Quotations about   skill

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If hard work is not another name for talent, it is the best possible substitute for it.

James A. Garfield (1831-1881) US President (1881), lawyer, lay preacher, educator
“College Education,” Speech, Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (Jun 1867)
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Added on 31-Jul-20 | Last updated 31-Jul-20
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In art as in lovemaking, heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and so does heartless skill, but what you want is passionate virtuosity.

John Barth (b. 1930) American writer
Quoted in Charles B. Harris, Passionate Virtuosity: The Fiction of John Barth (1983)
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Quoted as such in the introductory materials, without specific citation. Barth used the phrase on multiple occasions, including:
  • "My feeling about technique in art is that it has about the same value as technique in love-making. That is to say, on the one hand, heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal and, on the other hand, so does heartless skill; but what you want is passionate virtuosity." [first used, in Alan Prince, "An Interview with John Barth," Prism (Spring 1968)]
  • "Heartfelt ineptitude has its appeal, Dunyazade; so does heartless skill. But what you want is passionate virtuosity." [Barth, Chimera (1972)]
Added on 12-Mar-20 | Last updated 12-Mar-20
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The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

[πόλλ’ οἶδ’ ἀλώπηξ, ἐχῖνος δ’ἓν μέγα]

Archilochus (c. 680-645 BC) Greek lyric poet and mercenary [Ἀρχίλοχος, Archilochos, Arkhilokhus]
Fragment 201
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As quoted in Isaiah Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox (1953). The fragment is found in a group of proverbs collected by Zenobius. Alt. trans.:
  • The fox knows many things; the hedgehog one great thing.
  • The fox knows many tricks; the hedgehog one good one.
  • The fox knows many tricks; and the hedgehog only one; but that is the best one of all.
  • Fox knows many, Hedgehog one solid trick.
  • Fox knows tricks and still gets caught; Hedgehog knows one but it always works. (Source)
Added on 17-Jan-20 | Last updated 21-Jan-20
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Ability is not something to be saved, like money, in the hope that you can draw interest on it. The interest comes from the spending. Unused ability, like unused muscles, will atrophy.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow Is Now (1963)
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Added on 14-Aug-17 | Last updated 14-Aug-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)]
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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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Ability hits the mark where presumption overshoots and diffidence falls short.

John Henry Newman (1801-1890) English prelate, Catholic Cardinal, theologian
(Attributed)

Also attributed to Golda Meir.
Added on 10-Jul-17 | Last updated 10-Jul-17
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Anybody who teaches a skill, which coaches do, is admirable. But sport doesn’t build character. Character is built pretty much by the time you’re six or seven. Sports reveals character. Sports heightens your perceptions. Let that be enough.

Heywood Hale Broun (1918-2001) American author, sportswriter, actor
In Ames Daily Tribune (16 Jan 1974)

Broun used a number of variations of this idea. It was more famously paraphrased in James Michener, Sports in America (1976), as "Sports do not build character. They reveal it." More discussion on this quote here.
Added on 18-Oct-16 | Last updated 18-Oct-16
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When you write easily, you always think you have more talent than you really do.

Joseph Joubert (1754-1824) French moralist
Pensées (1838) [ed. Auster (1983)]
Added on 16-Sep-13 | Last updated 13-May-16
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