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Your Personal Motto Matters


Patience, perseverance and faith.

It’s a motto I’ve had throughout my career and I find that if I can lean into even one of those values on a daily basis, I can get through nearly anything.

It’s a rallying cry — but it’s also a reminder of things I want to work on:

• Patience is a challenge and always has been. Once I know what I want to do, tempering the urge to charge ahead is hard to resist. This reminds me to balance action with careful thought.

• Perseverance comes more naturally, but we all have the moments in which we want to throw our hands up and walk away. This is a call to march on.

• Faith is just that — having the faith it will all work out in the end. Without a sense of hope, few projects stand a chance.


What makes the best motto? Ask an expert.

I spoke with John J. Tunesi of Liongam, Secretary of the Heraldry Society and a former research assistant at the College of Arms in London (since 1484, the body responsible for recording and issuing coats-of-arms in the UK).

What should someone consider when creating a motto?

We were designing a coat of arms for this chap, and I kid you not, he wanted a motto in Latin: ‘Do unto others before they do unto me,’ sort of thing. It’s not the right sentiment, is it?

I think most people would choose a motto that reflects well on them and perhaps their family.

It gives you a certain guideline or direction, doesn’t it? Something to live by. It gets you out of bed in the morning, or you hit a brick wall in life and you say, ‘Gosh, I’m going to get round this.’

A few examples?

The motto of the Prince of Wales, “Ich Dien”, resonates with his service because it’s “I serve”.

• The Wodehouse family, Earls of Kimberley, use the motto “Agincourt” because in 1415 one of their forebears fought at the battle of Agincourt. Often mottos became a slogan, a war cry.

• The family of Chumley, they’ve got two helmets and a wheat sheaf [on their coat-of-arms] — their motto is “valor is the safest helm”. Referring back to the charge in the helm in the arms. Heraldry loves the pun, play on names.

• For me, having a motto has been a guide-star in a world that often moves at a break-neck pace. It can also be a salve, when that world goes eerily silent.

For me, having a motto has been a guide-star in a world that often moves at a break-neck pace. It can also be a salve, when that world goes eerily silent.


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