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20 Ralph Waldo Emerson Quotes That Apply to Business

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an essayist, poet, lecturer, and philosopher. He was born in Massachusetts in 1803, and he died in 1882. Emerson is best known for leading the transcendentalist movement in the mid-19th-century. He promoted individualism and criticized the pressures of society. As a prolific public speaker, this influential man said many things that people still consider motivational or that make you look at things from a different perspective. Here are 20 Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes that apply to business.

20. On Trying New Things

“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”

While sticking with what you know is an easy way of operating in business, it may prevent you from taking things to the next level. Trying something new might help you to progress in your business, and it may help you to find easier ways of doing things. Furthermore, it could open a new market for you. You will not fully know the benefits of a new idea unless you have tried it out. You might find that the new ideas are better than your tried and tested ways of doing things.

19. On Having Passion for Your Work

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

In most cases, those who achieve great success are those who are passionate about their work. If you do not feel passionate, then you will not enjoy your working life or feel any motivation. Those who look forward to spending time at work and working on projects have the enthusiasm it takes to succeed. If you begin to lose enthusiasm for your career, then it is possibly time to do something else that does inspire your enthusiasm.

18. On Facing Your Fears

“He who is not conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.”

Not everything in business is comfortable all the time. There are times when you will have to take risks, or you must face unknown situations. This can cause some people to feel fear or a lack of control. However, these situations are almost inevitable, and you are likely to come out on the other side a stronger person. Some people have a strong belief that you should do something that scares you every day.

17. On Overcoming Hurdles

“The greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising up every time we fail.”

According to this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote listed on Awaken the Greatness Within, it doesn’t matter if you make mistakes or you fail in certain areas in life. What matters the most is how you handle the situation and if you have the strength to overcome these hurdles. Use your failures to your advantage in the future by not making the same mistakes again.

16. On Learning from Experience

“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”

While there are some things you can learn from theory in books, there are other things that you can only learn through experience. Throughout your working life, you are constantly learning new things and gaining more experience. The more experiences you have, the greater your potential for success. Make the most of every opportunity you have to learn something new.

15. On Gaining Strength from the Low Points

“We acquire the strength we have overcome.”

Ups and downs are all part of running a business, and you will not fully appreciate the highs without experiencing some lows. When you hit a low point in your business, things may feel dire and you may struggle to carry on. However, you can gain a lot of strength from these times. You might also find that they are a learning experience in terms of understanding what does not work or what mistakes you should not make again.

14. On Learning from Others

“If we encounter a man of rare intellect, we should ask him what books he reads.”

Learning from your own experience and studies is not the only way to learn. You can also learn a lot from other people. If you know people who are knowledgeable in your industry, who have a lot of experience or who have achieved success, then you should take advantage of any opportunities to learn from these people that come your way. These opportunities may come at surprising times.

13. On Opening Your Mind to New Ideas

“The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.”

It is easy to get stuck in a rut and to carry on doing things the same way that you always have. However, you should be open to new ideas as these may create opportunities. These do not necessarily need to be your own ideas, as the ideas of your employees are also worth consideration. Embrace any ideas of merit, regardless of their source. Once you have opened your mind to one new idea, you may find that you are more open to other ideas in the future.

12. On Having Ambition

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.”

According to this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, you will get nowhere in life if you do not have ambition. You need to have dreams and goals to give yourself something to work towards. If you want to achieve things in life, then you need to have enough ambition to motivate you to reach the goals you have set.

11. On Reaching Your Full Potential

“Make the most of yourself… for that is all there is of you.”

Everyone has potential, but whether they achieve their full potential depends on their mindset, their actions, and the choices they make. If you want to reach your full potential, then the only person who can make sure this happens is you. It is your responsibility to become the best person possible and to achieve everything that you want from life.

10. On Doing Your Best

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could.”

