Quotations about   initiative

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In case signals can neither be seen nor perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of an enemy.

Horatio Nelson (1758-1805) British admiral
Memorandum before the Battle of Trafalgar (9 Oct 1805)
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Added on 2-Feb-19 | Last updated 2-Feb-19
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Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) German Lutheran pastor, theologian, martyr
Letter to Renate and Eberhard Bethge (1944)
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Alt. trans.: "It is not the thought but readiness to take responsibility that is the mainspring of action."
Added on 21-Aug-17 | Last updated 21-Aug-17
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You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men’s initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

William J. H. Boetcker (1873-1962) German-American religious leader, author, public speaker [William John Henry Boetcker]
“The Industrial Decalogue” (1916)

Often referred to as "The Ten Cannots," and also often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln.
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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To do just the opposite is also a form of imitation.

Georg C. Lichtenberg (1742-1799) German physicist, writer
Aphorisms (1775-79) [tr. Mautner and Hatfield]
Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 30-May-17
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A person who has not done one half his day’s work by ten o’clock runs a chance of leaving the other half undone.

Emily Brontë (1818-1848) British novelist, poet [pseud. Ellis Bell]
Wuthering Heights, ch. 7 (1847) [Nelly]
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Added on 15-Dec-16 | Last updated 15-Dec-16
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I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

Douglass - prayed with my legs - wist_info quote

Frederick Douglass (1817-1895) American abolitionist, orator, writer
(Attributed)

Mentioned frequently as being part of his earlier speeches, but unsourced. Also found as "failed to see the slightest scintillation of an answer until I prayed with my legs."
Added on 7-Mar-16 | Last updated 7-Mar-16
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Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?
Yes: work never begun.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) English poet
(Attributed)
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Added on 5-Jun-15 | Last updated 5-Jun-15
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I’ve always been in the right place at the right time. Of course, I steered myself there.

Bob Hope (1903-2003) American comedian, actor, humanitarian (b. Leslie Townes Hope)
In Merla Zellerbach, “Revealing Secrets of Their Success,” San Francisco Chronicle (11 Jul 1979)
Added on 23-Jan-15 | Last updated 23-Jan-15
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A tower of nine storeys begins with a heap of earth.
The journey of a thousand li starts from where one stands.

Lao-tzu (604?-531? BC) Chinese philosopher, poet [also Lao-tse, Laozi]
Tao-te Ching ch. 64 [tr. Wing-Tsit Chan]

Popularized in the west by John F. Kennedy, "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step," announcing the atmospheric nuclear test ban treaty (26 Jul 1963).
Added on 19-Jan-15 | Last updated 6-Apr-17
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I was too weak to defend, so I attacked.

Robert E. Lee (1807-1870) American military leader
(Attributed)

On his strategy at the Battle of Chancellorsville (1863).
Added on 25-Sep-14 | Last updated 25-Sep-14
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The man who can make up his mind quick, makes up other people’s minds for them. Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clear and straight and lays bare the fat and the lean; indecision is a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it.

George Horace Lorimer (1867-1937) American journalist, author, magazine editor
Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son (1901)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 15-Oct-15
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