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25 Quotes About Hard Work from Hard-Working Women

“Do not not complain. Work harder.”

By InHerSight
Woman working hard at a desk
Photo courtesy of Paige Cody

Women know what it means to work hard. These 25 quotes from wise women offer perspective, motivation, inspiration, and insight on what it means to work hard.

Quotes on hard work and following your dreams

1. “Dreams are lovely but they are dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”

—Shonda Rhimes, television show creator, producer, and writer

2. “I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint—and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.”

—Oprah Winfrey, media executive, talk show host, TV producer, and businesswoman

3. “I never dreamt of success. I worked for it.”

—Estée Lauder, businesswoman

4. “Some women choose to follow men and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

—Lady Gaga, singer, songwriter, actress

Read more: 37 Quotes from Badass Women to Remind You How Awesome Women Are

Quotes on hard work and believing in yourself

5. "If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."

—Shirley Chisholm, politician, educator, author, and the first African American woman elected to the United States congress

6. “I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

—Madame C.J. Walker, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a political and social activist

7. “If you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.”

—Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and cofounder of Ellevest, owner and chair of Ellevate Network

8. “Whenever I feel bad, I use that feeling to motivate me to work harder. I only allow myself one day to feel sorry for myself. When I’m not feeling my best I ask myself, ‘What are you gonna do about it?’ I use the negativity to fuel the transformation into a better me.”

—Beyoncé Knowles, singer, songwriter, and actress

9. “No matter who you are, no matter what you did, no matter where you've come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.”

—Madonna, singer, songwriter

10. “Sometimes the future changes quickly and completely, and we’re left with only the choice of what to do next. We can choose to be afraid of it. Just stand there trembling, not moving. Assuming the worst that can happen. Or we step forward into the unknown and assume it will be brilliant.”

—Sandra Oh, actress, activist

Quotes on hard work and never giving up

11. “Don't let fear stop you. Don't give up because you are paralyzed by insecurity or overwhelmed by the odds, because in giving up, you give up hope. Understand that failure is a process in life, that only in trying can you enrich yourself and have the possibility of moving forward. The greatest obstacle in life is fear and giving up because of it.”

—Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America

12. “Do not not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.”

—Joan Didion, author and essayist

13. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”

—Helen Keller, author, political activist, and lecturer

14. “You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.”

—Maya Angelou, poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist

15. “Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to require the most from you.”

—Caroline Myss, writer

16. “Run to the fire, don’t hide from it.”

—Meg Whitman, business executive, political activist, and philanthropist

Quotes on hard work and success

17. “If you are successful, it is because somewhere, sometime, someone gave you a life or an idea that started you in the right direction. Remember also that you are indebted to life until you help some less fortunate person, just as you were helped.”

—Melinda Gates, philanthropist, former general manager at Microsoft, and co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

18. “Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”

—Marie Curie, physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields.

19. “Instead of looking at the past, I put myself ahead twenty years and try to look at what I need to do now in order to get there then.”

—Diana Ross, singer, actress, and record producer

20. “We learned about dignity and decency—that how hard you work matters more than how much you make...that helping others means more than just getting ahead yourself.”

—Michelle Obama, lawyer and former First Lady of the United States of America

Read more: 29 Quotes About Strong Women, by Strong Women

Quotes on hard work and being a trailblazer

21. “As a leader, I am tough on myself and I raise the standard for everybody; however, I am very caring because I want people to excel at what they are doing so that they can aspire to be me in the future.” 

—Indra Nooyi, business executive, former chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo

22. “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but ought to be."

—Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady of the United States

23. “There are going to be people along the way who will try to undercut your success...but if you just focus on the work and you don’t let those people sidetrack you, someday when you get where you’re’ll know that it was you and the people who love you that put you there.”

—Taylor Swift, singer, songwriter

24. “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, then, you are an excellent leader.”

—Dolly Parton, singer, songwriter, author, actress, humanitarian

25. “Write your own part. It is the only way I’ve gotten anywhere. It’s much harder work, but sometimes you have to take destiny into your own hands.”

—Mindy Kaling, writer, producer, actress

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