Quotations about   persistence

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Do not get lost in a sea of despair. You must not become bitter or hostile; be hopeful and optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year. It is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.

John Lewis
John Lewis (1940-2020) American politician and civil rights leader
Stump speech

Lewis used variations of these phrases regularly through his career. Several abridged combinations showed up in social media:

Ours is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year--it is the struggle of lifetime. We must build a world at peace with itself.
[Twitter (14 Jul 2016)]

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.
[Twitter (27 Jun 2018)]

Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.
[Twitter (16 Jul 2019)]

Added on 27-Jul-22 | Last updated 27-Jul-22
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There must be a beginning of any great matter, but the continuing unto the end until it be thoroughly finished yields the true glory.

Francis Drake
Francis Drake (c.  1540-1596) English explorer, sea captain, politician
Letter to Francis Walsingham, from Sagres, Portugal (17 May 1587)
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Added on 11-Jul-22 | Last updated 11-Jul-22
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The uncommitted life is not worth living. We either believe in something or we don’t. Commitment is willingness to stand up and be counted. It is a human must — for young and old, for black and white, for Christian, Moslem and Buddhist. It is skill plus good will. It is a thoughtful decision on the part of an individual to participate passionately in the events of his time. It is the dogged staying-power coupled with the sensible idealism that makes the word go ’round.

William G Saltonstall
William Saltonstall (1905-1989) American educator and writer
“Commitment — To What? Why?” speech, School of International Training for Homecoming (Feb 1963)
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Speech to parents hosting foreign students. The opening lines are often misattributed to Pearl S. Buck. See also Socrates.
Added on 28-Apr-22 | Last updated 1-Jun-22
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The only kind of courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.

Mignon McLaughlin (1913-1983) American journalist and author
The Second Neurotic’s Notebook, ch. 4 (1966)
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Added on 6-Jan-22 | Last updated 10-Mar-22
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sometimes you climb out of bed in the morning and you think,
I’m not going to make it, but you laugh inside
remembering all the times you’ve felt that way

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“Gamblers All” (1990)
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Originally titled "8 Count and Up".
Added on 10-Nov-21 | Last updated 10-Nov-21
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Three Failures denote uncommon strength. A weakling has not enough grit to fail thrice.

No picture available
Minna Antrim (1861-1950) American epigrammatist, writer
At the Sign of the Golden Calf (1905)
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Added on 15-Oct-21 | Last updated 15-Oct-21
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It is only an error of judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to adhere to it when discovered.

Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904) American epigrammatist, writer, publisher
Intuitions and Summaries of Thought, Vol. 2 (1862)
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Added on 23-Jul-21 | Last updated 23-Jul-21
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Grief is the agony of an instant; the indulgence of Grief the blunder of a life.

Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English politician and author
Vivian Grey, Book 6, ch. 7 (1826)
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Added on 17-Aug-20 | Last updated 17-Aug-20
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An author is like a horse pulling a coal-cart down an icy hill; he ought to stop, but when he reflects that it would probably kill him to try, he goes right on, neighing and rolling his eyes.

Robertson Davies (1913-1995) Canadian author, editor, publisher
The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies (1990)
Added on 30-Oct-19 | Last updated 30-Oct-19
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what matters most is
how well you
walk through the
fire.

Charles Bukowski (1920-1994) German-American author, poet
“How Is Your Heart?” (1986)
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Added on 4-Sep-19 | Last updated 4-Sep-19
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I love my rejection slips. They show me I try.

plath-love-my-rejection-slips-wist_info-quote

Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) American poet and author
(Attributed)
Added on 23-Jan-17 | Last updated 23-Jan-17
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Heroism, the Caucasian mountaineers say, is endurance for one moment more.

George Kennan (1845-1924) American explorer, journalist, activist, lecturer
Letter to Henry Munroe Rogers (25 Jul 1921)
Added on 28-Dec-16 | Last updated 28-Dec-16
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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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Calumny is like a wasp which harasses you. Raise no hand against it unless you’re sure of killing it, for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever.

Nicolas Chamfort (1741-1794) French writer, epigrammist (b. Nicolas-Sébastien Roch)
Maxims and Thoughts, #302 (1796)
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Alt. trans.: "Calumny is like the wasp which worries you, which it were best not to try to get rid of unless you are sure of slaying it; for otherwise it will return to the charge more furious than ever."
Added on 29-Feb-16 | Last updated 29-Feb-16
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      One word after another.
      That’s the only way that novels get written and, short of elves coming in the night and turning your jumbled notes into Chapter Nine, it’s the only way to do it.
      So keep on keeping on. Write another word and then another.

