Quotations about   effort

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There is always something pleasurable in the struggle and the victory. And if a man has no opportunity to excite himself, he will do what he can to create one, and according to his individual bent, he will hunt or play Cup and Ball: or led on by this unsuspected element in his nature, he will pick a quarrel with someone, or hatch a plot or intrigue, or take to swindling and rascally courses generally — all to put an end to a state of repose which is intolerable.

[Der Kampf mit ihnen und der Sieg beglückt. Fehlt ihm die Gelegenheit dazu, so macht er sie sich, wie er kann: je nachdem seine Individualität es mit sich bringt, wird er jagen, oder Bilboquet spielen, oder, vom unbewußten Zuge seiner Natur geleitet, Händel suchen, oder Intriguen anspinnen, oder sich auf Betrügereien und allerlei Schlechtigkeiten einlassen, um nur dem ihm unerträglichen Zustande der Ruhe ein Ende zu machen.]

Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) German philosopher
Parerga and Paralipomena, Vol. 1, “Aphorisms on the Wisdom of Life [Aphorismen zur Lebensweisheit],” “Counsels and Maxims [Paränesen und Maximen],” ch. B, § 17 (1851) [tr. Saunders (1890), 2.17]
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(Source (German)). Alternate translation:

The struggle with [obstacles] and the triumph make him happy. If he lacks the opportunity for this, he creates it as best he can; according to the nature of his individuality, he will hunt or play cup and ball; or, guided by the unconscious urge of his nature, he will pick a quarrel, hatch a plot, or be involved in fraud and all kinds of wickedness, merely in order to put an end to an intolerable state of repose.
[tr. Payne (1974)]

Added on 29-Jun-22 | Last updated 29-Jun-22
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Bad roads act as filters. They separate those who are sufficiently appreciative of what lies beyond the blacktop to be willing to undergo mild inconvenience from that much larger number of travelers which is not willing. The rougher the road, the finer the filter.

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970) American educator, writer, critic, naturalist
Baja California and the Geography of Hope, Introduction (1967)
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This was a thought that Krutch adapted and repeated in a number of writings.

In The Forgotten Peninsula, A Naturalist in Baja California, Prologue (1961), Krutch quotes an acquaintance as saying, regarding the peninsula's unspoiled beauty, "Baja is a splendid example of how much bad roads can do for a country." This quotation was often misattributed directly to him, and he adopted the sentiment.

Late in his life (Winter 1967-68), Krutch was interviewed by Edward Abbey for Sage magazine (reprinted in One Life at a Time, Please (1988)), and discussed the proposed development of the new Canyonlands National Park:

Too many people use their automobiles not as a means to get to the parks but rather use the parks as a place to take their automobiles. What our national parks need are not more good roads but more bad roads. [...] There’s nothing like a good bad dirt road to screen out the faintly interested and to invite in the genuinely interested.

Added on 14-Jun-22 | Last updated 14-Jun-22
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The man who has done his level best, and who is conscious that he has done his best, is a success.

Bertie Charles (B. C.) Forbes (1880-1954) American publisher
Forbes Epigrams (1922)
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Consequently, happiness is not found in amusement, for it would be also absurd to maintain that the end of man is amusement and that men work and suffer all their life for the sake of amusement. For, in short, we choose everything for the sake of something else, except happiness, since happiness is the end of a man. So to be serious and work hard for the sake of amusement appears foolish and very childish, but to amuse oneself for the sake of serious work seems, as Anacharsis put it, to be right; for amusement is like relaxation, and we need relaxation since we cannot keep on working hard continuously. Thus amusement is not the end, for it is chosen for the sake of serious activity.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics [Ἠθικὰ Νικομάχεια], Book 10, ch. 6, sec. 6 (10.6.6) / 1176b.28ff (c. 325 BC) [tr. Apostle (1975)]
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(Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Happiness then stands not in amusement; in fact the very notion is absurd of the End being amusement, and of one’s toiling and enduring hardness all one’s life long with a view to amusement: for everything in the world, so to speak, we choose with some further End in view, except Happiness, for that is the End comprehending all others. Now to take pains and to labour with a view to amusement is plainly foolish and very childish: but to amuse one’s self with a view to steady employment afterwards, as Anacharsis says, is thought to be right: for amusement is like rest, and men want rest because unable to labour continuously. Rest, therefore, is not an End, because it is adopted with a view to Working afterwards.
[tr. Chase (1847), ch. 5]

