In Honor of His Farewell, 17 Inspiring Quotes From President Obama

Entrepreneur Staff
4 min read

President Barack Obama said goodbye to the nation with an inspiring and emotional farewell speech last night in his adopted hometown of Chicago.

With tears and laughs, Obama recalled his eight years running the country -- boasting of reducing unemployment, reversing a recession and winning marriage equality. He highlighted his accomplishments and recalled his groundbreaking 2008 presidential campaign.

The 44th president of the United States encouraged the audience to embrace inclusiveness, to listen to the opinions of others and to be wary of threats of racism to our democracy. He expressed his hope for America’s young people, and he called upon the people to relieve racial tensions -- “hearts must change,” he said. No matter what the future holds, he encouraged us to stick together to improve the nation. Because in the end, “We rise or fall all as one.”

A teary Obama thanked his wife Michelle, daughters Sasha and Malia and Vice President Joe Biden.

Here are some of Obama’s most inspiring quotes from his eight years in office.

Related: Inspirational Quotes From 2016 Commencement Speakers

On sticking together

“Democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity -- the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.”

On respecting others

“Each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.’”

On discrimination

“We must uphold laws against discrimination. … But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts much change.”

On remaining true to ourselves

“Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.”

On self-belief

“I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change -- but in yours.”

On being an entrepreneur

"Entrepreneurship means ownership and self-determination, as opposed to simply being dependent on somebody else for your livelihood and your future. Entrepreneurship brings down barriers between communities and cultures and builds bridges that help us take on common challenges together."

On change

"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."

On taking control of the future

"We did not come to fear the future, we came to shape it."

On progress

"If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress."

On persistence

"The future rewards those who press on. I don't have time to feel sorry for myself. I don't have time to complain. I'm going to press on."

On hard work

"We need to steer clear of this poverty of ambition, where people want to drive fancy cars and wear nice clothes and live in nice apartments but don’t want to work hard to accomplish these things. Everyone should try to realize their full potential."

On taking action

"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something."

On cynicism

"Cynicism is a sorry kind of wisdom."

On being excellent

"We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent."

On fighting for what you believe

"We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not when it’s easy, but when it is hard."

On working your way up

"Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you end up."

And finally, on breakfast

"Why can't I just eat my waffle?"

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