Quotations about   confidence

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At sixteen I was stupid, confused and indecisive. At twenty-five I was wise, self-confident, prepossessing, and assertive. At forty-five I am stupid, confused, insecure, and indecisive. Who would have supposed that maturity is only a short break in adolescence?

Jules Feiffer (b. 1929) American cartoonist, authork, satirist
Cartoon, The Observer (3 Feb 1974)
Added on 14-Oct-19 | Last updated 14-Oct-19
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Well, with one martini ah feel bigger, wiser, taller, and with two it goes to the superlative, and ah feel biggest, wisest, tallest, and with three there ain’t no holdin’ me.

William Faulkner (1897-1962) American novelist
(Attributed)
    (Source)

As quoted in Lauren Bacall, By Myself (1978). Often paraphrased or rendered back into standard English, e.g., "When I have one martini, I feel bigger, wiser, taller. When I have a second, I feel superlative. When I have more, there's no holding me."
Added on 3-Nov-17 | Last updated 3-Nov-17
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No man is defeated without until he has first been defeated within.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn by Living, ch. 10 (1960)
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Added on 30-Oct-17 | Last updated 30-Oct-17
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I’m convinced if I keep going one day I will write something decent. On very bad days I will observe that I must have written good things in the past, which means that I’ve lost it. But normally I just assume that I don’t have it. The gulf between the thing I set out to make in my head and the sad, lumpy thing that emerges into reality is huge and distant and I just wish that I could get them closer.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“This Much I Know,” The Guardian (5 Aug 2017)
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Added on 2-Oct-17 | Last updated 2-Oct-17
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Philosophy had supplied Socrates with convictions in which he had been able to have rational, as opposed to hysterical, confidence when faced with disapproval.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Consolations of Philosophy, ch. 1 “Consolations for Unpopularity” (2000)
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Added on 24-Aug-17 | Last updated 24-Aug-17
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If you are threatened or offended by people disagreeing, challenging or even ridiculing your faith, your faith can’t be that strong.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (23 Sep 2012)
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Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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Mahomet made the people believe that he would call a hill to him, and from the top of it offer up his prayers for the observers of his law. The people assembled. Mahomet called the hill to come to him, again and again; and when the hill stood still he was never a whit abashed, but said, “If the hill will not come to Mahomet, Mahomet will go to the hill.”

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
Essays, “Of Boldness” (1625)
Added on 25-Aug-16 | Last updated 25-Aug-16
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There are few mortals so insensible that their affections cannot be gained by mildness; their confidence by sincerity; their hatred by scorn or neglect.

Johann Georg Zimmermann (1728-1795) Swiss philosophical writer, naturalist, physician
Aphorisms and Reflections on Men, Morals and Things (1800)
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Added on 17-Aug-16 | Last updated 17-Aug-16
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Confidence doesn’t come from knowing you’re right — it comes from being okay with failing.

Other Authors and Sources
Mike Monteiro, Design Is a Job (2012)
Added on 12-May-16 | Last updated 12-May-16
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If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win.

Lewis - confidence - wist_info quote

Carl Lewis (b. 1961) American Olympic athlete
(Attributed)
Added on 16-Dec-15 | Last updated 16-Dec-15
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It’s hard to lead a cavalry charge if you think you look funny on a horse.

Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) American diplomat, statesman
(Attributed)
Added on 4-Dec-15 | Last updated 4-Dec-15
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If ever there’s a tomorrow where we’re not together, there is something you must remember. You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.

A. A. Milne (1882-1956) English poet and playwright [Alan Alexander Milne]
(Misattributed)
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Christopher Robin to Pooh Bear. The quotation is broadly attributed to Milne and Winnie the Pooh, but is actually from the 1997 Disney video Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin, written by Carter Crocker and Karl Geurs, based on the characters created by Milne.
Added on 14-Aug-15 | Last updated 14-Aug-15
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If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting, too ….

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) English writer
“If–” st. 1 (1910)
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Added on 16-Mar-15 | Last updated 3-Jul-17
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BENDIS: We’re gonna die.
MAL: We’re not gonna die. We can’t die, Bendis. You know why? Because we are so — very — pretty. We are just too pretty for God to let us die.

