a made-for-Hollywood revolution. It comes from the cumulative impact of our everyday choices.
Take a look at that Gandhi quote and ask yourself, "How do I apply that today? How do I apply that tomorrow?"
Try that with your other pet quotes. How do they actually apply to how you live your life on a daily basis? Look past the quick-fix sound bite and start to apply the real meaning in a conscious, rubber-meets-the-road kind of way.
What is your favorite quote? How can you put it to work in your life?
After years as a professional malcontent, Curt Rosengren discovered the power of passion. As a speaker, author, and coach, Rosengren helps people create careers that energize and inspire them. His book 101 Ways to Get Wild About Work and his E-book The Occupational Adventure Guide offer people tools for turning dreams into reality. Rosengren's blog, The M.A.P. Maker, explores how to craft a life of meaning, abundance, and passion.
***If you'd like to get smart, savvy career advice every weekday, sign up for the "On Careers" RSS feed here.