15 MLK Quotes to Inspire Your Work and Beyond

Post Last Updated By: Eric Schad

On MLK Day, we honor an important figure in American history: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We celebrate his legacy of leadership and perseverance with MLK quotes to inspire you to achieve your most ambitious goals.

Martin Luther King Jr. is one of the most well-known icons of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. He worked to bring together African Americans in the northern and southern United States to protest the systems of segregation and inequality that kept white and black Americans apart.

Personal and professional growth can also feel unattainable at times. With the many financial, educational, and social challenges we face in our digital era, inspiration is essential to continue your march toward your own vision of professional success.

Affecting positive change can be as simple as giving a hand to one person in need, joining a community-level or virtual project to improve a piece of your city, or participating in a national organization. Regardless of how you would like to impact the world, making it happen is difficult if you feel discouraged about your employment status or are insecure about your finances. 

Thus, a remote work arrangement that allows you to work from home full-time or on a partial work from home basis can be an excellent step toward work-life balance. Doing the work to find a position perfect for you can have a ripple effect, leading to the ability to reach into your community to share your gifts.

This year, make the decision to achieve your career goals. Take inspiration from these powerful MLK quotes as you continue to reach your highest potential.

When You Experience Rejection

Before you find your perfect job, you will inevitably encounter rejection. Whether it comes in the form of an interview that didn’t go as planned or a job application that doesn’t make it to the second round of the hiring process, facing rejection is difficult.

Even after disappointment, keep your head held high with the following MLK quotes that will lift your spirit and inspire you to get back into a positive mindset.

1. “He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”

Crafting the perfect cover letter only to receive a generic “thank you for your interest…” email in response is disheartening and deflating. But remember, depending on the size of the company, hiring managers may receive hundreds or thousands of applications for one job alone. While not always easy, letting go of the anger from rejection is essential to professional growth in the long run.

2. “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.”

When you aren’t selected for a job opportunity that really speaks to you, recovering from the disappointment can be difficult. However, channeling those feelings into positive action can help you move closer to your next career.

Use rejection as an opportunity to reinforce your skills and your commitment to your field. Take an online class, read a new book within your industry, or attend a local event. When you truly love what you do, you will put in the work to score your dream job.

3. “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.”

Some job searches last weeks, while others last months or years. When you begin your job search, you may be infused with energy and inspiration, but as you encounter roadblocks, your optimistic mindset can change to one of uncertainty. Having doubts while looking for a new job and facing rejection is normal and commonplace. What is most important during the job hunt is perseverance.

Take time away from your search so you don’t burn out. Spend time with loved ones and prioritize self-care. Once you’ve taken a break, come back to your search with the determination to meet your goals in spite of obstacles that may lie ahead.

4. “Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.”

Some rejections sting more than others. Usually, they come in the form of hurtful criticism or the modern-day “ghosting” to all of your job applications. When you find yourself angry and spiteful, pause to breathe and visualize the potential consequences of your actions.

You don’t want to risk burning bridges. Even when someone treats you unfairly, removing yourself from a toxic conversation or application process is tantamount to maintaining a positive outlook.

When Changing Careers

Making the leap to a new field can be scary. Even if you’ve done your research, acquired new skills, and have the knowledge you need to take on new challenges, making the move to apply for jobs in a new field requires bravery.

Take the following MLK quotes on your journey through workplace transition to help you stay encouraged and motivated to land a job you love.

5. “The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”

Excuses and avoiding conflict are just two aspects of being human, and everyone has a hundred reasons not to do something. This permeates into many facets of a person’s life, leading to unhappiness, career stagnation, and even depression, especially when a person remains stuck at a job they loathe.

But as MLK states, the quality of life is what makes life itself worth living. If you’re stuck at a dead-end job or one that may have once appealed to you but no longer does, you might feel trapped. Therefore, assertiveness and making a positive change is essential. And that’s what remote work aims to do. With flexibility and work-life balance, you can work to live instead of the opposite. You just might find a noticeable change in your mood and sense of self-worth.

6. “We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”

One of the most common questions professionals face is when to make the jump to a new career. This is a very personal decision that must take into consideration your financial circumstances, family dynamics, and your own commitment to pursuing opportunities in a new field.

Even if you’ve established a plan, you may hesitate because stepping outside of the status quo is never an easy task. In times like these, you have to go forward knowing you are prepared to handle any new obstacle that arises.

7. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.

Taking the safe route is human nature. But it will not yield extraordinary results. As a result, switching careers may not always be comfortable, but the struggle to achieve your new goals will help make you stronger.

