100 Awesome Quotes on What It Takes To Innovate

by Mitch Ditkoff

100 Awesome Quotes on What it Takes to Innovate1. “I want to put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs

2. “Ideas won’t keep. Something must be done about them.” – Alfred North Whitehead

3. “Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk

4. “If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” – Charles Kettering

5. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney

6. “Security is mostly a superstition. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

7. “You can’t solve a problem on the same level that it was created. You have to rise above it to the next level.” – Albert Einstein

8. “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.” – Miles Davis

9. “The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct arising from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the object it loves.” – Carl Jung

10. “There is only one thing stronger than all the armies of the world: and that is an idea whose time has come.” – Victor Hugo

11. “If you lose the power to laugh, you lose the power to think.” – Clarence Darrow

12. “Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck

13. “To accomplish great things we must dream as well as act.” – Anatole France

14. “It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.” – Charles Peguy

15. “There’s no good idea that cannot be improved on.” – Michael Eisner

16. “We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin

17. “We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.” – Thomas Edison

18. “The best vision is insight.” – Malcolm Forbes

19. “Genius is infinite painstaking.” – Michelangelo

20. “Nothing will change the fact that I cannot produce the least thing without absolute solitude.” – Goethe

21. “Neither a lofty degree of intelligence, nor imagination, nor both together, go to the making of genius. Love, Love, Love. That is the soul of genius.” – Mozart

22. “Swipe from the best, then adapt.” – Tom Peters

23. “Give me the young man who has brains enough to make a fool of himself.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

24. “You can expect no influence if you are not susceptible to influence.” – Carl Jung

25. “Whether or not you can observe a thing depends upon the theory you use. It is the theory which decides what can be observed.” – Albert Einstein

26. “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” – Goethe

27. “Sit, walk, or run, but don’t wobble.” – Zen proverb

28. “The greater the contrast, the greater the potential. Great energy only comes from a correspondingly great tension of opposites.” – Carl Jung

29. “We don’t know who discovered water, but we’re certain it wasn’t a fish.” – John Culkin

30. “I will act as if what I do will make a difference.” – William James

31. “There is no such thing as a long piece of work, except one that you dare not start.” – Charles Baudelaire

32. “What is now proved was once only imagined.” – William Blake

33. “Remember, a dead fish can float down a stream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.” – W.C. Fields

34. “99 percent of success is built on failure.” – Charles Kettering

35. “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” – Abraham Maslow

36. “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” – Albert Einstein

37. “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

38. “The ultimate creative thinking technique is to think like God. If you’re an atheist, pretend how God would do it.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

39. “I start where the last man left off.” – Thomas Edison

40. “Never confuse motion with action.” – Ernest Hemingway

41. “The greatest invention in the world is the mind of a child.” – Thomas Edison

42. “No matter how well you perform, there’s always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it’s lousy.” – Sir Laurence Olivier

43. “You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

44. “I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.” – Miles Davis

45. “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” – Linus Pauling

46. “Discovery is seeing what everybody else has seen, and thinking what nobody else has thought.” – Albert Szent-Gyorgi

47. “A pile of rocks ceases to be a rock pile when somebody contemplates it with the idea of a cathedral in mind.”- Antoine Saint-Exupery

48. “Without a deadline, baby, I wouldn’t do nothing.” – Duke Ellington

49. “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

50. “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki

51. “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – General George Patton

52. “The man with a new idea is a crank – until the idea succeeds.” – Mark Twain

53. “A problem well stated is a problem half solved.” – Charles Kettering

54. “The best thinking has been done in solitude. The worst has been done in turmoil.” – Thomas Edison

55. “Don’t be afraid to take a big step when one is indicated. You can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.” – David Lloyd George

56. “The silly question is the first intimation of some totally new development.” – Alfred North Whitehead

57. “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.” – Victor Hugo

58. “Money never starts an idea; it is the idea that starts the money.” – William J. Cameron

59. “Systems die; instincts remain.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

60. “You will never find the time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” – Charles Burton

61. “Whenever anything is being accomplished, it is being done, I have learned, by a monomaniac with a mission.” – Peter Drucker

62. “One of the illusions of life is that the present hour is not the critical, decisive one.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

63. “The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.” – Thomas Carlyle

64. “I failed my way to success.” – Thomas Edison

65. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

66. “The way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” – Thomas Watson, (Founder of IBM)

67. “Innovation opportunities do not come with the tempest but with the rustling of the breeze.” – Peter Drucker

68. “The enterprise that does not innovate ages and declines. And in a period of rapid change such as the present, the decline will be fast.” – Peter Drucker

69. “You can only be as good as you dare to be bad.” – John Barrymore

70. “No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered.”
Winston Churchill

71. “Conclusions arrived at through reasoning have very little or no influence in altering the course of our lives.” – Carlos Casteneda

72. “After years of telling corporate citizens to ‘trust the system,’ many companies must relearn instead to trust their people – and encourage their people to use neglected creative capacities in order to tap the most potent economic stimulus of all: idea power.” – Rosabeth Moss Kanter

73. “If the creator has a purpose in equipping us with a neck, he surely would have meant for us to stick it out.” – Arthur Koestler

