Quotations about   potential

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Most of us stand poised at the edge of brilliance, haunted by the knowledge of our proximity, yet still demonstrably on the wrong side of the line, our dealings with reality undermined by a range of minor yet critical psychological flaws (a little too much optimism, an unprocessed rebelliousness, a fatal impatience or sentimentality). We are like an exquisite high-speed aircraft which for lack of a tiny part is left stranded beside the runway, rendered slower than a tractor or bicycle.

Alain de Botton (b. 1969) Swiss-British author
The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, ch. 4 (2009)
Added on 4-Oct-18 | Last updated 4-Oct-18
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Well-married, a man is winged — ill-matched, he is shackled.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Norwood, Vol. 1, ch. 6 (1867)

Later requoted in Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, ch. 17 "The Family" (1887).
Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 18-Sep-17
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There is only one proof of ability — action.

[Für das Können gibt es nur einen Beweis: das Tun.]

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830-1916) Austrian writer
Aphorisms [Aphorismen] [tr. Wister (1883)]

Alt. trans.: "There is only one proof of ability: doing it."
Added on 7-Aug-17 | Last updated 7-Aug-17
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Change is the essence of life: be willing to surrender who you are for what you could become.

Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) American theologian and clergyman

Sometimes elided to: "Change is the essence of life: surrender who you are for what you could become."
Added on 13-Jul-17 | Last updated 13-Jul-17
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Listen to the MUSTN’Ts, child,
Listen to the DON’Ts
Listen to the SHOULDN’Ts
Listen to the NEVER HAVEs
Then listen close to me —
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

Shel Silverstein (1930-1999) American poet, singer-songwriter, cartoonist, children's author
“Listen To The Mustn’ts,” Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974)
Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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Hide not your Talents, they for Use were made.
What’s a Sun-Dial in the Shade?


Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Poor Richard’s Almanack (Oct 1750)
Added on 14-Sep-16 | Last updated 14-Sep-16
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And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious, and great things.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1963) German poet
Letter to Clara Rilke (1 Jan 1907)

Usually paraphrased: "And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been."
Added on 31-Dec-15 | Last updated 31-Dec-15
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Although men are accused of not knowing their own weakness, yet perhaps as few know their own strength. It is in men as in soils, where sometimes there is a vein of gold, which the owner knows not of.

Swift - vein of gold - wist_info

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) English writer and churchman
“Thoughts on Various Subjects” (1706)
Added on 29-Oct-15 | Last updated 3-Jun-16
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The education of our people should be a lifelong process by which we continue to feed new vigor into the lifestream of the Nation through intelligent, reasoned decisions. Let us not think of education only in terms of its costs, but rather in terms of the infinite potential of the human mind that can be realized through education. Let us think of education as the means of developing our greatest abilities, because in each of us there is a private hope and dream which, fulfilled, can be translated into benefit for everyone and greater strength for our Nation.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“Proclamation 3422 – American Education Week, 1961” (25 Jul 1961)
Added on 11-Aug-14 | Last updated 11-Aug-14
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It is a mortifying reflection for any man to consider what he has done with what he might have done.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic

Quoted by Rev. Dr. Maxwell (1770), in James Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
Added on 31-Dec-13 | Last updated 1-Jan-14
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Conservatism stands on man’s incontestable limitations; reform on his indisputable infinitiude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“The Conservative,” lecture, Masonic Temple, Boston (9 Dec 1841)
Added on 14-Apr-09 | Last updated 26-Dec-16
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