Who do you look to for motivation? Millionaire CEOs? Successful entrepreneurs? Famous creators of tech startups? How about Sherlock Holmes? Arthur Conan Doyle’s mystery-solving creation has long been held up as one of the most brilliant and methodical figures in fiction; while his modern television incarnation may have more quirks, he still knows how to get things done and be the absolute best at what he does. Here are 20 quotes from the BBC show that will help you be your best, even if you’re not the world’s most respected consulting detective.
1. “You, being all mysterious with your cheekbones and turning your coat collar up so you look cool.”
John Watson knows that half of the secret to success is looking the part. If you want to be the best you can be, always dress for action and deploy your cheekbones at maximum levels.
2. “So we go around the sun! If we went around the moon or round and round the garden like a teddy bear, it wouldn’t make any difference! All that matters to me is the work!”
While it’s generally best to have a good idea of how the solar system works, Holmes still has a point; when you focus on one thing you’re good at, there’s not much time for anything else, and that’s OK. Putting all your energy toward being excellent at what you do will make you even more excellent at what you do.
3. “People don’t really go to heaven when they die. They’re taken to a special room and burned.”
Lying to yourself and not facing up to reality will only stand in your way. Holmes knows that bluntness is just another word for truth, and that being committed to the truth is the only way to excel. Cut through red tape and don’t waste your time beating around the bush.
4. “Because you’re an idiot. No, no, no, don’t be like that, practically everyone is.”
It’s important to have confidence in yourself. After all, at the end of the day, the only person you’re responsible for answering to is yourself. Do you want to let yourself down? Sherlock Holmes never lets himself down.
5. Sgt. Sally Donovan: “Are these human eyes?”
Holmes: “Put those back!”
Donovan: “They were in the microwave!”
Holmes: “It’s an experiment!”
Don’t let the fear of being seen as weird stop you from exercising your brain to its fullest. If you’re curious about something, explore it, and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t keep eyes in your microwave.
6. “Look at you lot. You’re all so vacant. Is it nice not being me? It must be so relaxing.”
Modesty and a sense of proportion are essential when you’re trying to rise to the top of your personal and professional life.
7. Watson: “So I’m basically filling in for your skull?”
Holmes: “Relax, you’re doing fine.”
Encouraging the people around you to live up to their potential is a great way to motivate yourself; give yourself the same advice you’d give your friends and forgive yourself for little mistakes. If you can help others succeed, you can do the same for yourself.
8. “Dear God, what is it like in your funny little brains? It must be so boring!”
The ability to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes will give you a fresh new perspective. Developing empathy for others is a great way to maximize your potential by expanding your creativity and thinking outside the box.
9. “Bitterness is a paralytic. Love is a much more vicious motivator.”
Like Holmes, take the time to study human nature. Understanding how people work and what motivates them will take you far — when you understand your own motivations, you’ll be better able to pursue them, and when you understand other people’s, you’ll rarely encounter any unpleasant surprises.
10. Watson: “Are you wearing any pants?”
Holmes: “… No.”
Never be embarrassed. Own who you are and be confident about it; the people who feel the most comfortable in their own skin are often the people who are the most successful, because they never let a lack of confidence or a fear of embarrassment hold them back.
11. “Wrong! It's one possible explanation of some of the facts. You’ve got a solution that you like, but you're choosing to ignore anything you see that doesn’t comply with it.”
Holmes’s ability to consider all possibilities while analyzing all of the facts allows him to be the best at what he does. Remember that just because you like an answer, that doesn’t always make it the right answer.
12. “You heard me perfectly, I’m not saying it again.”
Holmes never wastes time repeating himself. Take your cue from him: If you’ve made your point, move on and don’t spend a bunch of unproductive time explaining things over and over.
13. “How would you describe me, John: resourceful, dynamic, enigmatic?”
If other people had to describe you in a few words, what would they say? Like Holmes, try to make sure that the first traits that leap to mind when other people think about you are positive ones. To be successful, you want to present yourself as a resourceful, valuable person.
14. “Look, this is a six. There’s no point in my leaving the flat for anything less than a seven, we agreed. Now go back and show me the grass.”
Only take the time to do things if they’re worth your time. Holmes maximizes his schedule by doing several minor tasks at once rather than dedicating all his energy to one small thing.
15. Watson: “Do you just carry on talking when I’m away?”
Holmes: “I don’t know, how often are you away?”
Make use of all your resources — that includes friends and business connections.
16. “Punch me in the face.”
Courage is a vital quality. Live up to your fullest potential, like Holmes, by never avoiding a challenge or shying away from an unpleasant task.
17. “Before Bluebell disappeared it turned luminous ‘like a fairy,’ according to little Kirsty, then the next morning Bluebell was gone! Hutch still locked, no sign of a forced entry. What am I saying? This is brilliant. Phone Lestrade, tell him there’s an escaped rabbit.”
Holmes knows never to discount an idea just because it seems silly at first. If you take the time to consider it, you might just end up with your next big breakthrough.
18. “You’ll be back to normal; we all will, once we’ve excreted it.”
Don’t let setbacks discourage you. Those who maximize their potential acknowledge the fact that mistakes, obstacles and pitfalls often occur, but, like Holmes, simply accept them and move on to the next thing.
19. “What I’m trying to say is that, if there’s anything I can do, anything you need, anything at all, you can have me. No, I just mean… I mean… if there’s anything you need — it’s fine.”
Morgue worker Molly Hooper knows that being proactive and prepared to lend a hand in any situation is the best way to make yourself an essential part of the team. Especially if that involves faking someone’s death.
20. “I am you. Prepared to do anything. Prepared to burn. Prepared to do what ordinary people won’t do. You want me to shake hands with you in hell? I shall not disappoint you.”
Having a hard time in the career department? Feeling intimidated by someone you work with? Afraid others don’t really see how dedicated and hardworking you really are? Just be like Sherlock and tell them you’re prepared to do anything… and that you’ll see them in hell.