And, hence it follows, that happiness does not consist in mere amusement. For, it is inconceivable that amusement should be the end and consummation of everything, and that a man should endure a lifetime of labour and suffering, with nothing higher than amusement in view. And this would be the case, were happiness identical with mere amusement. For there is, indeed, nothing whatever upon earth which we do not choose for the sake of something else beyond itself, with the one exception of happiness -- happiness being the one end of all things els. Now, that all earnestness and toil should tend to no higher end than mere amusement, is a view of life which is worse than childish, and fit only for a fool. But the saying of Anacharsis, "play makes us fit for work," would seem to be well spoken; for it would seem that amusement is a species of rest, and that men stand in need of rest, inasmuch as continuous exertion is not possible. And, hence, rest cannot be an end in itself, inasmuch as it is only sought with view to subsequent action.
[tr. Williams (1869)]

Happiness then does not consist in amusement. It would be paradoxical to hold that the end of human life is amusement, and that we should toil and suffer all our life for the sake of amusing ourselves. For we may be said to desire all things as means to something else except indeed happiness, as happiness is the end or perfect state. It appears to be foolish and utterly childish to take serious trouble and pains for the sake of amusement. But to amuse oneself with a view to being serious seems to be right, as Anacharsis says; for amusement is a kind of relaxation, and it is because we cannot work for ever that we need relaxation. Relaxation then is not an end. We enjoy it as a means to activity.
[tr. Welldon (1892)]

Happiness, therefore, does not consist in amusement; and indeed it is absurd to suppose that the end is amusement, and that we toil and moil all our life long for the sake of amusing ourselves. We may say that we choose everything for the sake of something else, excepting only happiness; for it is the end. But to be serious and to labour for the sake of amusement seems silly and utterly childish; while to amuse ourselves in order that we may be serious, as Anacharsis says, seems to be right; for amusement is a sort of recreation, and we need recreation because we are unable to work continuously. Recreation, then, cannot be the end; for it is taken as a means to the exercise of our faculties.
[tr. Peters (1893), 10.6.6]

Happiness, therefore, does not lie in amusement; it would, indeed, be strange if the end were amusement, and one were to take trouble and suffer hardship all one's life in order to amuse oneself. For, in a word, everything that we choose we choose for the sake of something else -- except happiness, which is an end. Now to exert oneself and work for the sake of amusement seems silly and utterly childish. But to amuse oneself in order that one may exert oneself, as Anacharsis puts it, seems right; for amusement is a sort of relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot work continuously. Relaxation, then, is not an end; for it is taken for the sake of activity.
[tr. Ross (1908)]

It follows therefore that happiness is not to be found in amusements. Indeed it would be strange that amusement should be our End -- that we should toil and moil all our life long in order that we may amuse ourselves. For virtually every object we adopt is pursued as a means to something else, excepting happiness, which is an end in itself; to make amusement the object of our serious pursuits and our work seems foolish and childish to excess: Anacharsis' motto, Play in order that you may work, is felt to be the right rule. For amusement is a form of rest; but we need rest because we are not able to go on working without a break, and therefore it is not an end, since we take it as a means to further activity.
[tr. Rackham (1934)]

Hence happiness does not lie in amusement, since it would indeed be strange if the end were amusement and we did all the work we do and suffered evil all our live for the sake of amusing ourselves. For, in a word, we choose everything -- except happiness, since end it is -- for the sake of something else. But to engage in serious matters and to labor for the sake of amusement would evidently be silly and utterly childish. On the contrary, "amusing ourselves so as to engage in serious matters," as Anacharsis puts it, seems to be correct. For amusement is like relaxation, and it is because people cannot labor continuously that they need relaxation. End, then, relaxation is not, since it occurs for the sake of activity.
[tr. Reeve (1948)]

It follows that happiness does not consist in amusement. Indeed, it would be paradoxical if the end were amusement; if we toiled and suffered all our lives long to amuse ourselves. For we choose practically everything for the sake of something else, except happiness, because it is the end. To spend effort and toil for the sake of amusement seems silly and unduly childish; but on the other hand the maxim of Anacharsis, "Play to work harder," seems to be on the right lines, because amusement is a form of relaxation, and people need relaxation because they cannot exert themselves continuously. Therefore relaxation is not an end, because it is taken for the sake of activity.
[tr. Thomson/Tredennick (1976)]

