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✨30 Quotes That Will Inspire Your Groups
And a simple facilitation strategy that will take your groups to new heights
There is nothing like a powerful quote to inspire and motivate. Pearls of well-expressed wisdom can help us make meaning of our daily struggles. Quotes can have the effect of changing our thinking and helping us see something in ourselves that we want to change or overcome.
Quotes can be a powerful way to begin a group session. In facilitation, we call this an invocation* because it calls on a greater aspiration. It’s a simple strategy that helps your group members connect with the larger purpose of why you are together. And it can elevate the group’s experience to a whole new level.
You can come back to your quote at the end of the session. This helps your group members make meaning from their experiences. It can help spark new ideas and a renewed sense of what is possible.
Choose a quote that connects to your session aim and that will resonate with your group. I encourage you to curate your own collection of quotes that have meaning for you, and that will inspire your groups.
Here are 30 of my favorite invocations and quotes that I want to share with you.
“The function of art is to do more than tell it like it is — it’s to imagine what is possible.” bell hooks, American Author, Professor, Feminist
"I thought of myself as like the jazz musician: someone who practices and practices and practices in order to be able to invent and to make his art look effortless and graceful. I was always conscious of the constructed aspect of the writing process, and that art appears natural and elegant only as a result of constant practice and awareness of its formal structures." Toni Morrison, American Author
"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." Joseph Chilton Pearce, American Author
“Traveller, there is no path. You make the path by walking.” Antonio Machado Spanish Poet
“Anything can be the object of your meditation, and with the powerful energy of concentration, you can make a breakthrough and develop insight. It’s like a magnifying glass concentrating the light of the sun." - Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Monk
“Music can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” Leonard Bernstein, American Conductor
“A writer—and, I believe, generally all persons—must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” Jorge Luis Borges, Argentinian Writer, Poet, & Philosopher
"One of the greatest gifts anybody can give is the inspiration to develop courage. If people feel comfortable enough to develop some courage, then they can do anything they really want to do—why, they can devise their own lives.” Maya Angelou American Author, Poet, and Activist
"The sea is made up of drops of water. That what you do, where you are is of significance. It may just be that your act of courage encourages someone else who was likely more apprehensive." Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, South African Theologian
"There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside of you." Maya Angelou American Author, Poet, and Activist
"There have been great societies that did not use the wheel, but there have been no societies that did not tell stories." Ursula K Le Guin, American Author
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
T.S. Eliot, American Poet, Essayist, & Playwright
“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.” Joseph Campbell, American Professor, Writer & Orator
"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions." Oliver Wendell Holmes, American Jurist
"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Marcel Proust, French Novelist, Essayist, & Critic
“Tell me and I’ll forget. Show me, and I may not remember. Involve me, and I’ll understand.” Native American Proverb
“Listening is the most difficult skill to learn and the most important to have.” African Proverb
“Good teachers introduce new thoughts, but great teachers introduce new ways of thinking.” Adam Grant, American Popular Science Author
“In the word question, there is a beautiful word - quest. I love that word.” Elie Weisel, Romanian-born American Writer, Professor, & Political Activist
“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller, American Architect, & Systems Theorist
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Pablo Picasso, Spanish Painter
“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” Pablo Picasso, Spanish Painter
“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” John Dewey, American Philosopher, Psychologist, & Educational Reformer
“Education must be understood as growth or the facilitation of growth.” John Dewey, American Philosopher, Psychologist, & Educational Reformer
“Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers.” Voltaire, French Writer
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Essayist
“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” Heraclitus, Greek Philosopher
“One way or another, if human evolution is to go on we shall have to learn to enjoy life more thoroughly.” Mihály Csíkszentmehályi
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, American Cultural Anthropologist
“Our first teacher is our own heart.” Native American Cheyenne Proverb
*I first learned about the power of invocations in facilitation through the inspiring work of Partners for Youth Empowerment, and in the book Catch The Fire: An Art-full Guide to Unleashing the Creative Power of Youth, Adults, and Communities by PYE Co-founders Peggy Taylor and Charlie Murphy.
Gwyn Wansbrough is a Facilitator and Experience Designer based in Barcelona, Spain. She empowers people and organizations around the world to create dynamic and empowering learning experiences online and in person. She runs an online cohort-based course called Breakthrough Facilitation. She writes about facilitation, creativity, and learning in a weekly newsletter called The Quest. Subscribe here or visit www.gwynwansbrough.com to learn more.