74. “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May

75. “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.” – Emile Chartier

76. “There’s always an element of chance and you must be willing to live with that element. If you insist on certainty, you will paralyze yourself.” – J.P. Getty

77. “Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are just produced.” – A.N. Whitehead

78. “Our best ideas come from clerks and stockboys.” – Sam Walton

79. “The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

80. “Every act of creation is, first of all, an act of destruction.” – Pablo Picasso

81. “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” – Groucho Marx

82. “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

83. “Genius, in truth, means little more than the faculty of perceiving in an unhabitual way.” – William James

84. “Vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” – Jonathan Swift

85. “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” – Alan Kay

86. “If you go to your grave without painting your masterpiece, it will not get painted. No one else can paint it.” – Gordon MacKenzie

87. “Taking a new step, uttering a new word, is what people fear most.” – Fyodor Dostoevsky

88. “There is a vitality, a life force, that is translated to you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium, and will be lost.” – Martha Graham

89. “We have approximately 60,000 thoughts in a day. Unfortunately, 95% of them are thoughts we had the day before.” – Deepak Chopra

90. “Confusion is a word we have invented for an order that is not yet understood.” – Henry Miller

91. “I refuse to be intimidated by reality anymore. What is reality? Nothing but a collective hunch.” – Lily Tomlin

92. “Now that we have met with paradox we have some hope of making progress.” – Niels Bohr

93. “Microsoft is always two years away from failure.” – Bill Gates

94. “We’ve reached the end of incrementalism. Only those companies that are capable of creating industry revolutions will prosper in the new economy. – Gary Hamel

95. “If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.” – Alfred Noble

96. “I’ve been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it.” – Steven Wright

97. “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs

98. “I am looking for a lot of people who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.” – Henry Ford

99. “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

100. “I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.” – John Cage

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Mitch DitkoffMitch Ditkoff is the Co-Founder and President of Idea Champions and the author of “Awake at the Wheel”, as well as the very popular Heart of Innovation blog.

No comments

  1. i think #81 should read “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

    btw. what does that have to do with innovation?

  2. You’re right. Fixed.

    I can only speculate or rationalize, so I’ll leave it to Mitch. 😉

    Braden

  3. “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana” has a LOT to do with innovation. Having a sense of humor, for example. Being surprised. Letting go of logic. Letting go of assumptions. Being willing to play. Not taking the straight and narrow. Having your mind jammed. Questioning what Groucho has to do with innovation. Us having this dialogue. And more…

  4. Very good collection, worth reading everday to stay motivated and keep going, no matter what people around us think or comment on us.

    Thank you for this asset 🙂

  5. Graham, the time flies quote is often used as an example of something that has to be disambiguated, such is knowledge explication, or the Aha! of discovery. The time flies quote is also cultural. It is not true of Slavic time where time goes nowhere and instead contain an eternal moment. We cross those moments. Time is not an actor.

    Both “flies” and “like” shift from verb to noun, from actor to doer, from object to method/message. There are things we cannot do, but somewhere along the way we make a noun into a verb, and suddenly we have created a product that enables doing. It’s an email that we emailed.

    Time is apparently, not biological, or you could not say that it arcs like an arrow along a ballistic path towards entropy. Biology does not sink to entropy. Innovation, however, like an arrow, does sink to entropy, as we are called to innovate constantly in the gravity of globalism and the erasure of jobs.

  6. A great collection of quotes! Very inspiring, and empowering. I think the beauty of reading these is in taking the time to listen and remember what other people have to say. Somehow apt for Memorial Day! Every good businessman and woman, always takes a pause to learn and enrich himself with anything useful.

    Thanks for these. You’ve just given me my daily dose of wisdom for the next 100 days.

  7. While I respect what Mike and David are saying in response to Graham, I think it’s important to realize that not everyone thinks the same way. Not everyone creates the same way. The same things inspire not everyone. I found this to be a great list of quotes, however, I could not relate to all of them. In addition, I shouldn’t. We all have our own unique philosophies.

    While I appreciated David, explaining what that quote meant to him, it’s just that… what it means to him, personally. We are unique to have the ability to think and ponder as individuals. Giving this list of quotes to a group of people, you’re practically guaranteed that there will be differing interpretations of what the quotes mean within the group. The two of you are basically criticizing him for not thinking the same way that you think. Then you felt the need to force your unique interpretations upon him, which is basically denying him the ability to be able to think for himself. And, really, what kind of innovation comes from that? I’m seeing you two being very oppressive and not providing a fertile environment for innovation. To develop something truly innovative, or to solve problems, we must be able to it on our own terms.

    Honestly, I, too, didn’t really get much from that quote, but others were very inspiring to me. But I’ll be god damned if someone started preaching their own philosophies at me.

    I thought it was very brave for Graham to question that quote, perhaps even innovative.

    I recall reading some wise words somewhere recently…

    “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.”

  8. great site

    dumb people learn from their mistakes,
    wise people learn from the mistakes of the dumb ones

  9. Wonderful collection! I absolutely LOVE that you include Miles Davis as indeed quotable, every list needs jazz. ;D

  10. I once saw an email from superstoresearch.com that had a really interesting quote in the signature which is relevant here:

    If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”

  11. “One person says one, The other says two.”

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