Quotations about   mistakes

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If you live long enough, you’ll make mistakes. But if you learn from them, you’ll be a better person. It’s how you handle adversity, not how it affects you. The main thing is never quit, never quit, never quit.

William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton (b. 1946) American politician, US President (1993-2001)
Speech to students during the 1992 US Presidential campaign
Added on 2-Jun-16 | Last updated 2-Jun-16
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People in general will much better bear being told of their vices or crimes than of their little failings or weaknesses.

Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) English statesman, wit [Philip Dormer Stanhope]
Letter to his son (26 Nov 1749)
Added on 16-Mar-15 | Last updated 16-Mar-15
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There are but two ways of rising in the world: either by your own industry or by the folly of others.

Jean de La Bruyère (1645-1696) French essayist, moralist
“Of the Gifts of Fortune” (52). The Characters [Les Caractères] (1688) [tr van Laun (1929)]
Added on 4-Nov-14 | Last updated 14-Jan-16
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Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.

Robert Conquest (b. 1917) Anglo-American historian, diplomat, poet
“Conquest’s Second Law”

Attributed in Kingsley Amis, Memoirs (1991). Also known as "Conquest's Law of Organizations."


  • "Every organisation behaves as if it is run by secret agents of its opponents."
  • "The behavior of any organization can best be predicted on the assumption that it is headed by a secret cabal of its enemies."
Added on 13-Aug-14 | Last updated 13-Aug-14
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Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

Scott Adams (b. 1957) American cartoonist
The Dilbert Principle (1996)

Sometimes misquoted as "Design is knowing which ones to keep." Sometimes misattributed to Douglas Adams or Ricky Gervais. More information here.
Added on 24-Feb-14 | Last updated 26-Oct-14
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That was excellently observed, say I, when I read a passage in an author, where his opinion agrees with mine. When we differ, there I pronounce him to be mistaken.

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1706)
Added on 17-Feb-10 | Last updated 6-Feb-15
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But, on the other hand, Uncle Abner said that the person that had took a bull by the tail once had learnt sixty or seventy times as much as a person that hadn’t, and said a person that started in to carry a cat home by the tail was gitting knowledge that was always going to be useful to him, and warn’t ever going to grow dim or doubtful.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Tom Sawyer Abroad (1894)

Full text.

Variants sometimes seen:

  • The man who sets out to carry a cat by its tail learns something that will always be useful and which never will grow dim or doubtful.
  • A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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