Happy New Year! Let us hope and pray that we have a more civil and tranquil year than the previous one. With the advent of the pandemic (COVID-19), political chaos and instability from the presidential election, rioting, looting and civil unrest, it is incumbent to embrace the new year with hope and inspiration, and, more importantly, love for one another.

As illustrated by Life Grows, “Let your smile change the world but don’t let the world change your smile.”

Embracing that philosophy of changing the world with your smile and with eidetic aplomb, I would like to start the new year with 15 of my favorite inspirational leadership quotes and then make my comments in parenthesis on how to add this to your leadership domain.

1. “One of the sincerest forms of respect is actually listening to what the other person has to say.” — Unknown source. (It has been said that a great conversationalist is one that listens, and that is why we have two ears and only one mouth. “To be interesting, be interested,” as Dale Carnegie once articulated. Remember, respect is earned and not automatically given. Be worthy by giving respect, and your will earn it in return.)

2. “Give people permission to make mistakes and the obligation to learn from them.” — Leadership First. (Great leaders allow their direct reports the opportunity to make mistakes. However, it is not the mistakes that make you grow; rather it is the opportunity to learn from them and not repeat them that elevates you to the next tier of excellence.)

3. “People with great passion can make the impossible happen.” — Leadership First. (Passion is contagious, and when passion meets preparation, not only great things happen but often you can achieve the impossible.)

4. “Be a reflection of what you would like to receive. If you want love, give love. If you want the truth, be truthful. If you want respect, give respect. What you give out will always return.” — Kristen Butler. (As Gandhi often expressed, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Therefore, what you give out is what you will receive. It is a natural law of the universe.)

5. “The greatest gift of leadership is a boss who wants you to be successful” — Jon Taffer. (Diamond-leaders know the importance of giving their direct reports the kudos for success, and, as leaders, take the blame when things go wrong. Remember this truism, as expressed by John Maxwell, “Success is when you add value to yourself, significance is when you add value to others.” I would rather be significant than successful.)

6. “No matter how big your house is, or how big your bank account is, our graves will always be the same size. Stay humble.”Lessonslearnedinlife.com. (Death is the great equalizer in life. As expressed in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” … “All that you can take with you is that which you have given away.” Therefore, give away a legacy of leaving something in someone [character and faith], rather than just leaving someone something material.)

7. “Beautiful things happen when you distance yourself from negativity.”Livehappy.com. (Negativity breeds contempt and selfish behavior that repels people. Instead, be a light in this darken and broken-sinful world and watch your influence escalate by helping others with a positive outlook and demeanor.)

8. “The hardest thing to do is leaving your comfort zone. But you have to let go of the life you are familiar with and take the risk to live the life you dream about” — T. Arigo. (Olympians leave a life of complacency and work towards a life of being a champion. Success does not come easy, and diamond-level leaders envision the life they want and then move toward accomplishing the task at hand. Mediocrity kills excellence every day of the week. Leave mediocrity behind and pursue a path of excellence.)

9. “We do not need a title to lead. We just need to care. People would rather follow a leader with heart than a leader with a title.” — Craig Groeschel. (People are more concerned with your heart and passion than your title. Great leaders ignite people’s passions with the vision and mission of the organization. Diamond organizations excel at the ignition of passion coupled with purpose.)

10. “Sometimes the right path is not the easiest one.” — Leadership First. (The easiest route is not often the most fulfilling or even the correct path. If, indeed, the joy is in the journey and not the destination, then choose the path that will instill in you a spirit of excellence through hard work and dedication to your purpose.)

11. “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.” — Frederick Douglass. (World champions and diamond-level leaders know that success comes through the struggle, and, as a result, excellence is achieved.)

12. “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” — William James. (It has been said, “to be enthusiastic, you must act enthusiastic.” Therefore, what the mind conceives and believes, it can achieve. First, believe you can accomplish the goal and then set out to accomplish it.)

13. “Sometimes you never know the value of a moment, until it becomes a memory.” — Dr. Suess. (The value of the moment is like quicksand in the times of eternity. It comes and goes with a blink of an eye. Value the moment and experience and then reflect upon how you can replicate the lessons learned and then pay it forward.)

14. “Tough times never last, but tough people do.” — Dr. Robert Schuller. (As Rocky Balboa once said in the movie “Rocky” … “Life will knock you down, and it’s not how hard you get knocked down but how hard you get back up and keep going. …”)

15. “Happiness is not by chance, but by choice.” — Jim Rohn. (Happiness is like a habit; you must do it repeatedly. Remember, to be happy, you must choose to act happy. It is always a choice.)

In final analysis, inspiration always emanates from within. We must assert ourselves to the mindset of Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi, of the Green Bay Packers. Upon meeting his team for the first time, he eloquently said, “We must pursue perfection knowing full well we will not attain it, but in the process, we will catch excellence.” My wish for all of you this year is a year of happiness, health, peace and excellence.

Dr. Edward Piatt, Ed.D., MBA, is a retired manager from the state of Illinois with 32 years of frontline leadership experience. He is an adjunct professor of business in the MBA and MOL programs at Olivet Nazarene University, and a doctoral advisor and adjunct doctoral professor at Trevecca Nazarene University. He is also an organizational-economic development consultant and lectures frequently on Emotional Intelligence, organizational culture and leadership. He can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com or directly at epiatt@olivet.edu.