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20 Toni Morrison Quotes That Apply to Business

Toni Morrison and Barak Obama

Chloe Anthony Wofford Morrison was known professionally as Toni Morrison. She was a novelist, book editor, college professor, and essayist who was born in Ohio in 1931. She was known for novels such as ‘The Bluest Eye’, ‘Beloved’, and ‘Song of Solomon’. In 1993, she became the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sadly, Morrison died in New York in 2019. During her lifetime, Toni Morrison was known as an influential person, and she continues to be an inspiration for many posthumously. Here are 20 Toni Morrison quotes that apply to business.

20. On Gaining the Respect of your Team

“You don’t have to love me but you . . . have to respect me.”

Those who are working in your team do not have to become your friends in your personal life, but they must respect you in the workplace. One way to gain respect is to lead by example. Behave in the workplace how you expect your team to behave. Another way is to always act with fairness and to treat them as you would wish others to treat you. It will also gain their respect if you acknowledge their contributions and show appreciation for their work. A team that feels valued is a team that is motivated to work.

19. On Remaining Focused

“No matter how hard we try to ignore it, the mind always knows truth and wants clarity.”

A lack of focus can lead to a lack of clarity, so you should always try to remain focused. One thing that can impact your focus is taking on too many tasks at once. Try to take things one step at a time, or to delegate some tasks to other members of your team. Something else that can make you lack focus is a lack of sleep. Make sure you are getting plenty of rest, and this will improve your focus when you are at work.

18. On Accepting Positive Changes

“The change was adjustment without improvement.”

Accepting change is essential if you want to move forwards with your business. However, you shouldn’t make changes simply for the sake of change. Any changes you make should have a positive impact on your business, so weigh up the pros and cons of the changes before implementing them.

17. On Finding the Positives from the Negatives

“It never looked as terrible as it was.”

Sometimes, things can go wrong, and this will leave you feeling very negative. However, things are not always as bad as they seem. It is possible in some situations to draw some positives from what seems a negative situation. For example, you may realize that the negative situation has acted as an opportunity to learn about how not to do things, and this can improve your chances of success in the future.

16. On Being Your Own Person

“He licked his lips. ‘Well, if you want my opinion-‘, ‘I don’t,’ she said. ‘I have my own.’”

Everyone has opinions about what somebody else is doing or how they are doing it. You may find that this is more the case when you become successful, and people want to start expressing opinions about how they would have done things differently. Try not to get tied down with what everyone else thinks of what you are doing. You have your own mind, your own ideas, and your own opinions. Therefore, you are perfectly capable of being yourself and making your own decisions in life.

15. On Taking Action Today

“’Today is always here,’ said Sethe. ‘Tomorrow, never,’”

According to this Toni Morrison quote listed on The Famous People, you should not put things off until tomorrow because tomorrow never comes. If you need to do something to move your business forward or to become a success, then today is the best day to take action.

14. On Overcoming Obstacles

“The presence of evil was something to be first recognized, then dealt with, survived, outwitted, triumphed over.”

When things are not going right, you should take a pragmatic approach to the situation. Consider why it is going wrong, adapt your strategies accordingly, move forward, and get over it. There is no point wallowing in self-pity or considering yourself a failure. Pick yourself up and take whatever steps are needed to improve the situation. Don’t think of these hurdles as failures, but as opportunities to learn from your mistakes.

13. On Avoiding Self-Doubt

“You are confined by your own repression.”

The person most likely to hold you back in life is yourself. If you allow self-doubt to step in and take over your thoughts and actions, then it is unlikely that you will ever achieve the level of success that you crave. Take pride in what you have already achieved and had the confidence that you can do more and achieve even greater things. Stop holding yourself back and have a little self-belief.

12. On Acknowledging Your Own Strengths

“You are your best thing.”

The best tool that you have at your disposal to make your business a success is yourself, and it is important that you acknowledge that. You have many strengths, but it is possible that you have never really thought about them before. Take the time to assess your strengths and then make sure you use them to your advantage. It can also help to identify your weaknesses and then put strategies in place to improve in these areas. This may involve making a conscious decision to stop behaving in a certain way or taking a course to learn a new skill.

