quotes from famous scientists

17 inspiring leadership quotes from top scientists

Science is a diverse and often difficult field of study. Thus, there are many hurdles to becoming a professional scientist.

But many of the men and women who have done so in the past have achieved great things for the good of all and helped to shape lives around the globe.

Today, many of business leaders share similar aspirations – the drive to discover just how far we can go as a society and to leave the world better than they found it.

But to actually accomplish those leadership goals, it helps to fill our minds and hearts with words that motivate us to keep pressing forward despite our challenges.

Fortunately, many of history’s top scientists – from Newton to Curie to Carver – have shared their thoughts on several important aspects of leadership (e.g., teamwork, mental strength). Taken together, these quotations provide useful insight into the attitudes and mindsets that can lead to success.

Whenever you need inspiration to break new ground in your own life and work, we invite you to read this collection of leadership quotes by top scientists. Plus, to spark further reflection on how each quote relates to the modern world of work, we’ve included links to relevant blog posts, too.

On teamwork

“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for our own improvement.”

Marie Curie, first female Nobel Prize winner and first person to win twice. She was born in Poland and lived from 1867 to 1934.

> Related blog: Neuroscience coaching: self improvement at the workplace

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton, English scientist known for his laws of physics who lived from 1643 to 1727.

> Related blog: How to build a successful employee mentoring program

“I am not so enamored of my own opinions that I disregard what others may think of them.”

Nicolaus Copernicus, 1473 to 1543, astronomer who discovered the sun was the center of the solar system.

> Related blog: How to get eye-opening feedback from your employees

“Were there none who were discontented with what they have, the world would never reach anything better.”

Florence Nightingale, 1820 to 1910, nurse who inspired worldwide health care reform and proper medical care policies.

> Related blog: Should I foster bottom-up ideas? Yes, here’s how and why

On mental strength

“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

> Related blog: How to manage stress and fear at work

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.”

Louis Pasteur, 1822 to 1895, French scientist who developed the food preparation process known as pasteurization.

> Related blog: 1 personality trait the best job candidates share

“It is not easy to be a pioneer – but oh, it is fascinating! I would not trade one moment, even the worst moment, for all the riches in the world.”

Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to graduate from medical school in the United States who lived from 1821 to 1910.

> Related blog: 5 can’t-miss keys to fostering innovation in the workplace

“I think one’s feelings waste themselves in words; they ought all to be distilled into actions, and into actions which bring results.”

Florence Nightingale

> Related blog: Leadership style: Balancing results vs relationships

On resourcefulness

“If you don’t do the best with what you have, you could never have done better with what you could have had.”

Ernest Rutherford, nuclear physicist who was influential in the study of radioactivity during his life from 1871 to 1937.

> Related blog: Resilient leadership: Cultivating greatness at work

“Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It’s time to start thinking.”

Earnest Rutherford

> Related blog: Want to attract investors? Solve these 3 HR hurdles

“I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took any excuse.”

Florence Nightingale

> Related blog: 5 turnover excuses your managers should never make

On preparation

“A known enemy is already half disarmed.”

Louis Pasteur

> Related blog: The business challenges that make it hard to be an employer

“Chance only favors the prepared mind.”

Louis Pasteur

> Related blog: 7 strategies to boost your leadership skills through self-awareness

On reputation

“When you can do the common things of life in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.”

George Washington Carver, African American scientist and teacher who lived from 1864 to 1943. He is known for developing new uses for the peanut.

> Related blog: How to build a successful team: Here’s the essential steps

“It is not the style of clothes one wears, neither the kind of automobile one drives, nor the amount of money one has in the bank that counts. These mean nothing. It is simply service that measures success.”

George Washington Carver

> Related blog: 8 ways to coach employees to better customer service

“Plato is my friend, Aristotle is my friend, but my greatest friend is truth.”

Isaac Newton

> Related blog: How to improve company culture by looking at workplace myths

“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.”

Nicolaus Copernicus

> Related blog: 7 sure-fire ways to earn your employees’ trust

Feeling inspired?

If these quotes from top scientists giving you fresh motivation to be a better leader, we’re here to help. Download our free magazine now: The Insperity guide to leadership and management.

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