Our Favorite Leadership Quotes


The Association of YMCA Professionals recently sent an e-blast titled “10 Quotes on Leadership.” This got some of our staff members thinking about our favorite leadership quotes, which we’re happy to share below.

Chief Operating Officer Eileen Barber offered two quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You can often change your circumstances by changing your attitude.”

“A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity.”

Laura Tiedge, Senior Director of Healthy Living, loves a good quote—her e-mail signature includes the line “I dwell in possibility” by Emily Dickinson, after all—and sent several of her favorites. For sheer poetry, you can’t beat this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, best known as the author of “The Little Prince”:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

Not surprisingly, Fitness Center Director Ann Ivan submitted a quote from Arthur Ashe that’s fitting for leaders and health seekers: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Kathy O’Brien, the Y’s Gymnastics Director offered this quote from Oprah: “Leadership is about empathy. It is about having the ability to relate and to connect with people for the purpose of inspiring and empowering their lives.”

Yanique Powell, our School Age Childcare Director, likes a quote from business leader Jack Welch: “”Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”

Denise Woodin, the Y’s Director of Community Impact and Social Responsibility, reached back in history for this inspirational quote by John Quincy Adams: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

What’s your favorite leadership quote?