Motivation Quotes from Leonardo Da Vinci

19 09 2009

As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.

Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.

Patience serves as a protection against wrongs as clothes do against cold. For if you put on more clothes as the cold increases, it will have no power to hurt you. So in like manner you must grow in patience when you meet with great wrongs, and they will then be powerless to vex your mind.

You do ill if you praise, but worse if you criticize, what you do not understand.

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve. He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.

Every now and then go away, have a little relaxation, for when you come back to your work your judgment will be surer since to remain constantly at work will cause you to lose power of judgment. Go some distance away because then the work appears smaller, and more of it can be taken in at a glance, and a lack of harmony or portion is more readily seen.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.

He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.

I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.

Life is pretty simple: You do some stuff. Most fails. Some works. You do more of what works. If it works big, others quickly copy it. Then you do something else. The trick is the doing something else.

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.

Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.

Who sows virtue reaps honor.

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.   

Study the science of art and the art of science.

Learn how to see and remember that everything is connected to everything else.

Good students naturally thirst after knowledge.

There are three classes of people.  Those who see: those who see when they are shown: those who do not see.

Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his teacher.

Success Quotes Collected by Elementary Students

14 09 2009

Teamwork is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.

When a collection of brilliant minds , hearts, and talents come together…expect a masterpiece.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

No problem can withstand the sustained power of great attitudes, they are like ripples in the water…they spread.

There are no shortcuts in any place worth going.  When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this…you haven’t.

The team on top of the mountain did not fall there.

Your attitude almost always determines your altitude in life.

Courage does not always roar.  Sometimes, it is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

If your are not riding the wave of change…. you will find yourself beneath it.

A ship in the harbor is safe…but that is not what ships were made for.

Only those who see the invisible can do the impossible.

It takes only a single idea, a single action to move the world.

Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple.

Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.

Some people dream of success, while others wake-up and work hard at it.

The race goes not always to the swift…but to those who keep on running.

Success is a journey, not a destination.

Life Lessons From Brittany Bishop

13 09 2009

These life lessons were written by my daughter Brittany when she was 10 years old.  They were written as an exercise of drawing simple life lessons from ordinary experiences from life.

You can’t rewind life.

If you meet a  skunk make friends or run away.

If you name your store make sure it has a good name.

When you travel read the signs.

Learn a new language.

Easy is not always better.

It’s not boring with someone you like.

People most always miss the obvious.

We would see a lot more if we learn to see.

It’s easy to look but we have to learn to see.

If you’re with a teacher you like you have a better chance at doing better at school.

You mostly have room for cake but not always for broccoli.

If you are drawing a horse and it looks like a turtle, make it a turtle.

Sharing is when you give somebody cookies rather than a baloney sandwich.

Questions show you are interested.

Babies understand with their mouth.  Kids understand with their hands and adults understand with their ears.

A good conversation is like a journey and each word is like a pathway.

When you understand a strategy of a game it is less frustrating.

When you answer a question your learning is done.

When you forget things you have to go back for them.

Things don’t go right when you’re hungry.

Whining may sound musical but it is very annoying.

You might get surprises if you don’t demand things.

To know how to get somewhere you need a map.

To get life lessons you need experiences.

You can learn a lot from road signs.

You need to learn how to yield and not block intersections.

Killer Phrases: The Top 40

12 09 2009

from Yes, But . . . by Charles Chic Thompson

1.  Yes, but . . .

2.  We tried that before.

3.  That’s irrelevant.

4.  We haven’t got the manpower.

5.  Obviously, you misread my


6.  Don’t rock the boat!

7.  The boss (or competition) will eat you alive.

8.  Don’t waste time thinking.

9.  Great idea, but not for us.

10.  It’ll never fly.

11.  Don’t be ridiculous.

12.  People don’t want change.

13.  It’s not in the budget.

14.  Put it in writing.

15.  It will be more trouble than it’s  worth.

16.  It isn’t your responsibility.

17.  That’s not in your job


18.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

19.  Let’s stick with what works.

20.  We’ve done all right so far.

21.  The boss will never go for it.

22.  It’s too far ahead of the times.

23. . . . laughter . . .

24. . . . suppressed laughter . . .

