100 Thoughtful Quotes on Problem Solving & Decision Making

quotes on problem solving and decision making

100 Thoughtful Quotes on Problem Solving & Decision Making

Some of the wisest minds throughout history have offered brilliant insights on how to navigate challenges and make better choices.

In this post, we’ll explore 100 thought-provoking quotes that can guide and inspire you as a problem solver and decision maker.

Quotes on Understanding the Problem

Before you can solve a problem, you need to truly understand it. These quotes emphasize the importance of clearly defining the challenge:

“If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions.” – Albert Einstein

“The formulation of a problem is often more essential than its solution.” – Albert Einstein

“The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” – Confucius

“If you don’t understand the problem, you’ll never find the right solution.” – Peter Drucker

“A problem well-stated is a problem half-solved.” – John Dewey

Quotes on Creativity and Thinking Outside the Box

Innovative solutions often come from looking at old problems in completely new ways. Let these quotes inspire your creative thinking:

“Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.” – Edward de Bono

“If you always think the way you’ve always thought, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” – Henry Ford

“You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.” – Albert Einstein

“The secret of creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.” – Albert Einstein

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller

Quotes on Making Decisions

At some point, after gathering information and considering options, you have to commit to a choice. These quotes discuss effective decision-making:

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing.” – Theodore Roosevelt

“When all think alike, no one thinks very much.” – Walter Lippmann

“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” – Napoleon Bonaparte

“What’s” often right” isn’t right. What’s “proven” isn’t proven in the right way.” – Charles Bukowski

“The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.” – Sun Tzu

Quotes on Learning from Mistakes

Failures are inevitable when taking on difficult challenges. These quotes remind us to embrace mistakes as opportunities to grow:

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk. In a world that is changing quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” – Mark Zuckerberg

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“If you have made mistakes, there is always another chance for you. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose.” – Mary Pickford

“There are no failures – just experiences and their lessons.” – Shelley K. Lacey

Quotes on Perseverance

Problem solving and decision making often require tremendous perseverance. Let these quotes motivate you:

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein

“Perseverance is failing 19 times and succeeding the 20th.” – Julie Andrews

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” – Confucius

“Keep a little fire burning; however small, however hidden.” – Cormac McCarthy

“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.” – William Feather

Quotes on Strategy and Planning

While spontaneity has its place, most complex problems require a strategic, well-planned approach, as these quotes emphasize:

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu

“The better you get at planning your actions, the easier it will be to act.” – Naval Ravikant

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” – Peter Drucker

“The strategy of execution comprises two parts: strategic thinking and strategic doing.” – Paul Smith

Quotes on Simplicity

While complex problems can be daunting, the best solutions are often simple and elegant:

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” – Albert Einstein

“The simplest solution is the most likely answer.” – William of Ockham

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” – Hans Hofmann

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex. It takes a touch of genius to move in the opposite direction.” – Albert Einstein

Quotes on Seeking Different Perspectives

To truly understand a problem and find the optimal solution, it’s critical to consider diverse viewpoints:

“The ability to see things from another perspective is an indispensable tool for problem-solving.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

“A wise man makes his own decisions; an ignorant man follows public opinion.” – Chinese proverb

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” – Wayne Dyer

“Life’s most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Quotes on Trusting Your Instincts

While analysis is crucial, eventually you have to make a judgment call and trust your gut:

“What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.” – Henry David Thoreau

“Intuition will tell the thinking mind where to look next.” – Jonas Salk

“I don’t believe anything, I have to be what I am.” – Bob Dylan

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

“Wherever you are, be there totally.” – Eckhart Tolle

Quotes on Taking Action

Analysis paralysis can leave you stuck. At some point, you need to act decisively, as these quotes emphasize:

“The longest journey begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” – Will Rogers

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.” – Sam Levenson

“Don’t wait. The time will never be just right.” – Napoleon Hill

“If not us, who? If not now, when?” – John E. Lewis


Q: What’s the key takeaway from these quotes?

A: The key takeaway is that effective problem solving and decision making is a holistic process that requires curiosity, creativity, strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, determination, and ultimately, the courage to take action. No single perspective can capture the full essence of navigating life’s challenges.

Q: Which quote resonated most with you personally?

A: For me, the quote that really struck a chord was “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” from Wayne Dyer. It’s a powerful reminder that our mindset and the questions we ask largely determine the solutions we find. Shifting your perspective can unlock entirely new possibilities.

Q: How can I apply these ideas to my own life?

A: The best way is to write down 3-5 quotes that particularly inspire you and put them somewhere you’ll see them regularly, like your desk or the bathroom mirror. Let them marinate in your subconscious. Then, the next time you face a vexing problem or tough decision, revisit those quotes and use them as a launching point for creative thinking, analysis from multiple angles, and trusting your instincts.

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