L-R (clockwise): Joanna Sun, Matina Jewell, Angela Smith, Sophie Scott, Raquel Boechat, Alice Almeida, Ela Staniak and Mary Ellen Iskenderian.
What makes a simple turn of phrase so powerful that it becomes a mantra for generations? It’s quite simply a combination of memorable wording, motivational psychology, and a little biology. Aspiration is what makes us human; that drive to exceed our evolutionary limits. And words are incredibly powerful. They give life to ideas, and convey purpose, values, character and culture. They help leaders cast vision for the promise of the future and they remind us to learn from the mistakes of our past.
When you repeat a phrase or word, it can become a mantra of sorts, and humans have chanted mantras for centuries. Believed to help with fear, anger and depression; relieve digestive, reproductive and cognitive disorders; and improve memory and concentration, the regular chanting of a mantra can be a powerful tool for quietening all that external noise so we can focus on what really matters.
Whether you use a mantra, a motto or a motivational quote, it’s important to have something to hand (or mind, rather) to link you to your goals and values, to soothe and inspire.
We asked some women to share their favourite motivational quote or mantra for 2023…
Matina Jewell, Leadership Strategist, Best-Selling Author, International Keynote Speaker
“With change happening to us all so fast now it’s important that we are evolving to stay ahead. My word to guide me through 2023 is ‘evolve’. And so I love this quote by William Faulkner: ‘You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.’”
Angela Smith, Founder & MD, MediaSmiths
“The last couple of years have been introspective for me. I’ve taken time to look at what really matters in my life and have made some significant changes. Family, wellness and being challenged professionally in a way that gives back are key. In particular, part of my values shift saw me sell one my businesses that was a major part of my daily life for 15 years, and evolve my life to focus on personal and professional growth.
“My mantra is: ‘I no longer force things. What flows, flows. What crashes, crashes. I only have space and energy for things that are meant for me,’ by Billy Chapata. It’s not about things being easy – it’s about embracing what feels right and going with it. When things flow this allows me to serve others effectively.”
Ela Staniak, Feminine Leadership Coach
“My motivational quote for 2023 is: ‘The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me,’ by Ayn Rand. In the last nearly 15 years working with female leaders internationally, I have witnessed, time and time again, those women with incredible potential who struggle to achieve their next level of evolution.
“Women who felt disconnected, ‘at capacity’, undervalued and unsupported personally and professionally. Women who struggled to breakthrough the perception of the glass ceiling.
“Having faced adversity in my own life, from losing both parents as a teenager, discrimination in the workplace and abuse in intimate relationships, I learned that you must be able to rise above your circumstances. Circumstances are an illusion of your perception. Learning how to co-exist with resistance and navigate conflict, while being powerfully connected to self and living in alignment with values, is a recipe to achieving the most life-altering results, beyond imagination.
“Most people default to moving away from tension, or resolve it in an unproductive manner (self-sabotage alert). However, those who are willing to face discomfort head-on are the ones who earn their worth and master their ‘inner game’.
“This is where momentum with integrity is born. Stop tolerating anything less but greatness in all areas of your life and show up for yourself first in 2023 with intuition, passion and confidence.”
Alice Almeida, Founder & MD, The Amber Network
“I have two motivational quotes which I turn to quite a bit, depending on the mood I’m in. The first is: ‘Failure is a better teacher than success.’ I have a fear of failure (like most people, I’m sure), and it sometimes tries to stop me from doing things. So, I try to look at it as a learning opportunity. If it fails, I now know, and if it doesn’t, then I breathe a huge sigh of relief and tackle the next hurdle!
“The second is from Brené Brown, who I love. It’s: ‘Staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection’. I’ve had to peel back all my defensive and protective barriers for The Amber Network. I need to be vulnerable to allow my members to feel comfortable in opening up, sharing, and reaching out. I don’t do fake; I keep it real, as I feel that’s what people resonate with most.”
Raquel Boechat, Founder of Canada Starthub & Communication Strategist
“I have been an entrepreneur for 24 years, and determination and creativity are part of my DNA. When I came to Canada with my daughter, it was a challenging transition to move to another country and open a business. I realised newcomers are like new skaters sliding on ice – we don’t know the field. ‘We must be bold and look forward with our heads up’ – not face the floor, otherwise, we fall. We need to embrace our fears and trust our instincts and capabilities to be brave to learn, overcome challenges, and start a new path.
“Another positive behaviour I use when interacting with others is being open to listening and learning. Being humble and not underestimating any idea. It does not mean that I agree with everything. At the same time, by saying yes, my team and partners are more open to sharing their thoughts. The more ideas you say no to, the fewer you will receive. When I am overwhelmed and with difficult decisions to make, or in a difficult conversation, I take a deep breath to give myself a pause to think. ‘Always remember to breathe.’
“I believe movement generates movement and that we are responsible for making the changes and the future we want to build. Guiding international entrepreneurs to come to Canada, I experience that even with all the planning strategies and managing risks, all of us are full of uncertainty and unpredictable situations. The only assurance we have is that we cannot control or plan everything. We must ‘enjoy the adventure because the challenges make the achievements greater’.”
Joanna Sun, Executive Advisor, Viridian Advisory
“The mantras that I have on repeat, and will continue to use in 2023, are: ‘When you have taken the time to build a strong character full of discipline, energy, power and optimism, you can have anything and do anything you want in your outer world.’
“Also, I continually remind myself that the ritual of physicality is based on the principle that says, ‘As you care for your body, so you care for the mind. As you prepare your body, so you prepare your mind. As you train your body, so your train your mind.’”
Sophie Scott, Speaker, Author & Journalist
“My mantra for this year is to ‘act with intention when it comes to what to keep and what to leave behind.’
“KEEP: Moving your body because it makes you feel good; taking time for rest; setting boundaries; prioritising self-care; practicing self-compassion; being kind; meditation and breathwork; regulating your nervous system; acknowledging and sitting with your feelings.
“LEAVE: Punishing yourself with ‘should’ statements; equating productivity with your value and self-worth; people pleasing; striving for perfection; neglecting your own needs; ruminating on mistakes; numbing and escapism through unhealthy coping mechanisms; judging yourself or others.”
Mary Ellen Iskenderian, President & CEO, Women’s World Banking
“I have this really marvellous poster of Eleanor Roosevelt on my office wall with her quote, ‘No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.’ I remind myself of that, literally, daily. I have such regard for her as a leader, and how constantly challenging her own feelings of inferiority were. She just persevered and it’s very inspiring to me. I carry it with me all the time.”
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