Inspirational Quotes for Deep-End Leaders

Consider using these quotes in weekly messages to your team or to start off a staff meeting. These quotes are arranged under the four foundational skills from Swimming in the Deep End. Be creative. Inspire others to swim in the deep end.

Think Before You Speak  |  Prempting Resistance  |  Responding to Resistance  |  Managing Yourself Through Resistance and Change

Think Before You Speak


“Authority is granted to people who are perceived as ‘authoring’ their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts.”

Parker Palmer

Against the Stream

“The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.”

Woodrow T. Wilson

Dead Fish

“Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”

W. C. Fields

Highest Form

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

Jiddu Krishnamurti


“Watch out for intellect, because it knows so much it knows nothing and leaves you hanging upside down, mouthing knowledge as your heart falls out of your mouth.”

Anne Sexton

Highest Calling

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

Harvey Firestone

Doubt Your Limits

“If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limits.”

Don Ward


“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

John F. Kennedy

Courage to Continue

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

Further Shore

“Few among men are they who cross over to the further shore. The others merely run up and down the bank on this side.”

The Dhammapada

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Preempting Resistance

Hospice and Midwives

“We must become both hospice workers to support the peaceful dying and letting go of our traditional culture of fear and cynicism, and midwives to gently usher in our emerging culture of trust and mutual regard.”

Former California State Senator John Vasconcellos


“Live courage, breathe courage, give courage.”

Dhan Gopal Mukerji

Text People

“What we need more than anything else is not textbooks but text people.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel


“Everyone is dealing with transition.”

Maria Shriver

7 Billion People

“There are over 7 billion people on earth. And you are going to let 1 person ruin your day? Don’t.”


In the Arena

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”

Theodore Roosevelt

Don’t Wait

“The wise boldly pick up a truth as soon as they hear it. Don’t wait for a moment, or you’ll lose your head.”


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Responding to Resistance


“Self-control is only courage under another form.”

Samuel Smiles

Use Words

“Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

St. Francis of Assisi


“Sometimes, silence is consent.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

Uncomfortable Energy

“When we are willing to stay even for a moment with uncomfortable energy, we gradually learn not to fear it.”

Pema Chödrön

Every Word

“Every word has consequences. Every silence too.”

Jean-Paul Sartre

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Managing Yourself Through Resistance and Change


“When death finds you, may it find you alive.”

African Proverb

Let Go

“Let go or be dragged.”


Be Transformed

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Romans 12:2

Growth Must Be Chosen

“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”

Abraham Maslow

True to Myself

“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”

Frederick Douglass

Frodo and Gandalf

“‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'”

J. R. R. Tolkien in The Fellowship of the Ring

What a Ride

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a ride!'”

Hunter S. Thompson

The Sun Will Rise

“Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”

Victor Hugo

The Rarest Thing

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”

Oscar Wilde

Your Own Mask

“Put on your own mask before helping others.”

Every Airline I Have Ever Flown On

A Narrow Bridge

“The whole world is a narrow bridge; the important thing is not to be afraid.”

Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Be Well

“All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

Julian of Norwich


“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Anaïs Nin

Deepest Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Marianne Williamson

Why You Started

“When you’re ready to quit, remember why you started.”


Your World

“This is your world. Shape it or someone else will.”

Gary Lew


“Don’t let someone get comfortable disrespecting you.”


Things that Matter

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

Martin Luther King Jr.


“I must be a mermaid…I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”

Anaïs Nin


“Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’ we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will; To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

From “Ulysses” by Alfred Lord Tennyson

Conscious Learning

“Every act of conscious learning requires the willingness to suffer an injury to one’s self-esteem.”

Thomas Szasz

Ain’t Over

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Yogi Berra

Breathe Deeply

“Breathe deeply and know that who you are can withstand the experience of conflict that living requires.”

Mark Nepo


“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde


“Voyages are accomplished inwardly, and the most hazardous ones, needless to say, are made without moving from the spot.”

Henry Miller

Meet You

“Remember: despite how open, peaceful, and loving you attempt to be, people can only meet you, as deeply as they’ve met themselves.”

Matt Kahn

Perfect Teacher

“This moment is the perfect teacher.”

Pema Chödrön

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