You have the opportunity to become a more well-rounded professional when you step out of your comfort zone and try new things. You will most likely never regret the chances you take, but the ones you pass up are much easier to become missed opportunities that breed self-doubt.

8. “Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle.”

If you are ready to make a change, you have the power to put your plan into action. If you need to attain additional education, certifications, or even learn a new language, these are all possibilities no matter your age or career status.

Although many professionals avoid changing careers because of the number of years they have already devoted to their current field, failure to adapt and grow over time can lead to a lack of future opportunities. Take the harder path and reap the rewards that come along with it.

When Taking the Leap into Remote Work or Freelancing

Taking the leap into freelance work—much like switching career paths—takes immense effort, determination, and courage. When you have skills you want to share and a desire to assert more control over your professional life, working from home as an independent contractor can be a rewarding and lucrative decision.

Keep yourself inspired on the freelancing journey with the following MLK quotes.

9. “No person has the right to rain on your dreams.”

There will always be people who doubt your vision. Although this can be frustrating, no one can take away your drive to succeed unless you allow it. Instead of letting negativity bring you down, use this as fuel to push yourself toward your goals with even more determination.

10. “If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

As you begin working as a freelancer, set yourself up for success by taking things one step at a time. Start with one project and do it to the best of your abilities. Working on one or two things and making them portfolio-worthy is a much better strategy than trying to go too big and not fulfilling expectations.

11. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.”

Taking the leap into remote work can feel daunting. Yet according to King, situations like this are just a normal part of life. You may feel like you’re in a period of darkness in your professional life with little room for advancement. But just when you feel overcome, you can visualize the goals and dreams you have. Visualization is the first step toward success. So even when you feel defeated or don’t have the energy to embrace a change to remote work, remember that it’s a normal occurrence. All you need is perseverance and the right attitude.

12. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

No matter where you are in your journey as a freelancer, you will always feel some level of uncertainty. Trust yourself to make the decisions that will continue to take you to the next level. If you scan the market frequently, stay informed on trends in your industry and, most importantly, remain committed to improving your skills, you will have no problem exceeding the goals you set for yourself.

On COVID and the Uncertainty of the Future

COVID continues to dole out uncertainty and fear in massive doses. And even with vaccines on the horizon, you still may have an overwhelming feeling of dread. This can fill every aspect of both your personal and professional lives. However, humankind has overcome major obstacles, and this is yet another hurdle. But you will survive with some inspiration from Dr. King.

13. “Whatever your life’s work, do it well.”

News media and COVID coverage are deflating. You hear about the rise in infections, the number of people dying, and so on. Eventually, it starts to wear on you. You may feel as though your work suddenly isn’t as important or you’ve been sapped of motivation. Furthermore, you may just need an adjustment to working from home and limiting distractions. But just remember the pride you have in your work in your career.

Don’t fall into the trap of lackluster work as a result of fear or uncertainty. As Dr. King says, whatever your life’s work, do it well. Not only does it demonstrate your resolve, but it also gives you an uplifting sense of accomplishment.

14. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

This self-explanatory MLK quote is all about perseverance that you can apply directly to a COVID-era world. Disappointment in the form of layoffs, furloughs, or reduced hours are rampant. But even with these setbacks, remember that everything will improve. In this regard, hope is a powerful weapon against the doldrums of a virus and an uncertain future.

Volunteering and Remote Work for Social Good

Volunteering provides an opportunity to give something back to the community. And even in a remote role, virtual volunteering is still something you can do to create a better world. So if you’ve ever wondered how to contribute, use this inspirational MLK quote.

15. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”

If you want to connect your passion for social good and your career path, consider virtual jobs in the nonprofit sector. Right now, remote-friendly businesses are in need of professionals to help elevate the presence of their cause.

Virtual Vocations has a nonprofit work from home jobs category where you can search for current non-profit remote job openings and grow your career while being part of a cause close to your heart.

Inspiring Your Career Path With Ideas From MLK

Only once in a generation do people experience someone with as much conviction, fervor, and drive as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But even decades after his death, MLK quotes and his legacy serve as a way to inspire you in your personal life, career path, and beyond. Take his ideas to heart, and you just might find that your dedication to yourself, your profession, and others not only leads to success but also an inspiring force to others.

What MLK quotes inspire you? Do you have a favorite not included on the list above? Connect with Virtual Vocations on FacebookTwitterLinkedInInstagram, and YouTube to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you!


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