Five Profound Quotes from Ordinary People That Changed My Life for Good

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“You are only really good at a few things. Find what you are good at and surround yourself with people who are good at everything else.”

Dr. David Thompson

I’ve met countless people who have “that thing” — an indescribable touch — that sets them apart.

These are everyday people with extraordinary wisdom. As they stand quietly in the line of humanity, rarely do they draw attention to themselves. Seldom are they aware of the positive impact they make in the lives of people each day.

Here are five seemingly benign yet insightful quotes from five remarkable people who have influenced my life in profound ways. Like rare pieces of glass in a kaleidoscope — they have added a dimension, beauty, and healing I may not have known without them.


“I keep looking for someone to blame. But there’s no one.”

I think about this when I’m confused or wandering around in the aftermath of a painful situation. Like Cory, I look for someone or something for which to pin the blame. I fall into the illusion of blame relief. After all, if I can find a scapegoat, I can make sense of unjust circumstances. The problem with this is I don’t have all the pieces of the puzzle. I may never know why things are what they are. There are too many unknown variables. Sometimes there’s absolutely nothing I can do.

Impact: Acceptance is the path to peace.


“I treat the Almighty like He’s the ATM God.”

With her classic clarity and vulnerability, Noelle changed my life. She bared her soul about waiting for God to answer prayer and the subsequent anger and pain when the answer was counter to what she hoped.

“It occurred to me it’s like I roll up to Him in my spiritual car, plug in my card, and expect to get exactly what I plugin,” she said.

I do the same thing. I want God to answer according to what I want the universe to be. I blame Him for letting bad things happen and stomp my foot when things don’t go my way.

Impact: Trust the goodness of God’s character — not the outcome.


“I can’t make you participate in life.”

Though Tracy was referencing a family member, it hit close to home. Her realization became my realization.

Her premise is: I am not answerable for anyone else’s participation. Nor are they responsible for mine. I am the leading actor in my life. Ultimately, no matter what happens to me, I am the one who chooses how I will live. Whether passive or active, participation is a choice.

Impact: Only I can choose how I want to participate in my life.

Participation — that’s what’s gonna save the human race.

Pete seeger

“Hardness doesn’t look good on you.”

My ex-husband, Jeff, said this during a heated argument in response to the f-bombs and harsh words spewing from my mouth. He spotlighted my you-can’t-hurt-me-I’m tougher-than-you shield I was holding up. When he blurted it out, it was as if he threw a pitcher of ice water on my heart.

I was quickly moving away from tenderheartedness — a quality I find necessary in becoming fully human.

It is hard to hear the truth from someone who’s hurt you. But truth is truth.

Jeff’s statement is a warning to me for all the times when I let my heart harden. I’m learning to lean into the honesty of feeling the pain instead of hiding behind a shield of toughness.

Impact: A tender heart is a beauty all its own. Lose the hardness.


“I do what I can.”

Matt did a kind favor for me. As a response to my thanks, instead of, “You’re welcome,” Matt said, “I do what I can.”

The simplicity and humility of his statement continue to be a balm to my soul.

I often feel that I don’t do more for people. I feel guilty and inadequate for not saving the world. Matt’s words remind me that doing what I can is the gift. I’m learning to lose the negative: what I’m not doing or giving and instead focus on what I can give.

Love, time, talent, finances are my resources. That’s what I can draw on. That’s what I can do.

Impact: Trust your gift. A little goes a long way.


A favorite professor, Dr. David Thompson, once said: “You are only really good at a few things. Find what you are good at and surround yourself with people who are good at everything else.”

I am most grateful to daily rub shoulders with people who challenge my thinking. Hopefully, the challenges enlarge the borders of my heart, soul, mind, and deeds.

Published by katenelsonfoster

Living and writing Jimmy Valvano's advice: "If you laugh, you think, you cry that's a full day..."

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