Women are sharing the motivational quote they live by

Lydia Slater, Brooke Theis and Emma Justice
·6-min read

Looking for positive motivational quotes to inspire you to get your passion project off the ground, go for that promotion or simply be reminded just how resilient and brilliant you are? We asked nine brilliant women, who are leaders in their field, to share their favourite motivational mantras that propelled them to success...

BARONESS HELENA MORRISSEY
Financier, author and campaigner for boardroom diversity

Photo credit: Baroness Helena Morrissey
Photo credit: Baroness Helena Morrissey

What I'm working on: ‘I intend to make a real impact in the different areas in which I’m working now, whether that’s as a member of the House of Lords, keeping up my Instagram account on feminine career dressing or as trustee for the Lady Garden Foundation. I’m also hoping to write my second book, a practical guide to career success for women.’

My favourite positive motivational quote is: ‘Think big, start small, start now. There are always reasons not to do something and so many wonderful ideas never get implemented. I’ve learned that, once we start, the path often opens up – taking that very first step is vital.’


YVONNE THOMPSON CBE
Founder of the WinTrade Global Women in Business Network and chair of the Radio Academy

Photo credit: Lewis Patrick Photography
Photo credit: Lewis Patrick Photography

What I'm working on: ‘Supporting and celebrating more and more women entrepreneurs as they start and grow their businesses, and knowing that I had a small part to play in their journey to success, is the passion that keeps me up late at night and wakes me up early in the morning.’

My favourite positive motivational quote is: ‘When challenges come, don’t be bitter, be better.’

ANNE-MARIE IMAFIDON MBE
Co-founder of the social enterprise Stemettes, encouraging girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths

Photo credit: Ariatu Public Relations
Photo credit: Ariatu Public Relations

What I'm working on: ‘In 2020, we ran a summer programme called Outbox for more than 300 young women from across the globe, as a rapid response to lots of people not having exams. It will be bigger and better this year. Knowing that it will be virtual is a positive thing because we’re looking forward to something that isn’t conditional: it will definitely happen this way. Stemettes is geared towards empowering people and changing lives, allowing girls to unlock their potential. Young people approach us looking for guidance, and there’s no greater joy than a girl telling us that we’ve helped her progress.’

My favourite positive motivational quote is: ‘Seek forgiveness, not permission.’

ANTONIA ROMEO
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice

Photo credit: Antonia Romeo
Photo credit: Antonia Romeo



What I'm working on: ‘My job is focused on improving things for the country and its citizens – that’s highly motivating even in difficult circumstances. I’m also the Civil Service gender champion, so I spend a lot of my time mentoring female staff and talking to groups about leadership– it’s always positive to meet the future leaders of the Service.’

My favourite positive motivational quote is:‘“I dare you” was Wayne Shorter’s description of jazz – it’s about being bold, innovative and thinking big.’

BARONESS VALERIE AMOS
Politician and Master of University College, Oxford

Photo credit: John Cairns/Oxford University
Photo credit: John Cairns/Oxford University

What I'm working on: ‘It’s uplifting to be around the energy and enthusiasm of young people in these challenging times. This year, I’m looking forward to using the convening power of University College to bring amazing people together to discuss, debate and discover the extraordinary work of academic colleagues; opening up opportunities to engage with the students; and making further progress on the diversity, equality and inclusion agenda at the College.’

My favourite motivational quote is: ‘Remember to laugh.’

GLENNON DOYLE
Author of Untamed and founder of Together Rising

Photo credit: Melissa Lyttle
Photo credit: Melissa Lyttle

What I'm working on: ‘I’m currently working with JJ Abram’sBad Robot to turn my book Untamed [The Sunday Times bestseller] into a limited series. It’s thrilling to learn TV production and writing; I have a beginner’s mind again.’

My favourite motivational quote is: ‘“We can do hard things” – because living life on life’s own absurd terms is hard. It isn’t hard because I’m weak or flawed or because I made a wrong turn, it is hard because life is just hard for humans, and I am a human who is finally doing life right.

‘“We can do hard things” insists that I can, and should, stay in the “hard” because there is reward for staying. I don’t know what the reward is yet, but I want to find out. I am comforted by the “we” part, too. I don’t know who the we is; I just need to believe that there is a “we”, helping me through my hard things and doing their own hard things while I do mine.’

DR TARA SWART
Neuroscientist and author of The Source

Photo credit: Dr Tara Swart
Photo credit: Dr Tara Swart


What I'm working on: ‘This year, I’m looking forward to diversifying further into beauty, fashion and art, and seeing how my six-week online course, Neuroscience for Business, which I filmed and created during lockdown, does.’

My favourite motivational quote is: ‘Keep learning something new. That’s when I truly feel joy.’

KATE STEPHENS
CEO of the charity Smart Works

Photo credit: Smartworks
Photo credit: Smartworks

What I'm working on: ‘When a client walks through our door she’s often nervous, uncertain about what she’s walking into, but leaves two hours later with a spring in her step, ready to get the job that could change her life. Witnessing the immediate impact of the service we deliver is a great joy and privilege.’

My favourite motivational quote is: ‘A high tide raises all ships. For me, this means not just doing your best, but encouraging everyone around you to do the same – because we can achieve so much more together.’

ROKSANDA ILINCIC
Fashion designer

Photo credit: Darren Gerrish
Photo credit: Darren Gerrish

What I'm working on: ‘Recent times have forced us all to pause and review the way in which we work, and identify how we can adapt for the future. I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned, including addressing key social issues such as racial prejudice, women’s rights and sustainability, and proactively seek ways to find positive solutions within my business to support them.’

My favourite motivational quote is: ‘Always assume the best. For me, positivity is key. I honestly believe that the energy you bring from having an optimistic outlook can be felt collectively, and ultimately has the power to influence the outcome.’

This feature first appeared in the May 2021 issue of Red.

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