“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.”— C.S. Lewis. Upon glancing at the list below, you may be thinking, “What gives, Theo? These are not business quotes.”
Not the traditional kind, no.
This collection is a patchwork made entirely from children’s books, animated films, and Disney-owned properties.
I’m planning to share more insights from the likes of Drucker, Churchill, Winfrey, Jobs, etc., but it occurred to me that 1) you’ve probably seen many of those quote lists before and 2) children’s stories simply operate on a higher plane of awesomeness.
By the last statement, I mean that a well-chosen Ronald Dahl quote can say something just as revealing about business life or human psychology as any management guru, but the Ronald Dahl quote carries a special added weight — a magical, tingly quality that puts us back in touch with the realm of wonder, curiosity, and creativity once easily accessible in childhood. I for one think it’s a beautiful place to be reminded of every so often.
I hunted through a relatively large number of web lists, wherever possible avoiding the more banal Disney advice (“Whistle while you work“, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). My selection consists of quotes intended primarily to make you think, make you smile, warm your heart, that contain deeper wisdom than what might be apparent on first sight, or those with a certain arcane, inexpressible loveliness — something that can only be understood with the heart. Save some or roll your eyes at all. Be my guest.
- “Let the wild rumpus start!”
— Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
- “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
— The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland
- “What you see and what you hear depends a great deal on where you are standing. It also depends on what sort of person you are.”
— C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew
- "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Do you understand?"
— Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean
- “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”
— Hector Barbossa, Pirates of the Caribbean
- “But in truth,” said Bull, “we are going nowhere. That my friend, is the irony of our constant movement.”
— Rebecca Rupp, The Dragon of Lonely Island
- "It's better to use your head than break your back."
— Ernst Robinson, Swiss Family Robinson
- “Numbing the pain for a while will only make it worse when you finally feel it.”
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- “The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone
- “Be who you are and say how you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
— Dr. Seuss, Cat in the Hat
- “Everything in this room is eatable. Even I’m eatable. But that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies.”
— Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
- "A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men."
— Ronald Dahl, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
- Mad Hatter: “Have I gone mad?”Alice Kingsley: “I’m afraid so. You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”
— Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland
- "We be of one blood, ye and I."
— Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book
- “Yes, we too are stardust.”
— Jostein Gaarder, Sophie's World
- “I understand what you're saying, and your comments are valuable, but I'm gonna ignore your advice.”
― Roald Dahl, Fantastic Mr. Fox
- “And it occurred to him that there were two parts to being a better person. One part was thinking about other people. The other part was not giving a toss what other people thought.”
— Mark Hadon, A Spot of Bother
- "Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it."
— Rafiki, The Lion King
- “I’m only brave when I have to be. Being brave doesn't mean you go looking for trouble.”
— Mufasa, The Lion King
- “Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what is outside, but what is inside that counts.”
— Merchant, Aladdin
- “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say nothing at all.”
— Thumper, Bambi
- “Let it go. Let it go.”
— Elsa, Frozen
- "Why would they change math?"
— Mr. Incredible, The Incredibles 2
- “I never look back darling, it distracts from the now.”
— Edna Mode, The Incredibles
- “It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities."
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.""The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things.""The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."
— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
- “A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.”
— Zeus, Hercules
- "All right! We did not die today. I call that an unqualified success."
— Fear, Inside Out
- "Authority should derive from the consent of the governed, not from threat of force!"
— Barbie, Toy Story 3
- “Everybody falls out of the tree sometimes. They just won't admit it!”
— Ellie, Ice Age: The Meltdown
- "Shh. Shh. Shh. Shh. Do you hear that? It’s the winds of change."
— Randall, Monsters INC.
- “The Rainbow Fish shared his scales left end right. And the more he gave away, the more delighted he became. When the water around him filled with glimmering scales, he at last felt at home among the other fish.”
— Marcus Pfister, The Rainbow Fish
- "I don't want to survive. I want to live."
— The Captain, WALL-E
- “When the light turns green, you go. When the light turns red, you stop. But what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?”
— A Light In the Attic, Shel Silverstein
- “When you find out you can live without it and go along not thinkin’ about it, I’ll tell you something true: The bare necessities of life will come to you.”
— Baloo, The Jungle Book
- "Today is a good day to try."
— Quasimodo, The Hunchback of Notre Dame
- “She had blue skin,And so did he.He kept it hidAnd so did she.They searched for blueTheir whole life through,Then passed right by-And never knew.”
— Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It
- “Ariel, listen to me. The human world is a mess.”
— Sebastian, The Little Mermaid
- "Some days are like that. Even in Australia."
— Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
- “Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always try to be a little kinder than is necessary?”
— J. M. Barrie, The Little White Bird
- "The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all."
— The Emperor, Mulan
- "Where you tend a rose, my lad, a thistle cannot grow."
— Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
- “Darlin, forever is a long, long time, and time has a way of changing things.”
— Big Mama, The Fox and the Hound
- “She warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for beauty is found within.”
— Narrator, Beauty and the Beast
- “No great hunter wastes his time on rabbits.”
— Gaston, Beauty and the Beast
- “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”
― Ronald Dahl, The Minpins
- “You can’t ever be really free if you admire somebody too much.”
— Tove Jansson, Tales from Moominvalley
- “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not.”
— Dr. Seuss, The Lorax
- “Words can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manner unclear. Grant her the wisdom to choose her path right, free from unkindness and fear.”
— Neil Gaiman, Blueberry Girl
- “I don’t understand it any more than you do, but one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.”
— Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
- “Charlotte stopped. A moment later a tear came to Wilbur’s eye.‘Oh, Charlotte,’ he said. ‘To think that when I first met you I thought you were cruel and bloodthirsty!’ When he recovered from his emotion, he spoke again. ‘Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.’”
— E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web
- "Frog said, 'I wrote 'Dear Toad, I am glad that you are my best friend. Your best friend, Frog.''Oh,' said Toad, 'that makes a very good letter.'Then Frog and Toad went out onto the front porch to wait for the mail. They sat there, feeling happy together."
— Arnold Lobel, Frog and Toad Are Friends
- “Then his heart made up his mind.”
― Lindsay Mattick, Finding Winnie
- “Sometimes,” said Pooh, “the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”
― A.A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh