I hope this won't feel too "soft" a topic, but I believe a lot can be learned from good quotes (I collect them), so perhaps we could collect good quotes into this thread.

Here are two quotes from my favorites:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'Press on,' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
- Calvin Coolidge (30th President of the United States)

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
- Annie Dillard (U.S. author, poet, and Pulitzer prize winner in 1975 for nonfiction)

Do you have a favorite quote? Please share it!

pmoriarty's picture
Training Badge

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines" Ralph Waldo Emerson

I often think of this when folks defend doing something based solely on, "But that's the way we've always done it!"

MattJBeckwith's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

I have so many Mark H. quotes I could go on and on here.

I enjoy famous quotes as well and enjoyed yours and pmoriarty's.

Although not a great business mind, here's one of my favorite quotes, one that I think about often:

[b]"The moment of victory is much too short to live for that and nothing else." - Martina Navratilova[/b]

TomW's picture
Training Badge

"There are many people who think they want to be matadors, only to find themselves in the ring with 2,000 pounds of bull bearing down on them, and then they discover that what they really wanted was to wear tight pants and hear the crowd roar."
-Terry Pearce

pavodive's picture

This is one that motivates me to "deliver the [i]letter to García[/i]:"

[b]"Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse"[/b]
[To navigate is necessary, to live is not]
Pompey (cited by Plutarch)[/i]

TimBryce's picture

In addition to my "Bryce's Laws" at:
I have a pretty good collection; the Coolidge quote mentioned above is
one of my favorites and I have it framed in my office.

Try these on for size:

"If you tried to do something and failed, you are vastly better off than if you tried to do nothing and succeeded."
- Anonymous

"An optimist is someone who tells you to cheer up when things are going their way."
- Anonymous

"If you do not make the decision, the decision will be made for you."
- Anonymous

"Experience is a wonderful thing. It enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it."
- Anonymous

"Learn from the mistakes of others - you can never live long enough to make them all yourself."
- Anonymous

"A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer."
- Dean Acheson

"It's got to be done and done quickly, so let's get it done."
- General Henry "Hap" Arnold

"Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes, is oft but perseverance in disguise."
- Henry Austin, "Perseverance Conquers All"

"A learned fool is one who has read everything and simply remembered it."
- Josh Billings

"Living without change would be inconceivable and unbearable. At the same time few of us would care to go on living in the midst of ceaseless, chaotic, completely unpredictable change."
- Hadley Cantril

"The work an unknown man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green."
- Thomas Carlyle

"I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act."
- G.K. Chesterton

"Nothing can save England if she will not save herself. If we lose faith in ourselves, in our capacity to guide and govern, if we lose our will to live, then indeed our story is told."
- Winston S. Churchill (1933)

"Any 20 year-old who isn't a liberal doesn't have a heart, and any 40 year-old who isn't a conservative doesn't have a brain.”
- Winston Churchill

"Any idiot can see something wrong. But can you see what is right?"
- Winston Churchill

"Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more."
- Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain)

"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself..."
- Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain)

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress."
- Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain)

"The great trouble with baseball today is that most of the players are in the game for the money and that's it, not for the love of it, the excitement of it, the thrill of it."
- Ty Cobb

"It ain't braggin' if you can back it up."
- Dizzy Dean

"What we need to do is learn to work in the system, by which I mean that everybody, every team, every platform, every division, every component is there not for individual competitive profit or recognition, but for contribution to the system as a whole on a win-win basis."
- W. Edwards Deming

"Learning is not compulsory... neither is survival."
- W. Edwards Deming

"Profit in business comes from repeat customers, customers that boast about your project or service, and that bring friends with them."
- W. Edwards Deming

"A champion is someone who gets up when he can't."
- Jack Dempsey

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."
- Albert Einstein

"It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity."
- Albert Einstein

"Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did."
- Malcolm S. Forbes

"I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done."
- Henry Ford

"The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young."
- Henry Ford

"There is one rule for industrialists and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible."
- Henry Ford

"Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
- Benjamin Franklin

"Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning."
- Benjamin Franklin

“A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.”
- Joseph Hall

"Ever since man began to till the soil and learned not to eat the seed grain but to plant it and wait for harvest, the postponement of gratification has been the basis of a higher standard of living and of civilization."
- S.I. Hayakawa

"Some people, when they hear an echo, think they originated the sound."
- Ernest Hemingway

"Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in."
- President Andrew Jackson

"Hey, big mouth, how do you spell triple?"
- Shoeless Joe Jackson's response to a heckler

“In a republican nation, whose citizens are to be led by reason and persuasion and not by force, the art of reasoning becomes of first importance”
- Thomas Jefferson

"Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves."
- Rudyard Kipling

"Get the future organized - it's too late for the present."
- Werner Kirst

"No man is entitled to the blessings of freedom unless he be vigilant in its preservation."
- General Douglas MacArthur

"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institution and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones."
- Machiavelli, "The Prince" (1513)

"Originality is the one thing which unoriginal minds cannot feel the use of."
- John Stuart Mill, "On Liberty"

"People can be divided into three groups: those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what happened."
- John W. Newbern

"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you."
- Satchel Paige

"A competent leader can get efficient service from poor troops, while on the contrary an incapable leader can demoralize the best of troops."
- General John Joseph "Blackjack" Pershing

"I will not deny that there are men in the district better qualified than I to go to Congress, but gentlemen, these men are not in the race."
- Sam Rayburn

"I've always believed that you can think positive just as well as you can think negative."
- Sugar Ray Robinson

"Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip."
- Will Rogers

"I don't make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts."
- Will Rogers

"There are two things that I want you to make up your minds to: first, that you are going to have a good time as long as you live - I have no use for the sour-faced man - and next, that you are going to do something worthwhile, that you are going to work hard and do the things you set out to do."
- President Theodore Roosevelt
Talk to schoolchildren in Oyster Bay, Christmas-time 1898

"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he
fails, at least fails Daring Greatly so that his place shall never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."
- President Theodore Roosevelt

"Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of intelligent effort."
- John Ruskin

"In an illogical world, the logical person will appear to be illogical."
- Spock, "Star Trek"

"Most ball games are lost, not won."
- Casey Stengel

"Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder."
- Arnold Toynbee

"The supreme accomplishment is to blur the line between work and play."
- Arnold Toynbee

"Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don't want to do and like it."
- Harry Truman

"It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong."
- Voltaire

"We must never despair; our situation has been compromising before; and it changed for the better; so I trust it will again; If difficulties arise; we must put forth new exertion and proportion our efforts to the exigencies of the times."
- President George Washington

"I've always followed my father's advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble."
- John Wayne

"Whenever you find humor, you find pathos close by his side”
- Edwin P. Whipple

"Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much."
- Oscar Wilde

"Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window."
- Steve Wozniak

"Early in life I had to choose between arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance and have seen no occasion to change."
- Frank Lloyd Wright

itilimp's picture
Licensee Badge

My current favourite is:

[i]Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.[/i]

sklosky's picture

Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

Chinese general & military strategist (~400 BC)

pneuhardt's picture

"The most dangerous phrase in the language is 'We've always done it this way.' "

--- Grace Murray Hopper

ccleveland's picture

My favorite:

"Nothing is impossible;
there are ways that lead to everything,
and if we had sufficient will
we should always have sufficient means.
It is often merely for an excuse
that we say things are impossible."
-- François de la Rouchefouclauld

Greenest's picture

I like the:
[quote]"I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can't be done."
- Henry Ford [/quote]

I think he put it so much better than Donald Rumsfeld! [quote]"The message is that there are known knowns - there are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns - that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."[/quote]

cb_bob's picture

"I hated every moment of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.'" - Muhammad Ali

"He who isn't busy being born is busy dieing." - Bob Dylan

...and one that just made my list, courtesy of Mark: "Short words are best and the old words when short are best of all." - Sir Winston Churchill

aspiringceo's picture


I think he put it so much better than Donald Rumsfeld! [quote]"The message is that there are known knowns - there are things that we know that we know. There are known unknowns - that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns - there are things we do not know we don't know. And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."[/quote][/quote]

Whilst not being a great admirer of Mr. Rumsfeld, on that occasion he did at least express a complicated thought

bflynn's picture

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."
- Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)

trandell's picture

"The better you get, the better you better get." - David Allen

"Do well by doing good." - Benjamin Franklin

kklogic's picture

"Well behaved women rarely make history"
-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich ;)

pneuhardt's picture

Another one that hangs over my desk:

"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards."

-- Lewis Carroll, In "Through The Looking Glass"

terrih's picture

"You don't get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour." --Jim Rohn


williampollak's picture
Training Badge

"The adjective is the enemy of the noun." - Voltaire

"Fortune favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

"If you don't pay attention to the things that have your attention, you'll give them more attention than they deserve." - David Allen

"Mosquitos ruin the safari." - David Allen

"Never attribute to malice what could just as easily be attributed to ignorance." -????

"If builders built buildings the way programmers build software, the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization." -????

"...because knowledge rapidly deteriorates unless it is used constantly, maintaining within an organization an activity that is used only intermittently guarantees incompetence." -Peter Drucker

dmk1's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

If you don't question the assumptions, you may end up solving the wrong problem.

tbfee's picture

"All streams flow to the sea
Because it is lower than they are.
Humility gives it its power."
-- Lao-tzu

Lpaine's picture
Training Badge

I am reading The Starbucks Experience. I like the quote at the beginning of Principle 4.

Don't mind criticism. If it is untrue, disregard it; if unfair, keep from irritation;if it is ignorant, smile; if it is justified , it is not criticism -- learn from it. Author Unknown

tom.evans's picture
Training Badge

[b][i]The mind is not a vessel to be filled. It is a fire to be lighted.[/i][/b]

Mark's picture
Admin Role Badge




bflynn's picture

New one I saw - Eroom's Law: Every 18 months software requires twice the computing power to run.


terrih's picture

No sense being pessimistic. Wouldn't work anyway.