This Ralph Waldo Emerson quote listed on Inspiration Feed highlights the importance of always trying your best in every situation. If you always try your best, you can end each day with the satisfaction of knowing that you could have done no more. Sometimes, you might not achieve everything that you set out to achieve because you have faced challenges along the way. If you have done your best to overcome these, then you have made every effort. You should congratulate yourself on this despite not reaching your goals. Tomorrow is another day and you can set about reaching your goals then.

9. On Taking Responsibility for Your Actions

“Shallow men believe in luck or in circumstance. Strong men believe in cause and effect.”

Although luck and circumstance can play a part in the success of a business, the actions you take are more likely to determine the outcome. As a leader, you should take some responsibility for this. If you make the right decisions and put effort into every task, then successful outcomes are more likely. On the other hand, a lack of effort and bad decision-making can lead to failure.

8. On Having Courage

“Always do what you are afraid to do.”

Running a business takes a certain element of courage. You sometimes must take risks, face difficult situations, make hard decisions, and do things that you do not really want to do. One sign of a good leader is that they have the courage to face these challenges head-on.

7. On Taking the Leap

“Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”

If you want to become a success in business, then you need to take the first step by launching the business. This initial step is often the one that people find the hardest to take. They may fear failure, and this prevents them from doing what they need to do to make their dreams come true. To make something good in your life happen, you need the bravery to take the leap.

6. On Experiencing the Highs and Lows

“When it is dark enough, you can see the stars.”

Not only is a life full of highs and low, but business is also a balance of good times and bad times. This is not always a bad thing as you sometimes need to have negative experiences to have a full appreciation of the positive experiences.

5. On Decision-Making

“Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.”

A vital element of any business leadership role is decision-making. This is something that many people have difficulty with as they spend too long weighing up the pros and cons without coming to a decision. Sometimes, you just need to go with your gut and take action rather than wasting time. It is only once you have made the decision that things can move forwards.

4. On Putting Past Mistakes Behind You

“Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

After making a mistake, hitting a low point, or failing in a task, many people find it difficult to move on. They let their mistakes and failures linger in their mind, thus hindering them from moving on. If you want to become successful in business, then you must learn to let things go. Start each day afresh and see it as a new opportunity to make progress, rather than wasting your energy thinking about the past. Taking a positive approach means looking into the future.

3. On Being Yourself

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Often, people try to emulate successful people on their road to success. However, copying somebody else is a hard act to keep up in the long-term. Also, by trying to act like someone else you are not being true to yourself and your own integrity. Faking it can begin to impact your decisions and this is potentially detrimental to your business in the long-run. Instead of concerning yourself with trying to act like others, you should always remain true to yourself. The ability to always be yourself without the influence of others is an achievement in itself.

2. On Finding a Niche

“Do not go where a path may lead, go where there is no path and leave a trail.”

One of the tricks of becoming successful in business is finding a niche or a gap in the market and filling it. Following trends is important to a certain extent, as this means there is a demand for certain products and services. However, you do not want to follow the same path as everyone else or you will find yourself in a position where you have a lot of competition. Therefore, you need to try and offer a product or service that is different from the other things on offer. This way, you can make your mark in your own sector of the market, and stand out from the crowd.

1. On Taking Control of Your Own Destiny

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

According to Goalcast, this is one of the best Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes that apply to business. It highlights the fact that you are the only one that can determine the person you become and what you achieve in life. It is you that should determine what you want from life, and it is then your responsibility to take any steps you need to make sure you get there. You are the master of your own destiny, so do everything it takes to become a success.

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Dana Hanson

Written by Dana Hanson

Dana has extensive professional writing experience including technical and report writing, informational articles, persuasive articles, contrast and comparison, grant applications, and advertisement. She also enjoys creative writing, content writing on nearly any topic (particularly business and lifestyle), because as a lifelong learner, she loves to do research and possess a high skill level in this area. Her academic degrees include AA social Sci/BA English/MEd Adult Ed & Community & Human Resource Development and ABD in PhD studies in Indust & Org Psychology.

Read more posts by Dana Hanson

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