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  1. Blog
  2. Women to Know
  3. December 6, 2021

38 Motivational Quotes from Successful Women We Admire

Ladies and gentlemen, her

Successful Women Talking
Photo courtesy of Christina @ wocintechchat.com

In order to be successful, you have to learn how to stand up for yourself and follow your own intuition. Luckily, there are tons of independent women who’ve all been in your shoes before, and they have the advice and wisdom to prove it. 

These 38 successful women quotes are perfect for when you need to channel your inner Wonder Woman at work, hype yourself up to be your own biggest advocate, or defy others’ expectations in order to follow your own path. You never know—your name could be on this list next year. Now go get what you want!

Read more: Choosing Your Career Path: How to Plan & Pivot Your Way to a Dream Career

The best successful women quotes on kindness, confidence, and courage

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

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

“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.” 

—Madeleine Albright, politician, diplomat

“What's important for my daughter to know is that...if you are fortunate to have opportunity, it is your duty to make sure other people have those opportunities as well.” 

—Kamala Harris, 49th Vice President of the United States

“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

“If it’s a good idea, go ahead and do it. It’s much easier to apologize than it is to get permission.”

—Grace Hopper, computer scientist, Navy admiral

Read more: 9 Grace Hopper Quotes to Live By

The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” 

—Coco Chanel, fashion designer

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 that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.” 

—Marie Curie, physicist and chemist, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the only woman to win the Nobel prize twice, the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields

“You may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” 

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

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” 

—Eleanor Roosevelt, activist, former First Lady of the United States

“Vulnerability is not about winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up even when you can’t control the outcome.” 

—Brené Brown, professor, lecturer, author, podcast host

Read more: What to Listen to in 2022: The 30 Best Podcasts by Women, for Women

The best successful women quotes on leadership and following your passions

“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

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” 

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

“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

Read more: 7 Types of Leadership: Strengths, Weaknesses & Discovering Your Style

“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

“When one door closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.” 

—Helen Keller, author, political activist, lecturer

“I don’t believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free.” 

—Angelina Jolie, actress, filmmaker, humanitarian

“You can waste your lives drawing lines. Or you can live your life crossing them.” 

—Shonda Rhimes, television show creator, producer, writer

Read more: 18 Powerful Shonda Rhimes Quotes to Live By

“I’ve never thought of myself as a female engineer, or founder, or a woman in tech. I just think of myself as someone who’s passionate.”

—Leah Busque, CEO of TaskRabbit

The best successful women quotes on being and believing in yourself

“You have to do what you dream of doing, even while you’re afraid.” 

—Arianna Huffington, author, co-founder of The Huffington Post, founder of Thrive Global

“You get what you give. What you put into things is what you get out of them.” 

—Jennifer Lopez, singer, actress, dancer

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”

—Alice Walker, writer, poet, social activist

“What makes you different or weird, that’s your strength.”

—Meryl Streep, actress

“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” 

—Serena Williams, professional tennis player

“You are the one that possesses the keys to your being. You carry the passport to your own happiness.” 

—Diane von Furstenberg, fashion designer

“I can’t think of any better representation of beauty than someone who is unafraid to be herself.” 

—Emma Stone, actress

“You can be the lead in your own life.” 

—Kerry Washington, actress, producer, director

“All the people who knock me down only inspire me to do better.” 

—Selena Gomez, singer, actress, producer

“I have come to realize making yourself happy is most important. Never be ashamed of how you feel. You have the right to feel any emotion you want, and do what makes you happy. That’s my life motto.” 

—Demi Lovato, singer, songwriter, actor

“When you realize who you live for, and who’s important to please, a lot of people will actually start living. I am never going to get caught up in that. I’m gonna look back on my life and say that I enjoyed it—and I lived it for me.” 

—Rihanna, singer, actress, fashion designer, businesswoman

“The woman who doesn’t require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” 

—Mohadesa Najumi, writer, social scientist

The best successful women quotes on defying expectations and embracing challenges

“I thrive on obstacles. If I'm told that it can't be told, then I push harder.” 

—Issa Rae, producer, writer, director, actress

“I'm the kind of person who would rather get my hopes up really high and watch them get dashed to pieces than wisely keep my expectations at bay and hope they are exceeded. This quality has made me a needy and theatrical friend, but has given me a spectacularly dramatic emotional life.” 

—Mindy Kaling, writer, producer, actress

Read more: 20 Mindy Kaling Quotes to Bring You Back to Life

“If I disappoint someone, it's their loss for putting that expectation on me when they don't know me. I can't control what they want.” 

—Simone Biles, gymnast 

“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 going...you’ll know that it was you and the people who love you that put you there.”

—Taylor Swift, singer, songwriter

“I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values. and follow my own moral compass, then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” 

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

"I've always had a problem with authority. That's why I had to be my own boss."

—Chelsea Handler, comedian, writer, producer, actress

“A strong woman looks a challenge dead in the eye and gives it a wink.” 

—Gina Carey, independent filmmaker, singer

“My unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this: When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: 'Is this person in between me and what I want to do?' If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.”

—Tina Fey, actress, writer, comedian

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Photo of Cara Hutto

Cara Hutto

Assistant Editor

Cara Hutto is the assistant editor at InHerSight. Her writing primarily focuses on workplace rights, job searching, diversity, and allyship, and she holds a bachelor’s degree in media and journalism from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

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