Happiness, then, is not found in amusement, for it would be absurd if the end were amusement, and our lifelong efforts and sufferings aimed at amusing ourselves. For we choose practically everything for some other end -- except for happiness, since it is the end; but serious work and toil amed only at amusement appears stupid and excessively childish. Rather, it seems correct to amuse ourselves so that we can do something serous, as Anacharsis says; for amusement would seem to be relaxation, and it is because we cannot toil continuously that we require relaxation. Relaxation, then, is not the end, since we pursue it to prepare for activity.
[tr. Irwin/Fine (1995)]

Happiness, then, does not consist in amusement, because it would be absurd if our end were amusement, and we laboured and suffered all of our lives for the sake of amusing ourselves. For we choose virtually everything for the sake of something else, except happiness, since it is the end; but serious work and exertion for the sake of amusement is manifestly foolish and extremely childish. Rather, as Anacharsis puts it, what seems correct is amusing ourselves so that we can engage in some serious work, since amusement is like relaxation, and we need relaxation because we cannot continuously exert ourselves. Relaxation, then, is not an end, since it occurs for the sake of activity.
[tr. Crisp (2000)]

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We’d all like a reputation for generosity, and we’d all like to buy it cheap.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 9 (1963)
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The encyclopedia is the only place in the world where World Domination comes before Work!

— The last words of Joaquin the Illiterate, just before he hit that big red button labeled Do Not Touch

Phil Foglio (b. 1956) American writer, cartoonist
Agatha H. and the Siege of Mechanicsburg (2020), ch. 3, Epigraph [with Kaja Foglio]
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At least there are more forms of escapism than those who bandy that word about are always aware of. An artist, for instance, may escape from the problems of his art — which are hard to solve — into a consideration of the problems of society which he sometimes seems to think require of him only that he complain about them. Even the ordinary citizen is not always guiltless of similar techniques and it is, for example, sometimes easier to head an institute for the study of child guidance than it is to turn one brat into a decent human being.

Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1970) American educator, writer, critic, naturalist
“Whom Do We Picket Tonight?” Harper’s (Mar 1950)
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Reprinted in If You Don't Mind My Saying (1964).
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A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944) French writer, aviator
(Spurious)

The earliest version of this quote is found as an anonymous proverb in Joan Horbiak, 50 Ways to Lose Ten Pounds (1995). The earliest association with Saint-Exupéry dates to around 2007. It's sometimes further pinned down to The Little Prince (1943); it does not appear there, but that's Saint-Exupéry's best-known book.
Added on 22-Oct-21 | Last updated 22-Oct-21
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The way you win as a creative person is to learn to love the work and not the applause.

Bob Dylan (b. 1941) American singer, songwriter
(Misattributed)

Attributed to Dylan, but it actually appears to be from an article by Brian Herzog, "Don't Write for Applause" (28 May 2015), which touched on Dylan.
Added on 20-Jul-21 | Last updated 20-Jul-21
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The selfish man believes that by closing his heart against his fellows, and centering in self every thought and feeling, he escapes much suffering. But his egotistical calculations are invariably defeated; for his contracted sympathies being all directed to one focus, he so aggravates the ills he endures, that he expends on self along more painful pity than the most enthusiastic philanthropist devotes to mankind.

Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington (1789-1849) Irish novelist [Lady Blessington, b. Margaret Power]
Desultory Thoughts and Reflections (1839)
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If fate means you to lose, give him a good fight anyhow.

William McFee (1881-1966) English writer
Casuals of the Sea, Book 2, ch. 2 (1916)
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We pay for security with boredom, for adventure with bother.

Peter De Vries (1910-1993) American editor, novelist, satirist
Comfort Me With Apples (1956)
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I believe that no endeavor that is worthwhile is simple in prospect; if it is right, it will be simple in retrospect.

Edward Teller (1908-2003) Hungarian-American theoretical physicist
Quoted by Judith Shoolery, personal communication (2004)
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Quoted in István Hargittai, The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century (2006).
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Don’t get discouraged because there’s a lot of mechanical work to writing. There is, and you can’t get out of it. I rewrote the first part of A Farewell to Arms at least fifty times. You’ve got to work it over. The first draft of anything is shit.

Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961) American writer
(Attributed)

A comment from Hemingway to Arnold Samuelson in 1934, as retold in Samuelson, With Hemingway: A Year in Key West and Cuba (1984). More discussion here and here.
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Sometimes, carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
The Fall [La Chute] (1956)
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CHARLIE ANDERSON: I wanna say somethin’. I’ve known since the train that we weren’t liable to find him. It was just a hair of a chance that we got Sam back. I knew that. Maybe I knew even before we left home, but somehow I just had to try! And if we don’t try, we don’t do. And if we don’t do, why are we here on this earth?

