Inspirational quotes from incredibly successful women

Words have the power to move crowds. They can shine the light of awareness on ignorance and spread positivity — or be used as weapons. They can mend or break hearts. Some of the most successful women in the world have spoken words that will empower you to go after your wildest dreams and create your own version of success. Their inspirational quotes ring true regardless of your age, background or career choices. 

Because before becoming business moguls, Hollywood celebrities, authors, scientists and activists, these leaders had to rely on self-belief and perseverance to carve their path. They struggled with feelings of doubt and faced obstacles related to societal expectations. They were broke before they were CEOs. They were laughed at before being emulated. They were silenced before finding the power of their voice. Their words hold weight.  

Whether you need them to guide you in your career or as a graduation quote, here are 60 timeless and powerful quotes from successful women that will inspire you to accomplish anything you desire and pave the way for others to do the same. 

Inspirational quotes — from women — to uplift and inspire you

1. “I always believed that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success.” – Gloria Vanderbilt

2. “Let whoever is in charge keep this simple question in her head: Not, how can I always do this right thing myself, but how can I provide for this right thing to be always done?” – Florence Nightingale  

3. “When you love and accept yourself, when you know who really cares about you, and when you learn from your mistakes, then you stop caring about what people who don’t know you think.” – Beyoncé

4. “The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” – Coco Chanel

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

6. “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.” – Sara Blakely 

7. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘wow I’m not really sure I can do this’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.” – Marissa Mayer

8. “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.” – Arianna Huffington 

9. “If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” – Erica Jong

10. “When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” – Audre Lorde

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

12. “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 

13. “I’m always perpetually out of my comfort zone.” – Tory Burch

14. “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

15. “Dying seems less sad than having lived too little.” – Gloria Steinem

16. “If you can’t go straight ahead, you go around the corner.” – Cher

17. “I am a woman with thoughts and questions and sh*t to say. I say if I’m beautiful. I say if I’m strong. You will not determine my story – I will.” – Amy Schumer

18. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be.” – Diane Von Furstenberg 

19. “Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.” – Hillary Clinton

20. “What I do for my work is exactly what I would do if nobody paid me.” – Gretchen Rubin

21. “It’s not your job to like me, it’s mine.” — Byron Katie

22. “Once you figure out what respect tastes like, it tastes better than attention.” – Pink

23. “The way you tell your story to yourself matters.” – Amy Cuddy

24. “Run to the fire; don’t hide from it.” – Meg Whitman

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

26. “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

27. “Getting past those labels, for me, pretty much really easy because I define myself.” – Serena Williams

28. “What makes you different or weird, that’s your strength.”- Meryl Streep

29. “I had two options. One was to remain silent and never to speak and then to be killed by the terrorists. The second option was to speak up for my rights and then die. And I chose the second one.” – Malala Yousafzai

30. “Leadership belongs to those who take it.” – Sheryl Sandberg

31. “I don’t want to be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot by the Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education.’ This is the cause to which I want to devote my life.” – Malala

32. “I learned compassion from being discriminated against. Everything bad that’s ever happened to me has taught me compassion.” – Ellen DeGeneres

33. “We don’t back off obstacles and tough situations, we use them to make us stronger.” – Jada Pinkett Smith

34. “No matter how senior you get in an organization, no matter how well you’re perceived to be doing, your job is never done. Every day, you get up and the world is changing; your customers are expecting more from you. Your competitors are putting pressure on you by doing more and trying to beat you here and beat you there.” – Abigail Johnson

35. “You don’t become what you want, you become what you believe.”- Oprah Winfrey

36. “Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.” – Sheryl Sandberg

37. “With every experience, you alone are painting your own canvas, thought by thought, choice by choice.” – Oprah Winfrey

38. “I am willing to be seen. I am willing to speak up. I am willing to keep going. I am willing to listen to what others have to say. I am willing to go forward even when I feel alone. I am willing to go to bed each night at peace with myself. I am willing to be my biggest, bestest, most powerful self.” – Emma Watson 

39. “Don’t assume that the answers are out there in the form of somebody else already doing something. Sometimes they are. But you have to think beyond that.” – Abigail Johnson

40. “I’d get kicked out of buildings all day long, people would rip up my business card in my face. It’s a humbling business to be in. But I knew I could sell and I knew I wanted to sell something I had created. I cut the feet out of those pantyhose and I knew I was on to something. This was it.” – Sara Blakely

41. “I had no idea when I went to college what I’d be doing. I took organic chemistry and did terribly, but I was good in English and art. I took many courses and participated in as many activities as I could. I learned a lot about every single thing.” – Martha Stewart

42. “Do what in your heart you know is right. It is easy to get caught up in your ambitions, but no job is worth not being true to yourself.” – Irene Rosenfeld

43. “I can never be safe; I always try and go against the grain. As soon as I accomplish one thing, I just set a higher goal. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am.” – Beyoncé

44. “Courage – you develop courage by doing small things like just as if you wouldn’t want to pick up a 100-pound weight without preparing yourself.” – Maya Angelou

45. “I think that it is very important if you know what you want, understand where you are heading towards, and try your best to get it. It is only when we use our hearts to do it, and fall in love with what we are doing, then can we really get real determination.” – Emma Watson

46. “The biggest message I have for young women is, Don’t start cutting off branches of your career tree unnecessarily early. Sometimes women say, I know I want to have a family or play in the local symphony, and they start pulling themselves out of their career path. You don’t have to take yourself out of the running before you even start.” – Mary Barra

47. “Rarely are opportunities presented to you in a perfect way. In a nice little box with a yellow bow on top. ‘Here, open it, it’s perfect. You’ll love it.’ Opportunities — the good ones — are messy, confusing and hard to recognize. They’re risky. They challenge you.” – Susan Wojcicki

48. “I’ve made lots of mistakes. Probably the worst one – I would say they tie. It’s either when I didn’t move fast enough on something, or I didn’t take a big enough risk.” – Ginny Rometti 

49. “I don’t have to prove anything to anyone, I only have to follow my heart and concentrate on what I want to say to the world. I run my world.” – Beyoncé

50. “Being yourself sounds like a saccharine prescription for how to make it in an aggressive culture. But it’s not as sweet as it sounds. It means not acting in a way that’s false just to fit in. It’s expressing your talents, values, and opinions in your style, defending your rights, and never sacrificing your self-respect. That is power.” – Melinda Gates 

51. “I work very hard, and I play very hard. I’m grateful for life. And I live it – I believe life loves the liver of it. I live it.” – Maya Angelou 

52. “If you’re put on a pedestal you’re supposed to behave like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.” – Margaret Artwood

53. “When you’ve worked hard, and done well, and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you. You reach back and you give other folks the same chances that helped you succeed.” – Michelle Obama 

54. “The formula of happiness and success is just being actually yourself, in the most vivid possible way you can.” – Meryl Streep 

55. “Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Curie 

56. “Just be true to yourself, and listen as much as one is able to to other people whose opinions you respect and look up to but in the end it has to come from you. You can’t really worry too much by looking to the left and the right about what the competition is doing or what other people in your field are doing. It has to be a true vision.” – Anna Wintour 

57. “I think most of the impact I have over time most people will not actually know about.”  – Scarlett Johansson

58. “I’d rather regret the risks that didn’t work out than the chances I didn’t take at all.” – Simone Biles 

59. “Fearlessness is like a muscle. I know from my own life that the more I exercise it the more natural it becomes to not let my fears run me.”  – Arianna Huffington

60. “I never dreamed about success. I worked for it.” – Estee Lauder