25. . . . condescending grin . . .

26. . . . dirty looks . . .

27.  Don’t fight city hall!

28.  I’m the one who gets paid to think.

29.  What will people say?

30.  Get a committee to look into that.

31.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

32.  You have got to be kidding.

33.  No!

34.  We’ve always done it this way.

35.  It’s all right in theory . . . but . . .

36.  Be practical!

37.  Do you realize the paperwork it will


38.  Because I said so.

39.  I’ll get back to you.

40. . . . silence . . .

What Killer Phrases do your students say?

The Journey of an Idea

12 09 2009

By Bob Bishop

With a note….

An idea is created

Flowing, splashing, giving light to its path

Radiating, illuminating, dazzling, brilliant

Pouring light into the dark caverns of the mind

Springing life from light

Bursting with new vitality

Active, joyful, beautiful, playful, and fragile

Marvelous, wonderful, extraordinary makers of change


Shadows of gloom threaten to destroy

Cracking the ground beneath

Shooting flames of doubt, fear, criticism

Exploding from everywhere to overtake, encircle and kill

Adversity pursues innovation

Clouds of overwhelming judgment and negativity attack

Building barriers, edifices of tradition

To surround and stifle that which is new


With a note

Light breaks through

Shattering the paradigms of resistance

Bursting the walls

Letting the idea fly free!

What if we had Listened?

12 09 2009

What if we had listened to these Killer Remarks?

Chanute, aviation pioneer, in 1904: AThe Octave [flying] machine will eventually be fast; they will be used in sport, but they are not to be thought of as commercial carriers.

The Literary Digest, 1889: The ordinary horseless carriage is at present a luxury for the wealthy; and although its price will probably fall in the future, it will never come into as common use as the bicycle.

Thomas Edison, on electricity in the home: Just as certain as death, [George] Westinghouse will kill a customer within six months after he puts in a system of any size.

Science Digest, August 1948: Landing and moving around on the moon offer so many serious problems for human beings that it may take science another 200 years to lick them.

Chicken Little: AThe sky is falling.

Physicist and mathematician Lord Kelvin (1824-1907), who seemed to have a corner on the wrongheaded one-liner in his day: X rays are a hoax. Aircraft flight is impossible. Radio has no future.

Elisha Gray, inventor, 1876:  As to Bell’s talking telegraph, it only creates interest in scientific circles . . . its commercial values will be limited.

President of Remington Arms Company rejecting patent rights for the typewriter, 1897: No mere machine will replace a reliable and honest clerk.

Daryl F.  Zanuck, head of 20th Century Fox, 1946: ATelevision won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months.  People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.

Charles Duell, U.S. Patent Office director, 1899: Everything that can be invented has been invented.

Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize-winning physicist, 1923: There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom.

Decca Records, turning down the Beatles, 1962: Groups with guitars are on their way out.

Ken Olsen, president of Digital Equipment, 1977: There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.

Western Union, rejecting rights to Alexander Graham Bells telephone, 1878: What use could the company make of an electric toy?

Michigan Savings Bank president advising a colleague against investing in Ford Motor Company:  …the automobile is only a novelty — a fad.

Alice in Lewis Carroll=s Through the Looking Glass, 1872: There’s no use trying.  One can’t believe impossible things.

Thomas Watson, Sr., founder of IBM, 1943: The world capacity for computers is five.

Disney Corporate policy, mid-1970’s: Our cartoons will never be sold on videotape.

Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company: You can have any color you want, boys, as long as its black.

Harry Warner, president of Warner Brothers, 1927: Who wants to hear actors talk!

The Risks of Rewards

8 09 2009
By Alfie Kohn

Many educators are acutely aware that punishment and threats are counterproductive. Making children suffer in order to alter their future behavior can often elicit temporary compliance, but this strategy is unlikely to help children become ethical, compassionate decision makers. Punishment, even if referred to euphemistically as “consequences,” tends to generate anger, defiance, and a desire for revenge. Moreover, it models the use of power rather than reason and ruptures the important relationship between adult and child.