Joss Whedon (b. 1964) American screenwriter, author, producer [Joseph Hill Whedon]
Firefly, 1×01 “Serenity” (pilot) (20 Dec 2002)
Added on 29-Jan-15 | Last updated 29-Jan-15
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Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn By Living (1960)

An earlier version of this (the first sentence, at least) was included in a letter to Joseph Lash (13 Feb 1946).
Added on 7-Jan-15 | Last updated 2-Apr-15
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In love, in war, in conversation, in business, confidence and resolution are the principal things.

William Hazlitt (1778-1830) English writer
Table Talk, “On the Qualifications Necessary to Success in Life” (1822)
Added on 26-Dec-14 | Last updated 26-Dec-14
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Self-trust is the first secret of success.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Success,” Society and Solitude (1870)
Added on 12-Dec-14 | Last updated 12-Dec-14
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The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
In “Ten Rules for Writing Fiction,” The Guardian (20 Feb 2010)
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Added on 21-Aug-14 | Last updated 21-Aug-14
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We [Americans] cheerfully assume that in some mystic way love conquers all, that good outweighs evil in the just balances of the universe and that at the eleventh hour something gloriously triumphant will prevent the worst before it happens.

Brooks Atkinson (1894-1984) American drama critic and journalist
Once Around the Sun, “January” (1951)
Added on 12-Feb-14 | Last updated 12-Feb-14
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Towering is the confidence of twenty-one.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (9 Jan 1758)

In James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)
Added on 26-Jul-13 | Last updated 31-May-16
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With whom does the greatest danger for the whole human future lie? Is it not with the good and just? — with those who say and feel in their hearts: “We already know what is good and just, we possess it, too; woe to those who are still searching for it!”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
Thus Spoke Zarathustra [Also sprach Zarathustra], “Of Old and New Law-Tables” (26) (1883-85) [tr. Hollingdale (1961)]
Added on 10-Nov-11 | Last updated 3-Oct-14
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I have always been fond of the West African proverb “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”

Roosevelt - big stick - wist_info quote

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Letter to Henry L. Sprague (26 Jan 1900)

Full text. This is the first known use by Roosevelt of his future catch phrase.  It attained more fame when he used it in a speech at the Minnesota State Fair (2 Sep 1901) (there are transcript variants):

  • "There is a homely adage which runs 'Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.' If the American nation will speak softly and yet build and keep at a pitch of highest training a thoroughly efficient Navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far."
  • "Right here let me make as vigorous a plea as I know how in favor of saying nothing that we do not mean, and of acting without hesitation up to whatever we say. A good many of you are probably acquainted with the old proverb, 'Speak softly and carry a big stick — you will go far.' If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble, and neither will speaking softly avail, if back of the softness there does not lie strength, power. In private life there are few beings more obnoxious than the man who is always loudly boasting, and if the boaster is not prepared to back up his words, his position becomes absolutely contemptible. So it is with the nation. It is both foolish and undignified to indulge in undue self-glorification, and, above all, in loose-tongued denunciation of other peoples. Whenever on any point we come in contact with a foreign power, I hope that we shall always strive to speak courteously and respectfully of that foreign power."
Added on 2-Nov-11 | Last updated 12-Jan-16
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Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Lives of the English Poets, “Pope” (1781)
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Added on 1-Apr-09 | Last updated 1-Aug-14
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It is not so much our friends’ help that helps us as the confidence of their help.

Epicurus (341-270 BC) Greek philosopher
The Vatican Sayings

Alt. trans.: "It is not so much our friends' help that helps us as the confident knowledge that they will help us."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jan-19
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The fundamental cause of the trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Russell - stupid cocksure - wist_info

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) English mathematician and philosopher
“The Triumph of Stupidity” (10 May 1933)

Often paraphrased, "The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure, and the intelligent are full of doubt."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 18-Nov-15
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The encouraging thing is that every time you meet a situation, though you may think at the time it is an impossibility and you go through the tortures of the damned, once you have met it and lived through it you find that forever after you are freer than you ever were before. If you can live through that you can live through anything. You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, “I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.” The danger lies in refusing to face the fear, in not daring to come to grips with it. If you fail anywhere along the line it will take away your confidence. You must make yourself succeed every time. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn by Living, “Fear — the Great Enemy” (1960)

This is the likely source for the misattribution of this Mary Schmich quotation to Roosevelt.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 8-Apr-15
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