James Lee Barrett (1929-1989) American author, producer, screenwriter
Shenandoah (1965)
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I give it as my firmest conviction that service to a just cause rewards the worker with more real happiness and satisfaction than any other venture of life.

Carrie Chapman Catt (1859-1947) American women's suffrage activist
“The Making of A Pioneer Suffragette,” in The American Scrap Book (1928)
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If hard work is not another name for talent, it is the best possible substitute for it.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“College Education,” Speech, Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (Jun 1867)
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The worst days of darkness through which I have ever passed have been greatly alleviated by throwing myself with all my energy into some work relating to others.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
Letter to B. A. Hinsdale (30 Apr 1874)
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Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Wealth,” The Conduct of Life, ch. 3 (1860)
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I hate writing. I love having written.

Dorothy Parker (1893-1967) American writer
(Spurious)

Not found in any of Parker's works, and not attributed to her until several years after her death. The earliest rendition of a thought like this ("Don't like to write, but like having written") comes from novelist Frank Norris in a posthumous letter published in "The Bellman's Book Plate: The Writing Grind," The Bellman (4 Dec 1915).

More discussion here: Don’t Like to Write, But Like Having Written – Quote Investigator.

See also Pratchett.
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I’m not interested in writing short stories. Anything that doesn’t take years of your life and drive you to suicide hardly seems worth doing.

Cormac McCarthy (b. 1933) American novelist, playwright, screenwriter
“Hollywood’s Favorite Cowboy,” interview with John Jurgensen, The Wall Street Journal (20 Nov 2009)
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I’m working at trying to be a good Christian, and that’s serious business. It’s like trying to be a good Jew, a good Muslim, a good Buddhist, a good Shintoist, a good Zoroastrian, a good friend, a good lover, a good mother, a good buddy — it’s serious business. It’s not something where you think, Oh, I’ve got it done. I did it all day, hotdiggety. The truth is, all day long you try to do it, try to be it, and then in the evening if you’re honest and have a little courage you look at yourself and say, Hmm. I only blew it eighty-six times. Not bad.

Maya Angelou (1928-2014) American poet, memoirist, activist [b. Marguerite Ann Johnson]
“The Art of Fiction,” Paris Review, #116, Interview with George Plimpton (1990)
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Divide the work and thus you’ll shorten it.

[Divisum sic breve fiet opus.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 4, epigram 82 (4.82)
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As quoted in Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906); mislabeled as Epigram 83. Alt. trans.:
  • "If it be too much to read two volumes, let them roll up one of them; and the task, thus divided, will seem shorter." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
  • "If two be too much, double one parcel down; / So half, perhaps, better the pleasure will crown." [tr. Elphinston]
  • "If it is too much to read two, let one book be rolled up: divided the work will thus become brief. [Si nimis est legisse duos, tibi charta plicetur / Altera: divisum sic breve fiet opus.]"  [tr. Ker (1919), Ep. 210]
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When I go into my garden with a spade and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health, that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“Man the Reformer,” lecture, Boston (25 Jan 1841)
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Disgraceful ’tis to treat small things as difficult;
‘Tis silly to waste time on foolish trifles.

[Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
Et stultus labor est ineptiarum.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 86 (2.86)
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As quoted in the Thomas Benfield Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (Classical) (1906). Alt. trans.: "It is absurd to make one's amusements difficult; and labor expended on follies is childish." [tr. Bohn (1871)]
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No labor, however humble, is dishonoring.

The Talmud (AD 200-500) Collection of Jewish rabbinical writings
Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 49b

Alt. trans.: "Great is labor, for it honors the worker." [tr. Freedman] Alt. trans.: "Labor is great, as it brings honor to the laborer who performs it."
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A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering cold iron.

Horace Mann (1796-1859) American educator
(Attributed)

Quoted in The Eclectic Magazine, Vol. 8 (Jan-Jun 1868), and in The Myrtle, Vol. 24, #40 (30 Jan 1875)
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Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson, ch. 6, Epigraph “Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar” (1894)
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Worrying is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength — carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.

Corrie ten Boom (1892-1983) Dutch evangelist, concentration camp survivor
He Cares, He Comforts (1977)
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See Spurgeon.
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Coming up with ideas is the easiest thing on earth. Putting them down is the hardest.

