“How are things going right now, and how are YOU?”

Yes, if we were sitting together enjoying a great cup of coffee, it would be one of the questions I’d eventually ask after we listed out all the things keeping our calendars filled. Our culture delights in activity, in staying busy, in becoming, in pursuing.

It can be far easier to say WHAT we doing than to admit HOW we’re doing, because, if you’re like me, there are successful days and challenging seasons. It’s tempting to compare our achievements to the successes of others and to be overwhelmed by fear that we’ll take a misstep along the way. If we aren’t careful, we can ping-pong back and forth between “nailed it!” and “failed it!”

And that game of emotional table tennis can exhaust even the most dedicated soul.

“When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable. In short, we are worthwhile because we have successes. And the more we allow our accomplishments — the results of our actions — to become the criteria of our self-esteem, the more we are going to walk on our mental and spiritual toes, never sure if we will be able to live up to the expectations which we created by our last successes. In many people’s lives, there is a nearly diabolic chain in which their anxieties grow according to their successes. This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction.” 

Henri Nouwen wrote those words. No, he’s not a leadership guru or founder of a Fortune 500 company. Rather, he’s a Dutch theologian who turned his attention to reminding people of how greatly they are loved.

His words are level-setters, to be sure.

I’ve gathered up some of my favorite quotes and scriptures for you and me, to post on sticky notes and turn into wallpaper and write in our journals. The words are reminders of what matters as we strive to become leaders at work, at home, and in our communities.

The twelve quotes are from business leaders, authors, entrepreneurs, actors, scientists, athletes, and more. No matter your pursuit, you’ll find their words to be encouraging, challenging, and soul-strengthening. Then, I’m sharing four of my favorite scriptures. They’ll calm fears and redirect your eyes away from the ping-pong of comparison.

Instead of waiting for fear to subside, make it your friend. Because when you’ve got a vision, you don’t have time to wait around for fears to vanish before you start moving. — Jessica Hoenegger, Noonday Collection founder

“I love that this morning’s sunrise does not define itself by last night’s sunset.” — Steve Maraboli, behavioral science academic

“Winning doesn’t always mean being first. Winning means you’re doing better than you’ve done before.” — Bonnie Blair, Olympic speed skater

You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability. — Brene Brown, speaker and author

“Embrace uncertainty. Some of the most beautiful chapters in our lives won’t have a title until much later.” –Bob Goff, NY Times Best-selling author

“People, even more, than thing, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Never throw out anyone.” — Audrey Hepburn, actress

If you wish to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius. — Joseph Addison, 18th century essayist and politician

You’re not alone. This fight to be better, to be our true selves powerfully in this world—the fight to own our brave—is a fight that takes a village. — Kimberly Davis, leadership coach and entrepreneur

And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.  ― Eugene H. Peterson, teacher and theologian

RELATED: 30 Quotes That All Twenty-Somethings Should Live By

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success. Dale Carnegie, motivational speaker and author

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.
— Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: You don’t give up.” —Anne Lamott, NY Times best-selling author

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up or quit. — Galatians 6:9

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears. — Philippians 1:6

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you. — Deuteronomy 31:6

Strong God, I’m watching you do it, I can always count on you – God, my dependable love. Psalm 59:17