--Bumper sticker quoted in "Hard Optimism" by Price Pritchett

thaGUma's picture

"Doh!" Homer Simpson. How often has that one been most appropriate?

bpeters's picture

"Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing." --Theodore Roosevelt

bflynn's picture

And another: Be humble. A lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

Sounds like another way of saying "You're not that Smart, They're Not that Dumb."

attmonk's picture

I like this one, its attributed to various people at various times but I think its quite apt for a lot of folks:

"It's a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get"

dmbaldwin's picture

Here are two I use occasionally:

"Don't just stand there and bleed! Do something!"
-- Anonymous

"When new ideas come along our role is not to adopt them, but to adapt them."
-- Brian Boone

cowie165's picture

"It is better to ask a stupid question than make a stupid mistake."
Mark Raymond

lazerus's picture

"It is almost impossible to throw dirt on someone
without getting a little on yourself"
-Abigail van Buren

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people."
-Eleanor Roosevelt

cowie165's picture

On arguing with mud-slinging journalists:

"When you wrestle with a pig, he has fun, and you just end up dirty."
Colin Powell

Which is similar to "when you argue with an idiot, they just bring you down to their level and then beat you with experience". I can't remember who said that one.

mikehansen's picture

My favorite has always been :

"All evolution in thought and conduct must at first appear as heresy and misconduct.” - George Bernard Shaw

ponzoa's picture

- There is a happiness in madness that only a madman can know.

- It takes twice as long/the effort to explain something you did wrong/badly than it does to do it right the first time.


TomW's picture
Training Badge

Before you attempt to beat the odds, be sure you could survive the odds beating you

stephenbooth_uk's picture

I think my all time favourite has got to be one from the Biochemist and writer Issac Asimov: "The most powerful phrase in science is no 'Eureka', 'I have found it', it is 'That's weird?'"

For business I like Machiavelli when he wrote: "It is a foolish prince who entrusts the safety of his lands to hired men."


corinag's picture

Before I post my whole list of communication quotes (that I incidentally use in training) I wanted to share two powerful quotes from unlikely people:

"You miss 100% of the shots you never take" - Wayne Gretzky.
" You've got to bloom where you're planted" - Edie the Salsa Freak (she is an amazing lady who turned her life around at the age of 30, and achieved greatness in her field (salsa teaching) against impossible odds)

The "serious' quotes coming up later.

NTan's picture

Churchill's quotes are right up there in my list. However, my contribution this time is from Gandhi:

'First they will ignore you, then they will laugh at you, then they will fight you, then you will win."


cwatine's picture
Training Badge

Archimede : "Give me a place where I can stand and with a lever, I will move the world"

stephenbooth_uk's picture

I don't recall who originated this or even where I first heard it, but I do like it: "There are always three versions of the truth: My Truth; Your Truth; The Truth."

The point I think that it's making, certainly how I understand it, is that no two people will see the same thing the same way. Even something as apparently binary as true or false can in reality be analogue with a multitude of different interpretations/versions.


msetnicky's picture
Licensee Badge

Nothing is impossible, we just don't know how to do it yet.

-L. L. Larison Cudmore

terrih's picture

This is something a co-worker at a past job used to say:

"If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when do you have time to fix it?"

James Gutherson's picture

[quote="cedwat"]Archimede : "Give me a place where I can stand and with a lever, I will move the world"[/quote]

I know this as "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum strong enough and I will move the world"

cowie165's picture

[quote="terrih"]This is something a co-worker at a past job used to say:

"If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when do you have time to fix it?"[/quote]

Great quote Terri.

tcomeau's picture
Training Badge

"Don't be ridiculous sergeant. They can't possibly hit us at this."
- unknown officer, often attributed to a American Civil War General.

"It worked!"
- J. Robert Oppenhiemer, at the Trinity test.

"Contact light."
- Buzz Aldrin. (First words spoken from the Moon.)

"That's enough of you. Let me talk to Beavis."
- My brother, an Air Traffic Controller, to a particularly dense pilot.

"Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing."
- Werner von Braun

"For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong."
- H. L. Mencken

"Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly."
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama


vinnie2k's picture
andylaird25's picture


[i]We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender[/i]
[b]Winston Churchill 4 June 1940[/b]

[i]"There are two answers to that question. Yes and No"[/i]
[b]A Peer of mine to the M.D[/b]

[i]"Sometimes when you aim for the stars, you hit the moon."[/i]
[b]Plymouth Argyle's Manager Ian Holloway [/b]

[i]"We spend our lives on the run: we get up by the clock, eat and sleep by the clock, get up again, go to work - and then we retire. And what do they give us? A clock".[/i]
[b]Dave Allen (comedian)[/b]

[i]"What's the quickest way to become a millionaire? Borrow fivers off everyone you meet"[/i]
[b]Sir Richard Branson[/b]

tlhausmann's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of
comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and
- Martin Luther King

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You
need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God you will
receive what he has promised." Hebrews 10: 35,36

klee's picture

I found my favorite quote by accident one day here, and haven't been the same since: [url][/url]

[b]"I do the work for free. I get paid to be afraid."[/b]