Of those teachers and parents who make a point of not punishing children, a significant proportion turn instead to the use of rewards. The ways in which rewards are used, as well as the values that are considered important, differ among (and within) cultures. This digest, however, deals with typical practices in classrooms in the United States, where stickers and stars, A’s and praise, awards and privileges, are routinely used to induce children to learn or comply with an adult’s demands (Fantuzzo et al., 1991). As with punishments, the offer of rewards can elicit temporary compliance in many cases. Unfortunately, carrots turn out to be no more effective than sticks at helping children to become caring, responsible people or lifelong, self-directed learners.


Studies over many years have found that behavior modification programs are rarely successful at producing lasting changes in attitudes or even behavior. When the rewards stop, people usually return to the way they acted before the program began. More disturbingly, researchers have recently discovered that children whose parents make frequent use of rewards tend to be less generous than their peers (Fabes et al., 1989; Grusec, 1991; Kohn 1990).

Indeed, extrinsic motivators do not alter the emotional or cognitive commitments that underlie behavior–at least not in a desirable direction. A child promised a treat for learning or acting responsibly has been given every reason to stop doing so when there is no longer a reward to be gained.

Research and logic suggest that punishment and rewards are not really opposites, but two sides of the same coin. Both strategies amount to ways of trying to manipulate someone’s behavior–in one case, prompting the question, “What do they want me to do, and what happens to me if I don’t do it?”, and in the other instance, leading a child to ask, “What do they want me to do, and what do I get for doing it?” Neither strategy helps children to grapple with the question, “What kind of person do I want to be?”


Rewards are no more helpful at enhancing achievement than they are at fostering good values. At least two dozen studies have shown that people expecting to receive a reward for completing a task (or for doing it successfully) simply do not perform as well as those who expect nothing (Kohn, 1993). This effect is robust for young children, older children, and adults; for males and females; for rewards of all kinds; and for tasks ranging from memorizing facts to designing collages to solving problems. In general, the more cognitive sophistication and open-ended thinking that is required for a task, the worse people tend to do when they have been led to perform that task for a reward.

There are several plausible explanations for this puzzling but remarkably consistent finding. The most compelling of these is that rewards cause people to lose interest in whatever they were rewarded for doing. This phenomenon, which has been demonstrated in scores of studies (Kohn, 1993), makes sense given that “motivation” is not a single characteristic that an individual possesses to a greater or lesser degree. Rather, intrinsic motivation (an interest in the task for its own sake) is qualitatively different from extrinsic motivation (in which completion of the task is seen chiefly as a prerequisite for obtaining something else) (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Therefore, the question educators need to ask is not how motivated their students are, but how their students are motivated.

In one representative study, young children were introduced to an unfamiliar beverage called kefir. Some were just asked to drink it; others were praised lavishly for doing so; a third group was promised treats if they drank enough. Those children who received either verbal or tangible rewards consumed more of the beverage than other children, as one might predict. But a week later these children found it significantly less appealing than they did before, whereas children who were offered no rewards liked it just as much as, if not more than, they had earlier (Birch et al., 1984). If we substitute reading or doing math or acting generously for drinking kefir, we begin to glimpse the destructive power of rewards. The data suggest that the more we want children to want to do something, the more counterproductive it will be to reward them for doing it.

Deci and Ryan (1985) describe the use of rewards as “control through seduction.” Control, whether by threats or bribes, amounts to doing things to children rather than working with them. This ultimately frays relationships, both among students (leading to reduced interest in working with peers) and between students and adults (insofar as asking for help may reduce the probability of receiving a reward).

Moreover, students who are encouraged to think about grades, stickers, or other “goodies” become less inclined to explore ideas, think creatively, and take chances. At least ten studies have shown that people offered a reward generally choose the easiest possible task (Kohn, 1993). In the absence of rewards, by contrast, children are inclined to pick tasks that are just beyond their current level of ability.


The implications of this analysis and these data are troubling. If the question is “Do rewards motivate students?”, the answer is, “Absolutely: they motivate students to get rewards.” Unfortunately, that sort of motivation often comes at the expense of interest in, and excellence at, whatever they are doing. What is required, then, is nothing short of a transformation of our schools.