Neil Gaiman (b. 1960) British fabulist
“Pep Talk from Neil Gaiman,” National Novel Writing Month (2011)
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Added on 25-Nov-15 | Last updated 25-Nov-15
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My dad had once told me that the secret to a happy life was never to start something with a girl unless you were willing to follow wherever it leads. It’s the best piece of advice he’s ever given me and probably the reason I was born.

Ben Aaronovitch (b. 1964) British author
Rivers of London [Midnight Riot] (2011)
Added on 28-Oct-15 | Last updated 28-Oct-15
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What nobody tells people who are beginners, and I really wish someone had told this to me, is that […] all of us who do creative work, we get into it, and we get into because we have good taste. […] But you get into this thing […] and there’s a gap. For the first couple of years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s really not that great. It’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. That you can tell it’s still sort of crappy. A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people at that point, they quit. […] The thing I want to tell you is, everybody goes through that. […] It’s totally normal. And the most important possible thing you can do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. […] Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. […] It’s going to take you awhile. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.

Ira Glass (b. 1959) American report, radio personality, producer
“This American Life,” Public Radio International (Aug 2009)
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Added on 12-Oct-15 | Last updated 12-Oct-15
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Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will.

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) Basque noble, priest, theologian [Ignazio Loiolakoa]
Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola
Added on 8-Oct-15 | Last updated 8-Oct-15
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You see, fellow-soldiers, that perseverance is more prevailing than violence, and that many things which cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little.

Quintus Sertorius (c. 123-72 BC) Roman statesman and general
In Plutarch, Parallel Lives, “Sertorius,” sec. 16 [Dryden ed. (1693)]
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Alt. trans.: "You see, fellow-soldiers, that perseverance is worth more than energy, and that many things that cannot be overcome when they are together, yield themselves up when taken little by little."
Added on 9-Sep-15 | Last updated 9-Sep-15
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The main idea in golf as in life, I suppose, is to learn to accept what cannot be altered, and to keep on doing one’s own reasoned and resolute best whether the prospect be bleak or rosy.

Robert Tyre "Bobby" Jones, Jr. (1902-1971) American amateur golfer, lawyer
Golf Is My Game (1960)
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Added on 4-Sep-15 | Last updated 4-Sep-15
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Keep on going and the chances are you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it. I have never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down.

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) American inventor, engineer, researcher, businessman
(Attributed)
Added on 4-Sep-15 | Last updated 4-Sep-15
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Whoever knocks persistently, ends by entering.

'Ali ibn Abi-Talib (602-661) Fourth Caliph
Maxims of ‘Ali [tr. Akbar]
Added on 19-Aug-15 | Last updated 19-Aug-15
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There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
(Attributed)
Added on 15-Jul-15 | Last updated 15-Jul-15
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‘Tis Perseverance that prevails.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs, #5110 (1732)
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Added on 1-Jul-15 | Last updated 26-Jan-21
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Every great improvement has come after repeated failures. Virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) American inventor, engineer, researcher, businessman
(Attributed)
    (Source)
Added on 12-Jun-15 | Last updated 12-Jun-15
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The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling.

[Gutta cavat lapidem, non vi, sed saepe cadendo.]

(Other Authors and Sources)
Latin proverb

Alt. trans.:
  • "The rain dints the hard stone, not by violence, but by oft-falling drops."
  • "The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling."
  • "The drop hollows out the stone not by strength, but by constant falling."
  • "The drop hollows the stone, not with force but by falling often."
  • "Dripping water hollows out the stone not by force, but by continually falling."

Some famous usages include Lucretius, De rerum natura, Book 6, l. 312: "The ring on the finger is tapered by being worn, the dripping water hollows out the stone, the plow is subtly worn by the impact of the fields." [anulus in digito subter tenuatur habendo, stilicidi casus lapidem cavat, uncus aratri, ferreus occulte decrescit vomer in arvis]

Similarly Ovid, Ex Ponte, 4.10.5: "The drop hollows out the stone, the ring is worn by use, and the curved ploughshare is rubbed away by the pressure of the earth." [Gutta cavat lapidem, consumitur annulus usu, et teritur pressa vomer aduncus humo.]