11. On Having Dreams

“As you enter positions of trust and power, dream a little before you think.”

Those who achieve great things all start off by having a dream. It is important that you have dreams and goals as this will give you the focus, motivation, and determination to do what it takes to get where you want in life. Always remember your dreams in every decision that you make, and this might increase your chances of them becoming a reality.

10. On Taking Responsibility

“Somebody has to take responsibility for being a leader.”

Listed by Brainy Quote, this quote is all about the importance of taking responsibility if you are a leader or a person in a position of authority. As a leader, you are responsible for every decision and action taken, and the buck always stops with you. Your team will have respect for you if you take responsibility.

9. On Not Copying Others

“I’m not entangled in shaping my work according to other people’s views of how I should have done it.”

Everyone will have an opinion about how they would have done things differently to the route you have chosen. When people express these views, you may begin to doubt the decisions you have made and the actions you have taken. It is a big mistake to evaluate your actions and decisions on the opinions of others. Instead, have the confidence that you made the best decisions and took the right actions for you at that time to achieve the most positive outcomes possible.

8. On Carrying On Through the Hard Times

“I get angry about things, then go on and work.”

If things are challenging, it is OK to react. In Toni Morrison’s case, she would get angry. However, she would then get over it and move on. You should try to apply the same ethos when you hit challenges in your business. An initial reaction is fine so long as you can then pick yourself up and carry on. You must work out what you need to do to resolve the situation and get to work fixing things.

7. On Making Decisions

“Definitions belong to the definers, not the defined.”

The world is split into two types of people; the definers and those who allow themselves to be defined. Make sure you are in the group of people who are the definers. Part of this is being the person who makes the decisions, and the ability to do this is an important leadership skill. For every decision you face, weigh up the options quickly and decide which of your choices will have the best outcome for your business.

6. On Taking Control of Your Life

“What’s the world for you if you can’t make it up the way you want it?”

All your efforts are for nothing if you do not get to where you want in life, but the only person who can make things go your way is yourself. Instead of waiting for others to give you opportunities, create your own. Rather than focusing on all the potential pitfalls, concentrate on devising strategies to overcome any challenges. Setting yourself short-term goals can help as this will give you something to work towards, keep you motivated, and allow you to enjoy small achievement along the way.

5. Having a Good Work Ethic

“If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.”

This Toni Morrison quote, which is listed on Your Story, is really about love. However, you can just as easily apply it to business situations and about having a good work ethic. It is vital you understand that you need to work hard to become a success, as achieving great things is not something that happens easily in life.

4. On Taking Control of Your Own Destiny

“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”

Everyone has different dreams in life, and it is each person’s own responsibility to make their dreams a reality. If you have things that you want to achieve, then work out how you can make them happen. The only person who is standing in your way is yourself. Be brave, have some courage, and take the leap to make your life how you want.

3. On Making a Difference

“Make a difference about something other than yourselves.”

One of your aims in business should be to make a difference in some way. This is not just about yourself, but the difference you can make for others or in your sector of the market. As a leader, you can make a significant difference in the lives of your team. You can do this by creating opportunities for them, making their working life enjoyable, and by being an aspirational leader. In your sector of the market, you can make a difference by offering something different to the competition or by approaching things in a different way.

2. On Doing Your Best

“Passion is never enough; neither is skill. But try.”

No matter what you are doing, you should always do your best. Sometimes, having passion or skill is not enough. You will also need to devote time, energy, and creativity to the things you do. Even though you might not always get things right, it is essential that you continue to try your best at all times.

1. On Being a Leader

“If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else.”

According to Business Insider, this is one of the best Toni Morrison Quotes that apply to business. When you are a leader or in a position of power, then you have an opportunity to empower other people. The ability to do this successfully is a sign of a great leader. If your employees feel empowered, then they are more likely to remain motivated and enthusiastic about working towards the goals you set. One way that you can make your team feel empowered is by allowing them to have creative input into projects and for them to feel free to present their ideas. Another way is to make sure they feel valued and appreciated in the workplace.

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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