Rod Serling (1924-1975) American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, narrator
“Writing for Television – Conversations with Rod Serling,” Ithaca College (1972)
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If your writing doesn’t keep you up at night, it won’t keep anyone else up either.

cain-writing-keep-you-up-at-night-wist_info-quote

James M. Cain (1892-1977) American author and journalist
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Nov-16 | Last updated 1-Nov-16
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It is an unhappy truth that racism is a way of life for the vast majority of white Americans, spoken and unspoken, acknowledged and denied, subtle and sometimes not so subtle — the disease of racism permeates and poisons a whole body politic. And I can see nothing more urgent than for America to work passionately and unrelentingly — to get rid of the disease of racism. Somewhere we must come to see that human progress never rolls in on the wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and the persistent work of dedicated individuals who are willing to be co-workers with God. And without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the primitive forces of social stagnation.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution,” sermon, National Cathedral, Washington, DC (31 Mar 1968)
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Posterity! You will never know, how much it cost the present Generation, to preserve your Freedom! I hope you will make a good Use of it. If you do not, I shall repent in Heaven, that I ever took half the Pains to preserve it.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Abigail Adams (26 Apr 1777)
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The virtues, like the body, become strong more by labor than by nourishment.

Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825) German novelist, art historian, aesthetician [Johann Paul Friedrich Richter; pseud. Jean Paul]
(Attributed)

Quoted in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895).
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The only route to success is hard work. If you didn’t work hard I don’t think it counts as success.

Ricky Gervais (b. 1961) English comedian, actor, director, writer
Twitter (27 Nov 2012)
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You know, if you’re an American and you’re born at this time in history especially, you’re lucky. We all are. We won the world history Powerball lottery, but a little modesty about it might keep the heat off of us. I can’t stand the people who say things like, “We built this country!” You built nothing. I think the railroads were pretty much up by 1980.

William "Bill" Maher (b. 1956) American comedian, political commentator, critic, television host.
Victory Begins at Home (20 Jan 2004)
Added on 4-May-16 | Last updated 4-May-16
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Phileas Fogg had won his wager, and had made his journey around the world in eighty days. To do this he had employed every means of conveyance — steamers, railways, carriages, yachts, trading-vessels, sledges, elephants. The eccentric gentleman had throughout displayed all his marvellous qualities of coolness and exactitude. But what then? What had he really gained by all this trouble? What had he brought back from this long and weary journey?

Nothing, say you? Perhaps so; nothing but a charming woman, who, strange as it may appear, made him the happiest of men!

Truly, would you not for less than that make the tour around the world?

[Phileas Fogg avait gagné son pari. Il avait accompli en quatre-vingts jours ce voyage autour du monde! Il avait employé pour ce faire tous les moyens de transport, paquebots, railways, voitures, yachts, bâtiments de commerce, traîneaux, éléphant. L’excentrique gentleman avait déployé dans cette affaire ses merveilleuses qualités de sang-froid et d’exactitude. Mais après ? Qu’avait-il gagné à ce déplacement? Qu’avait-il rapporté de ce voyage?

Rien, dira-t-on? Rien, soit, si ce n’est une charmante femme, qui — quelque invraisemblable que cela puisse paraître — le rendit le plus heureux des hommes!

En vérité, ne ferait-on pas, pour moins que cela, le Tour du Monde?]

Jules Verne (1828-1905) French novelist, poet, playwright
Around the World in Eighty Days, ch. 37 (1873)
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No victor believes in chance.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) German philosopher and poet
The Gay Science [Die fröhliche Wissenschaft], Book 3 (1882)
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I have said time and again there is no place on this earth to which I would not travel, there is no chore I would not undertake if I had any faintest hope that, by so doing, I would promote the general cause of world peace.

Dwight David Eisenhower (1890-1969) American general, US President (1953-61)
News Conference (23 Mar 1955)
Added on 9-Feb-16 | Last updated 9-Feb-16
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The way’s not easy where the prize is great:
I hope no virtues, where I smell no sweat.

Quarles - smell no sweat - wist_info quote

Francis Quarles (1592-1644) English poet
Emblems, Emblem 11, Epigram (1634)
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Often given, "I see no virtue where I smell no sweat."
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A religious life is a struggle and not a hymn.

Germaine de Staël (1766-1817) Swiss-French writer, woman of letters, critic, salonist [Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein, Madame de Staël, Madame Necker]
Corinne, Book 10, ch. 5 (1807)
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Only evil grows of itself, while for goodness we want effort and courage.

Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821-1881) Swiss philosopher, poet, critic
Journal (16 Nov 1864) [tr. Ward (1887)]
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Everyone thinks his sack heaviest.

