It’s Independence Day in the ol’ US of A, which means most of America’s government professionals are enjoying a day off from work. Many will take this opportunity to head out to the cabin, host a family barbecue, or watch some fireworks. While I will certainly be enjoying these activities too, I also like to mark my Fourth of July holiday each year by taking time to reflect on America’s legacy and our shared duty to continue shaping it today. In that spirit, I wanted to share some quotes from many of America’s great thinkers and doers as inspiration for your holiday.
These aren’t the big hits and chart toppers – I’m not talking ‘bout life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness or death and taxes here. Consider these the deeper cuts. We’re going beyond revolution, digging into some in-the-trenches topics that make GovLoop tick – think plain language, public engagement, career development, leadership, and more.
See a quote you like? Share the inspiration on social media as a nerdy way to say, “Happy Independence Day!”
On Plain Language
- “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” – Thomas Jefferson
- “Eloquence is the power to translate a truth into language perfectly intelligible to the person to whom you speak.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “The art of art, the glory of expression, and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” – Walt Whitman
- “As it is my design to make those that can scarcely read understand, I shall therefore avoid every literary ornament and put it in language as plain as the alphabet.” – Thomas Paine
- “It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws be so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they cannot be understood.” – James Madison
On Problem Solving
- “It is not in the still calm of life, or in the repose of a pacific station that great characters are formed… Great necessities call out great virtues.” – Abigail Adams
- “The best way to solve any problem is to remove its cause.” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
- “No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings.” – John F. Kennedy
- “Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right.” – Henry Ford
On Performance Measurement
- “Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “There is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than incessant business.” – Henry David Thoreau
- “When it becomes necessary to do a thing, the whole heart and soul should go into the measure or not attempt it.” – Thomas Paine
- “Never confuse movement with action.” – Ernest Hemingway
On Public Engagement
- “No law is stronger than is the public sentiment where it is to be enforced.” – Abraham Lincoln
- “The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.” – Walt Whitman
- “To be of most service to my brother I must meet him on the most equal and even ground.” – Henry David Thoreau
On Leadership and Inspiration
- “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
- “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” – Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
- “I and mine do not convince by arguments, similes, rhymes. We convince by our presence.” – Walt Whitman
- “The function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers.” – Ralph Nader
On Continuous Improvement
- “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “All big changes in human history have been arrived at slowly and through many compromises.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
- “Man cannot… make circumstances for his purpose, but he always has it in his power to improve them when they occur.” – Thomas Paine
On Innovation and the Future
- “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice? Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “The struggle for today is not altogether for today – it is for a vast future also.” – Abraham Lincoln