The original “Queen of Comedy” Lucille “Lucy” Ball, continues to be an icon of fiery sass and humor for every generation. Her timeless comedic talent still sets the standard for those desiring to follow in her celebrated entertainment footsteps.
Here are six inspiring quotes from her that will motivate you to stand out from the crowd and never give up on your dreams:
1. “One of the things I learned the hard way, was that it doesn’t pay to get discouraged. Keeping busy and making optimism a way of life can restore your faith in yourself.”
In business and our personal lives, we are bombarded daily by outward criticism and inward self-doubt. In order to realise the success we strive for and attain the goals we hope to achieve, it’s important to practice a strong positive outlook.
Although Ball was known for being an inherently shy girl, when she was 15 years old, she convinced her mom to allow her to attend New York Drama School. The administrator of the school, unable to see the talent hidden behind the shyness, wrote to her mother telling her not to “waste her money and the school’s time with this shy, awkward young lady.”
Refusing to be deterred by the shortsighted criticism, Ball dug in her heels, overcame her shyness, and went on to become the talented comedic actress and icon we know and love today. Just imagine how unfortunate it would have been if she had taken the negative criticism to heart and decided to give up her passion.
2. “Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work—and realising what is opportunity and what isn’t.”
Today, we are very much conditioned to expect instant gratification in all areas of life. It’s important to remember, however, that true personal and professional success is achieved through tenacity and hard work. Very seldom does “luck” play a substantial role in building a solid and promising future.
Few people may realise that beyond the laughter and crazy shenanigans that Ball is so well known for, she was a trailblazing businesswoman who mapped out her professional path and keenly took advantage of opportunities that came her way.
Behind the scenes, she was co-creator, owner, and partner of Desilu Productions with her husband, Desi Arnaz. I Love Lucy was the first real sitcom developed by a husband and wife team, and under Desilu Studios, the show pioneered the multi-camera shot and filmed in front of a live audience—something no one else was doing at the time.
Being a female owner of a film production company in the 1960s was unprecedented. But, Ball didn’t stop there. Instead, she would eventually buy out Desi and become the first female CEO of a major television and movie production company. Her hard work and perseverance created a legacy to last for generations.
3. “I’d rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven’t.”
Regrets are a fact of life both personally and professionally. However, most of us would probably admit that we learned some valuable things about ourselves from past mistakes and mishaps. Most would agree that our biggest regrets are related to the opportunities and experiences that we didn’t seize when we had the chance.
Ball’s career in the entertainment world was full of various ups and downs that included many B movies and lackluster performances. However, she continued to forge ahead learning from each and every experience. She was forty years old when she finally hit her stride and began her journey with I Love Lucy. Ball didn’t let the fact that Hollywood considered her to be “old” to stop her from fulfilling her dreams.
Instead of letting the long road of disappointments and closed doors discourage her, Ball refused to give up and found a way to create her own destiny and achieve the success that she had worked so hard for.
4. “I dyed my hair this crazy red to bid for attention. It has become a trademark, and I’ve got to keep it this way.”
We live in a culture where most of us just want to fit in. There is a pressure to conform to a set of expectations in both our professional and personal lives. However, it’s often when we take a risk to set ourselves apart, that doors of opportunities and experiences open for us.
For example, Ball’s natural hair colour was a light to medium brown with reddish tones. Early in her career, she bleached it blonde in hopes of being able to compete with the plethora of bombshell blondes of the era. She eventually realised, however, she needed to stand out, not blend in!
In a past interview, Ball is quoted stating, “Not being a beauty, I hated any part in a picture which depended on beauty. I resented work where looks were that important. There are so many glamour girls that I felt it was silly for me to try to compete with them.”
Dyeing her natural brown hair the colour red was one of the greatest risks Ball took early in her career, but it became one of the late comedian’s most beautiful physical features that helped her stand out and succeed in Hollywood. She shared, “I had to learn to concentrate on developing my personality—to have an individual approach. The way you feel about yourself has a lot to do with the impression you make.”
5. “The more things you do, the more you can do.”
We should never stop striving to learn new skills and grow in knowledge. Taking the steps to constantly evolve in our understanding of our professional and personal life—as well as the world around us—helps build a firm foundation for our present and future.
Ball was a true pioneer for the women of her time. She was not afraid to tackle new things or learn more about the production and business side of her career even though she was encroaching on a man’s world at the time. She knew that any knowledge she gained about the entertainment business would help ensure her future success.
For example, behind the scenes, Ball was an integral part of the business operations of Desilu Productions. She was one of the final voices in all decisions made regarding the show and the production company. And it didn’t stop there. In front of the camera, she portrayed a determined woman diligently trying to work outside of the home in various careers while still tackling the responsibilities of being a housewife and a mother. To put it simply, she just wasn’t scared to try something new.
It’s important to not let fear of failure, or the unknown, deter us from taking chances to break the mould and step out of our comfort zone. The possibilities for growth, success, and achievement are endless.
6. “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.”
It’s quite profound how much we can learn from the fortitude and spunk exuded from Lucille Ball, the “Queen of Comedy.” As we’ve seen through these quotes, Ball refused to let others dictate who she would become or what she would achieve. Instead, she had a firm grasp on her own self-worth and was determined to forge ahead to fulfill her dreams.
She demonstrated that self-confidence and inner strength are vital to professional and personal success—a lesson that we would all be wise to remember.