Made famous in English by Hugh Latimer, "Seventh Sermon before Edward VI" (1549). Similarly, John Lyly, Euphues (1580): "The soft droppes of rain perce the hard marble; many strokes overthrow the tallest oaks."

Added on 28-Jul-14 | Last updated 28-Jul-14
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I met, not long ago, a young man who aspired to become a novelist. Knowing that I was in the profession, he asked me to tell him how he should set to work to realize his ambition. I did my best to explain. “The first thing,” I said, “is to buy quite a lot of paper, a bottle of ink, and a pen. After that you merely have to write.”

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
“Sermons in Cats,” Music at Night and Other Essays (1931)
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Added on 20-Sep-11 | Last updated 19-Dec-19
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If there is such a thing as luck, then I must be the most unlucky fellow in the world. I’ve never once made a lucky strike in all my life. When I get after something I need, I start finding everything in the world I don’t need — one damn thing after another. I find ninety-nine things I don’t need, and then comes number one hundred , and that — at the very last — turns out to be just what I had been looking for.

Thomas Edison (1847-1931) American inventor and businessman
Remarks to M. A. Rosanoff, “Edison in His Laboratory,” Harper’s (Sep 1932)
Added on 4-Jun-09 | Last updated 6-Jan-16
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These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“The American Crisis” (23 Dec 1776)

Written after Washington retreated from New Jersey.
Added on 12-Feb-08 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man had taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Natural History of Intellect, Lecture 1, “Powers and Laws of Thought,” Harvard University (Spring 1870)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 9-Mar-22
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The baby rises to its feet, takes a step, is overcome with triumph and joy — and falls flat on its face. It is a pattern for all that is to come! But learn from the bewildered baby. Lurch to your feet again. You’ll make the sofa in the end.

Pamela Brown (1924-1989) British writer, actress, television producer
The Swish of the Curtain (1938)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Jul-17
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Our greatest glory is, not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

Oliver Goldsmith (1730-1774) Irish poet, playwright, novelist
The Citizen of the World: or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Residing in London, to His Friends in the East, Letter 7 (1762)
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Ostensibly from a Chinese visitor to London, Lien Chi Altangi, the letters were written by Goldsmith and published in The Public Ledger in 1760-61. Letter 22 has the similar "True magnanimity consists not in NEVER falling, but in RISING every time we fall."

The saying is often attributed to Confucius (Letter 7's introduction implied that they were), but is not found in Confucius' work. The saying is also sometimes attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. See here for more discussion.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 5-Jul-20
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The Master said of Yen Yuan, “Alas! I saw his constant advance. I never saw him stop in his progress.”

Confucius (c. 551- c. 479 BC) Chinese philosopher, sage, politician [孔夫子 (Kǒng Fūzǐ, K'ung Fu-tzu, K'ung Fu Tse), 孔子 (Kǒngzǐ, Chungni), 孔丘 (Kǒng Qiū, K'ung Ch'iu)]
The Analects [Lun Yü], 9.20 (6th C. BC) [ed. Lao-Tse, tr. Legge (1861)]
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Probable origin of the frequently attributed "It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop." Alt. trans.:
  • 'Confucius remarked of the same disciple [Yen Hui]: "Alas! he is dead. I have observed his constant advance; I never saw him stop in his progress."' [tr. Ku Hung-Ming (1898)]
  • "Alas for Hwui! I saw him ever making progress. I never saw him stopping short." [tr. Wilson (1900)]
  • 'The Master, referring to Yen Yüan, said: "Alas! I ever saw him make progress, and never saw him stand still."' [tr. Soothill (1910)]
  • 'The Master said of Yan Hui: "Alas, I watched his progress, but did not see him reach the goal."' [tr. Leys (1997), 9.21]
  • 'The Master said about Yan Hui, "Such a pity! I only saw his progress; I never saw where he got to."' [tr. Ames/Rosemont (1998)]
  • 'The Master, referring to Yan Hui, said, "It is a pity! I saw him moving forward but did not see him complete his journey."' [tr. Annping Chin (2014)]
  • "I saw him ever making progress. I never saw him stopping short." [tr. Jennings]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Nov-20
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One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
The Tragedy of Pudd’n’head Wilson, ch. 7, epigraph (1894)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-May-16
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A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
(Spurious)

Frequently ascribed to him, especially in recent decades, but not found in his works.

More discussion about this quotation:
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Feb-22
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