Have you ever sat and thought about the history of civilization? Have you ever wondered where we’d be if it wasn’t for certain people like Nikola Tesla or Charles Darwin? What is it about the inspirational people in history that allowed them to not only stand out from the crowd but to completely change how the crowd moved!

If you’re looking for motivation then what better place to start than with the people who changed the world? From inspirational leaders to the ordinary people who stood their ground and made a difference. Let’s take a look at the most inspirational people in history and what you can learn from them.  


Confucius may have been born back in 551 BCE, but his words still ring with importance today. He was a philosopher and the first teacher in China. He believed that education should be broadly available, and so he set out to make it so. 

Confucius also set out moral, ethical, and societal guidelines that became the basis of Confucianism. His teachings would later form Chinese state ideology and go on to influence Chinese history and all of civilization.


Socrates is considered one of the founders of Western philosophy. He believed that governments should be ruled by people who have the most knowledge, ability, and the deepest understanding of themselves. Something we could certainly do with passing around a few world leaders today!


Plato was one of Socrates’ students and went on to become the most famous philosopher in the history of civilization. To put him in context, 2,400 years ago he was teaching that every human being has a deep-down desire to reach for a higher truth that would transform their lives and in turn change the world for the better.

He believed that we are all unified by this fact. You can consider him the chief spokesman for any believer in faith to ever come out of Western civilization.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth

You can’t have a list of the most influential people in the history of mankind without including Jesus! Jesus challenged Jewish beliefs by walking alongside the outcasts of society.

He was a teacher and a healer. Just think about the symbolism of the cross today. Even if you’re not religious, it is as iconic as symbols get.


Seneca is most commonly associated with a branch of philosophy known as stoicism. Noted for saying “difficulties strengthen the mind, as labor does the body” it’s easy to see how Seneca and stoicism’s role in history has shaped many motivational speeches we hear today.

His philosophies were based around the importance of finding something meaningful in life, living modestly, and avoiding distraction. As we invest more and more time in our phone screens and Netflix subscriptions, the words of Seneca could not ring more true. 

St Francis of Assisi

St Francis of Assisi is said to have denounced his life of luxury and devoted his life to Christian teachings, which included living in poverty. He very much echoed the teachings of Jesus of Christ in his humility and service. He once said, “All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.”

An important lesson to take on board when in the face of adversity. St Francis of Assisi quotes are some of the most motivating and inspirational of all history. 

William Shakespeare 

Quite possibly the most revered writer of all time. William Shakespeare managed to use his characters to convey all the possible aspects of human character. In reading his work we can learn so much about ourselves. His contribution to the world of art has gone on to influence both writing and theatre throughout history until today. 

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa was the epitome of hard work. She teaches us to set our minds to that which we find important and keep going no matter what. She dedicated her entire life to helping those in need all around the world. She showed us the importance of compassion and looking out for those around us. 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

If there is one story in the history of mankind of one man standing up for what he believed in right until the end, then it’s Martin Luther King. King was the leader of the civil rights movement up until his assassination in 1968.

Using non-violent protest and civil disobedience, King made huge waves for ensuring that civil rights were brought to all people, regardless of their race. 

Albert Einstein

Einstein is the man behind the theory of relativity, which completely revolutionized our understanding of gravity, space, time, and the universe. Interestingly enough, Einstein’s work is also considered responsible for the later development of paper towels, solar power, and even stock market forecasts!

Nikola Tesla

When you charge your phone, open your fridge for a cold drink, or switch on the AC when it’s 100 degrees outside, you have Tesla to thank. Nikola Tesla is responsible for inventing alternating current (AC). If inventing electricity as you know it today wasn’t enough… All those neon bar signs… That was Tesla too! 

Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln is widely considered the greatest American president of all time. He fought against the Confederacy and brought an end to slavery in America. Lincoln could be viewed as the epitome of moral courage.

Some of Lincoln’s most famous quotes such as “If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” give us a great insight into his intelligent, jovial and stoic character.

Other Inspirational People in History

This is by no means a definitive list of the most inspirational people in history. History is rich with characters who have inspired and changed the course of civilization. Winston Churchill, Stephen Hawkins, Marie Curie, and even Walt Disney! The list goes on.

This is not even beginning to mention the writers, musicians, sportspersons, and other public figures who have used their craft to encourage us to be true to ourselves. And never settle for anything less than what we believe in.

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