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20 Martin Luther King Jr. Quotes That Apply to Business

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most notable people in modern history. An American Christian minister and activist, King is famous for being a visible spokesperson and leader during the Civil Rights Movement from 1955 until 1968 when he was assassinated. King is famous for his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and for winning the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance in 1964.

During his time as a prominent figure, King said many things that were motivational and inspiring. Here are 20 of the best Martin Luther King Jr. quotes that apply to business.

20. On Celebrating the Positive in Your Business

“Only in the darkness can you see the stars”.

In this quote by Martin Luther King Jr. that is listed on Awaken the Greatness Within, he highlights the importance of celebrating the positives even during the most difficult times. In fact, it is only by experiencing some challenging times in your business that you can truly appreciate the positives, such as your progress and achievements.

19. On Having the Courage to Succeed

“We must build dikes of courage to hold back the flood of fear”.

The easy route in life is to work for someone else’s business. To start your own business takes a lot of courage. In this quote, King encourages people to overcome their fears and to have some courage. This is what is needed if you intend to launch your own successful business. Unless you demonstrate this courage, you will never know if you can achieve your dreams.

18. On Maintaining a Happy Workforce

“Peace is not merely……a means by which we arrive at that goal”.

It is a well-known fact that a happy workforce is a productive workforce, and this quote reinforces this moral. To get the most out of your team, you need to make sure that your team is always happy and motivated. This can help to get your team working together and striving towards the same goal. If there is no peace within a team and people are not happy to work together, it can hamper the progress and success of your business.

17. On Successful Leadership

“A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus”.

One of the primary aims of a business leader is to get their team working towards the same end goal. This King quote describes how a good leader is one who can get a team working together towards the same goals. The ability to motivate a group of people is a vital quality that is typical of successful leaders.

16. On Not Allowing Negativity to Stand In Your Way

“Let no man pull you low enough to hate him”.

There are many things that can hinder the success of a business and allowing negativity to stand in your way is one of these. Negativity can often arise if you have a competitor that is doing better than you and you allow the situation to leave you feeling negative. Instead of letting the achievements of others and negative thoughts stand in your way, you should focus on your own achievements and the positive aspects of your business. Allowing negativity to intrude on your business will lead to negative outcomes.

15. On the Importance of Communication

“People fail to get along…….because they have not communicated with each other”.

Communication is one of the most important elements of running a business of any size and in any industry. To enhance the communication in your team, it is vital that everyone gets to know each other. Learning more about each individual’s strengths and weaknesses can help you to make good decisions about how to utilize people in the workforce and learning what makes people tick can improve your chance of your business running smoothly. Make sure you and your team have opportunities to get to know each other better to improve communication.

14. On Making Change for the Sake of Progress

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle”.

Throughout the life of a business, change is inevitable. This is something that good business leaders should not only accept, but also welcome. However, it is also important for business leaders to note that change does not happen alone, and it can take hard work and a struggle to achieve changes that have a positive outcome for a business.

13. On Teamwork

“Whatever affects one directly…….. interrelated structure of reality”.

Whenever there is more than one person working in a business, teamwork becomes a vital part in either the success or failure of a business. Each individual within a team is equally important, regardless of their seniority within a company as they all have a part to play in the function of a business. It is important as a leader to remember this, and to also remember that anything that impacts one person in the team can have wider implications for a team as a whole.

12. On Leadership in Challenging Times

“The ultimate measure of a man is not………………times of challenge and controversy”.

The sign of a good leader is not how they lead when a business is succeeding, but how they lead during challenging times. It is at these times that a business leader must stand up and lead a time through a crisis. They must lead by example, give their team motivation, and face up to every difficult situation as it arises. According to King, it is how a person faces the difficult times that is a measure of their true worth.

11. On Making the Right Decisions

“The time is always right to do what is right”.

As a leader in business, there are always decisions to make. Some of these are trivial decisions, and others are huge decisions that will have a serious impact on your business and potentially change its course forever. Many decisions have an ethical or moral focus, and these are some of the trickiest to make. This quote from King encourages you not to wait to make the decision to do the right thing. It is possible that the perfect time will never come, so now is always the right time to do the things that you know are right.

10. On Having Passion and Belief

“If a man has not discovered something he will die for, he isn’t fit to live”.

If you have no passion for your business and you do not believe that you can succeed, then you are set on a path to failure. It is only by having passion for what you do that you can remain motivated enough to push your business to the next level. A lack of passion for and belief in your business will lead to stagnancy and a lack of motivation for what you do.

9. On Learning from the Success of Others

“We are not makers of history. We are made by history”.

Even if your business idea is completely original, the dynamics and day-to-day running of a business have changed very little over time. Regardless of the introduction of technology into most businesses, the processes and goals are often the same as they were decades ago. This means that there is a lot that current business owners and leaders can learn from the business leaders of the past. Taking a look at the achievements and failures of those who have gone before them is an important lesson from which those in business today can learn.

8. On Putting Effort Into Your Business

“Whatever your life’s work…….. could do it no better”.

Running a business is rarely an easy ride, and achieving success is not something that will happen without any effort on your part. Putting your greatest effort into every tasks is essential if you want your business to succeed, says Entrepreneur. Consistency in the amount of effort you put into tasks is vital, and you should always try to complete each task to the best of your ability.

7. On Overcoming Hurdles

“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.

In business, there always hurdles to overcome. says that this quote helps you to face the fact that you will have many setbacks along the way, no matter what you are trying to accomplish. Facing these challenges is an important part of the journey to eventually achieving success.

6. On Launching a Business

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase”.

Some people are afraid to take the first step into launching a business. Likewise, if they have already launched their business, they are afraid to begin a new project or to take the next step into expansion. With this quote, Martin Luther King describes how people should have faith even when they do not know how things will turn out.

5. On Supporting Your Team

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Unless you are a sole trader, you are not in your business alone. This quote listed on Business Insider encourages business leaders to make time for their team. If you have a team working with you, then it is important to offer them support in the workplace. By helping your team to improve and to achieve the best they possibly can, you are also helping your business to succeed. Ask yourself daily if there is anything you can do to help your team both in the short-term and the long-term.

4. On Time Management

“We must use time creatively………do great things”

Organizing your time well is a vital element in running a business efficiently and effectively. Using your time well and creatively can help you to make bigger leaps in terms of progress. There is an element of planning in time management, as planning how you will portion out your time for different tasks will help you to make use of time in the most effective way. Helping others in your team to also apply time management strategies will help you all to work efficiently side by side to achieve the same end goal.

3. On Taking Pride in Your Work

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way”.

The ultimate goal of most managers and business leaders is to achieve great things in their field. However, it can take many small steps to achieve this level of success. It is important to take pride in every single element of a business, no matter how small and inconsequential it may seem. It is taking pride in every task regardless of size that will help you to progress in business.

2. On the Challenges of Business

“There is no gain without struggle”.

Anyone who has ever owned or managed a business knows that it is almost impossible to do so without facing challenges. These can include struggles in almost every aspect of your business, from growing your customer base to developing an online presence. According to King’s quote, these challenges and struggles are an important part of a business’s journey. Without facing these struggles, you will not see any gain in your business endeavors.

Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site

1. On Persistence in Business

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t……………… keep moving forward”

According to Communications Rebel, this quote from Martin Luther King Jr. is a good example of the importance of persistence in business. Not all businesses progress at the same speed. Likewise, even in a successful business, there are sometimes when things move slowly and other times when progression is fast. No matter what speed you are moving in your business, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is to have persistence and to keep things moving forwards.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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