First, classroom management programs that rely on rewards and consequences ought to be avoided by any educator who wants students to take responsibility for their own (and others’) behavior–and by any educator who places internalization of positive values ahead of mindless obedience. The alternative to bribes and threats is to work toward creating a caring community whose members solve problems collaboratively and decide together how they want their classroom to be (DeVries & Zan, 1994; Solomon et al., 1992).

Second, grades in particular have been found to have a detrimental effect on creative thinking, long-term retention, interest in learning, and preference for challenging tasks (Butler & Nisan, 1986; Grolnick & Ryan, 1987). These detrimental effects are not the result of too many bad grades, too many good grades, or the wrong formula for calculating grades. Rather, they result from the practice of grading itself, and the extrinsic orientation it promotes. Parental use of rewards or consequences to induce children to do well in school has a similarly negative effect on enjoyment of learning and, ultimately, on achievement (Gottfried et al., 1994). Avoiding these effects requires assessment practices geared toward helping students experience success and failure not as reward and punishment, but as information.

Finally, this distinction between reward and information might be applied to positive feedback as well. While it can be useful to hear about one’s successes, and highly desirable to receive support and encouragement from adults, most praise is tantamount to verbal reward. Rather than helping children to develop their own criteria for successful learning or desirable behavior, praise can create a growing dependence on securing someone else’s approval. Rather than offering unconditional support, praise makes a positive response conditional on doing what the adult demands. Rather than heightening interest in a task, the learning is devalued insofar as it comes to be seen as a prerequisite for receiving the teacher’s approval (Kohn, 1993).


In short, good values have to be grown from the inside out. Attempts to short-circuit this process by dangling rewards in front of children are at best ineffective, and at worst counterproductive. Children are likely to become enthusiastic, lifelong learners as a result of being provided with an engaging curriculum; a safe, caring community in which to discover and create; and a significant degree of choice about what (and how and why) they are learning. Rewards–like punishments–are unnecessary when these things are present, and are ultimately destructive in any case.


Birch, L.L., D.W. Marlin, and J. Rotter. (1984). Eating as the ‘Means’ Activity in a Contingency: Effects on Young Children’s Food Preference. CHILD DEVELOPMENT 55(2, Apr): 431-439. EJ 303 231.

Butler, R., and M. Nisan. (1986). Effects of No Feedback, Task-Related Comments, and Grades on Intrinsic Motivation and Performance. JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY 78(3, June): 210-216. EJ 336 917.



Fabes, R.A., J. Fultz, N. Eisenberg, T. May-Plumlee, and F.S. Christopher. (1989). Effects of Rewards on Children’s Prosocial Motivation: A Socialization Study. DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 25(4, Jul): 509-515. EJ 396 958.

Fantuzzo, J.W., C.A. Rohrbeck, A.D. Hightower, and W.C. Work. (1991). Teachers’ Use and Children’s Preferences of Rewards in Elementary School. PSYCHOLOGY IN THE SCHOOLS 28(2, Apr): 175-181. EJ 430 936.

Gottfried, A.E., J.S. Fleming, and A.W. Gottfried. (1994). Role of Parental Motivational Practices in Children’s Academic Intrinsic Motivation and Achievement. JOURNAL OF EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY 86(1): 104-113.

Grolnick, W.S., and R.M. Ryan. (1987). Autonomy in Children’s Learning: An Experimental and Individual Difference Investigation. JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY 52: 890-898.

Grusec, J.E. (1991). Socializing Concern for Others in the Home. DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY 27(2, Mar): 338-342. EJ 431 672.



Solomon, D., M. Watson, V. Battistich, E. Schaps, and K. Delucchi. (1992). Creating a Caring Community: Educational Practices That Promote Children’s Prosocial Development. In F.K. Oser, A. Dick, and J.L. Patry (Eds.), EFFECTIVE AND RESPONSIBLE TEACHING: THE NEW SYNTHESIS. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Copyright © 1994 by Alfie Kohn. This article may be downloaded, reproduced, and distributed without permission as long as each copy includes this notice along with citation information (i.e., name of the periodical in which it originally appeared, date of publication, and author’s name). Permission must be obtained in order to reprint this article in a published work or in order to offer it for sale in any form. Please write to the address indicated on the Contact Us page.