Quotations about   potential

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The difficult is what takes a little time; the impossible is what takes a little longer.

Fridtjof Nansen (1861-1930) Norwegian explorer, scientist, diplomat, humanitarian
Quoted in Listener (14 Dec 1939)
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Added on 15-Oct-20 | Last updated 15-Oct-20
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If you are what you ought to be, you will set fire to all Italy, and not only yonder.

[Se sarete quello che dovete essere, metterete fuoco in tutta Italia, non tanto costì.]

Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) Italian Catholic mystic, activist, author
Letter 368 to Stefano Maconi
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Alt. trans.:
  • "Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire." [Quoted by Bishop Richard Chartres, sermon, Royal Wedding, Westminster Abbey (29 Apr 2011)]
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!" [Quoted by Pope John Paul II, Closing Homily at World Youth Day, Tor Vergata (20 Aug 2000)]
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set the world on fire."
  • "Become who God intended you to be and you will set the world on fire."
  • "If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!"
Original Italian.
Added on 7-Oct-20 | Last updated 7-Oct-20
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To believe that man’s aggressiveness or territoriality is in the nature of the beast is to mistake some men for all men, contemporary society for all possible societies, and, by a remarkable transformation, to justify what is as what needs must be; social repression becomes a response to, rather than a cause of, human violence.

Leon Eisenberg (1922-2009) American psychiatrist and medical educator
“The Human Nature of Human Nature,” Science (14 Apr 1972)
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Based on an address at Faculty of Medicine Day, McGill University Sesquicentennial Celebration, Montreal, Canada (1 Oct 1971).
Added on 4-Aug-20 | Last updated 4-Aug-20
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Be fit for more than the thing you are now doing. Let everyone know that you have a reserve in yourself, — that you have more power than you are now using. If you are not too large for the place you occupy, you are too small for it.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“Elements of Success,” speech at Spencerian Business College, Washington, DC (29 Jun 1869)
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Reprinted in in B. A. Hinsdale, ed., President Garfield and Education: Hiram College Memorial, ch. 8 (1882).
Added on 3-Jul-20 | Last updated 3-Jul-20
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Every fellow is really two men — what he is and what he might be; and you’re never absolutely sure which you’re going to bury till he’s dead.

George Horace Lorimer (1867-1937) American journalist, author, magazine editor
Old Gorgon Graham: More Letters from a Self-Made Merchant to His Son, ch. 12 (1904)
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Added on 8-May-20 | Last updated 8-May-20
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A babe is nothing but a bundle of possibilities.

Henry Ward Beecher (1813-1887) American clergyman and orator
Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, “Children” (1887) [ed. William Drysdale]
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Added on 28-Apr-20 | Last updated 28-Apr-20
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He who would acquire fame must not show himself afraid of censure. The dread of censure is the death of genius.

William G. Simms (1806-1870) American writer and politician
Egeria, Or Voices of Thought and Counsel, for the Woods and Wayside, “Ambition” (1853)
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Added on 15-Apr-20 | Last updated 15-Apr-20
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Most men resemble great deserted palaces: the owner occupies only a few rooms and has closed-off wings where he never ventures.

[Presque tous les hommes ressemblent à ces grands palais déserts dont le propriétaire n’habite que quelques pièces; et il ne pénètre jamais dans les ailes condamnées.]

François Mauriac (1885-1970) French author, critic, journalist
Second Thoughts: Reflections on Literature and on Life (1961) [tr. Foulke]
Added on 23-Mar-20 | Last updated 22-Jul-20
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To do the work that you are capable of doing is the mark of maturity.

Betty Friedan (1921-2006) American writer, feminist, activist
The Feminine Mystique (1963)
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Added on 3-Feb-20 | Last updated 3-Feb-20
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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)
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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; or, Village Life in New England, Vol. 1, ch. 6 (1867)
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Later requoted in Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, ch. 17 "The Family" (1887).
Added on 6-Sep-17 | Last updated 16-Mar-20
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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)]
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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
(Attributed)

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
The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’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?

franklin-sundial-in-the-shade-wist_info-quote

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)
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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)
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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)
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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
Comment

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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We are not powerless. We have tremendous potential for good or ill. How we choose to use that power is up to us; but first we must choose to use it. We’re told every day, “You can’t change the world.” But the world is changing every day. Only question is … who’s doing it? You or somebody else?

J. Michael (Joe) Straczynski (b. 1954) American screenwriter, producer, author [a/k/a "JMS"]
rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated, “At The Midpoint (Spoilers for everything)” (7 Apr 1995)
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Added on 29-Jan-10 | Last updated 17-Jul-20
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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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Do not permit what you cannot do to interfere with what you can do.

John Wooden (1910-2010) American basketball player and coach
Coach Wooden One-on-One, “Day 25” (2003) [with Jay Carty]
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Variant: "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Sep-20
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