George Herbert (1593-1633) Welsh priest, orator, poet.
Outlandish Proverbs, #748 (1640)
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The high sentiments always win in the end, the leaders who offer blood, toil, tears, and sweat always get more out of their followers than those who offer safety and a good time. When it comes to the pinch, human beings are heroic.

George Orwell (1903-1950) English writer [pseud. of Eric Arthur Blair]
“The Art of Donald McGill” (Sep 1941)
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See Churchill.
Added on 16-Oct-15 | Last updated 9-Dec-21
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Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.

Earl Nightingale (1921-1989) American motivational speaker, writer, radio personality
(Attributed)
Added on 26-Aug-15 | Last updated 26-Aug-15
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Many strokes fell tall Oaks.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine (1639)
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Rome was not built in a day.

John Clarke (d. 1658) British educator
Proverbs: English and Latine (1639)
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I am very sure that any man of common understanding may, by proper culture, care, attention and labor, make himself whatever he pleases, except a great poet.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (9 Oct 1746)
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We are challenged on every hand to work untiringly to achieve excellence in our lifework. Not all men are called to specialized or professional jobs; even fewer rise to the heights of genius in the arts and sciences; many are called to be laborers in factories, fields and streets. But no work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts should be undertaken with painstaking excellence. If a man is called to be a street sweeper he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
Sermon, New Covenant Baptist Church, Chicago (9 Apr 1967)
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There is always some kid who may be seeing me for the first or last time. I owe him my best.

Joe DiMaggio (1914-1999) American baseball player [b. Giuseppe Paolo DiMaggio, nicknamed "Joltin' Joe" and "The Yankee Clipper"]
The Sporting News (4 Apr 1951)

When asked why he hustled on even a play that wouldn't affect the outcome of the game or his team's standing.
Added on 17-Feb-15 | Last updated 17-Feb-15
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I had applied for the nuclear submarine program, and Admiral Rickover was interviewing me for the job. It was the first time I met Admiral Rickover, and we sat in a large room by ourselves for more than two hours, and he let me choose any subjects I wished to discuss. Very carefully, I chose those about which I knew most at the time, current events, seamanship, music, literature, naval tactics, electronics, gunnery and he began to ask me a series of questions of increasing difficulty. In each instance, he soon proved that I knew relatively little about the subject I had chosen.

He always looked right into my eyes, and he never smiled. I was saturated with cold sweat.

Finally, he asked a question and I thought I could redeem myself. He said, “How did you stand in your class at the Naval Academy?” Since I had completed my sophomore year at Georgia Tech before entering Annapolis as a plebe, I had done very well, and I swelled my chest with pride and answered, “Sir, I stood fifty-ninth in a class of 820!”

I sat back to wait for the congratulations, which never came. Instead, the question: “Did you do your best?” I started to say, “Yes, sir,” but I remembered who this was and recalled several of the many times at the Academy when I could have learned more about our allies, our enemies, weapons, strategy, and so forth. I was just human. I finally gulped and said, “No, sir, I didn’t always do my best.”

He looked at me for a long time, and then turned his chair around to end the interview. He asked one final question, which I have never been able to forget or to answer. He said, “Why not?”

I sat there for a while, shaken, and then slowly left the room.

Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) American politician, US President (1977-1981), Nobel laureate [James Earl Carter, Jr.]
Why Not The Best? (1975)
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Only mediocrity can be trusted to be always at its best. Genius must always have lapses proportionate to its triumphs.

Max Beerbohm (1872-1956) English parodist, caricaturist, wit, writer [Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm]
Obituary of Dan Leno, Saturday Review (5 Nov 1904)
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Added on 27-Jan-15 | Last updated 27-Jan-15
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When we watch a child trying to walk, we see its countless failures; its success are but few. If we had to limit our observation within a narrow space of time, the sight would be cruel. But we find that in spite of its repeated failures, there is an impetus of joy in the child which sustains it in its seemingly impossible task. We see it does not think of its falls so much as of its power to keep its balance though for only a moment.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Bengali poet, philosopher [a.k.a. Rabi Thakur, Kabiguru]
Sadhana: The Realization of Life, ch. 3 (1913)
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Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
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Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.

Albert Camus (1913-1960) Algerian-French novelist, essayist, playwright
Notebooks: 1942-1951, Notebook 4, Jan 1942 – Sep 1945 [tr. O’Brien/Thody (1963)
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Cited as "B.B."
Added on 12-Jan-15 | Last updated 16-May-22
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