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A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.

William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey (1895-1983) American professional boxer ("Kid Blackie," "The Manassa Mauler")
(Attributed)
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Comment after his fight with Luis Ángel Firpo (14 Sep 1923).
Added on 4-Apr-18 | Last updated 4-Apr-18
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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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Did they live happily ever after? They did not. No one ever does, in spite of what the stories may say. They had their good days, as you do, and they had their bad days, and you know about those. They had their victories, as you do, and they had their defeats, and you know about those, too. There were times when they felt ashamed of themselves, knowing they had not done their best, and there were times when they knew they had stood where their God had meant them to stand. All I’m trying to say is that they lived as well as they could.

Stephen King (b. 1947) American author
The Eyes of the Dragon (1987)
Added on 7-Sep-16 | Last updated 7-Sep-16
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Better hazard once than be always in fear.

Fuller - hazard once - wist_info quote

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia: Adages and Proverbs (1732) [comp.]
Added on 21-Apr-16 | Last updated 21-Apr-16
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YODA: No! Try not. Do — or do not. There is no try.

Lawrence Kasdan (b. 1949) American screenwriter, director, producer
The Empire Strikes Back (1980) [with George Lucas and Leigh Brackett]
Added on 5-Feb-16 | Last updated 5-Feb-16
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You don’t become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, then doing it so hard that you become great in the process.

Munroe - become great - wist_info quote

Randall Munroe (b. 1984) American webcomic writer, roboticist, programmer
XKCD, # 896 “Marie Curie” (9 May 2011)
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Added on 20-Jan-16 | Last updated 20-Jan-16
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The only time you don’t want to fail is the last time you try a thing.

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958) American inventor, engineer, researcher, businessman
“Don’t Be Afraid to Stumble,” The Rotarian (Jan 1952)
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This was a favorite phrase of Kettering's, and many versions exist or are attributed.
  • "The only time you mustn't fail is the last time you try." (The Rotarian (May 1953))
  • "The only time you don't want to fail is the last time you try."
  • "The only time you can't afford to fail is the last time you try."
  • "The only time you don't fail is the last time you try something, and it works."
Added on 31-Jul-15 | Last updated 31-Jul-15
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‘Tis Perseverance that prevails.

Thomas Fuller (1654-1734) English writer, physician
Gnomologia, #5110 (1732)
Added on 1-Jul-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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Let us think the unthinkable, let us do the undoable, let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)
Added on 18-May-15 | Last updated 18-May-15
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Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. For one thing we know beyond all doubt: Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, “It can’t be done.”

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
You Learn By Living (1960)
Added on 22-Apr-15 | Last updated 22-Apr-15
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You have greatly ventured, but all must do so who would greatly win.

George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) English poet
Marino Faliero, Doge of Venice, Act 1, sc. 1 (1821)
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Added on 18-Mar-15 | Last updated 18-Mar-15
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I had applied for the nuclear submarine program, and Admiral Rickover was interviewing me for the job. It was the first time I met Admiral Rickover, and we sat in a large room by ourselves for more than two hours, and he let me choose any subjects I wished to discuss. Very carefully, I chose those about which I knew most at the time, current events, seamanship, music, literature, naval tactics, electronics, gunnery and he began to ask me a series of questions of increasing difficulty. In each instance, he soon proved that I knew relatively little about the subject I had chosen.

He always looked right into my eyes, and he never smiled. I was saturated with cold sweat.

Finally, he asked a question and I thought I could redeem myself. He said, “How did you stand in your class at the Naval Academy?” Since I had completed my sophomore year at Georgia Tech before entering Annapolis as a plebe, I had done very well, and I swelled my chest with pride and answered, “Sir, I stood fifty-ninth in a class of 820!”

I sat back to wait for the congratulations, which never came. Instead, the question: “Did you do your best?” I started to say, “Yes, sir,” but I remembered who this was and recalled several of the many times at the Academy when I could have learned more about our allies, our enemies, weapons, strategy, and so forth. I was just human. I finally gulped and said, “No, sir, I didn’t always do my best.”

He looked at me for a long time, and then turned his chair around to end the interview. He asked one final question, which I have never been able to forget or to answer. He said, “Why not?”

I sat there for a while, shaken, and then slowly left the room.

Jimmy Carter (b. 1924) American politician, US President (1977-1981), Nobel laureate [James Earl Carter, Jr.]
Why Not The Best? (1975)
Added on 3-Feb-15 | Last updated 3-Feb-15
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When we watch a child trying to walk, we see its countless failures; its success are but few. If we had to limit our observation within a narrow space of time, the sight would be cruel. But we find that in spite of its repeated failures, there is an impetus of joy in the child which sustains it in its seemingly impossible task. We see it does not think of its falls so much as of its power to keep its balance though for only a moment.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) Indian Bengali poet, philosopher [a.k.a. Rabi Thakur, Kabiguru]
Sadhana: The Realization of Life, ch. 3 (1913)
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Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
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Talking of the danger of being mortified by rejection, when making approaches to the acquaintance of the great, I observed, “I am, however, generally for trying, ‘Nothing venture, nothing have.'” JOHNSON. “Very true, sir; but I have always been more afraid of failing, than hopeful of success.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
Comment (22 Sep 1777)
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In Boswell, The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791)See Heywood.
Added on 13-Jan-15 | Last updated 5-Jan-16
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‘Tis a lesson you should heed,
Try, try again;
If at first you don’t succeed,
Try, try again.

Other Authors and Sources
T. H. Palmer, “Try, Try Again,” The Teacher’s Manual (1840)
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Sometimes attributed to Charles Theodore Hart Palmer (1827-1897), but the book is clearly by Thomas H. Palmer, and was published in 1840 when Charles T. H. Palmer was 13 years old.
Added on 25-Nov-14 | Last updated 25-Nov-14
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What goals would you be setting for yourself if you knew you could not fail?

Robert H. Schuller (b. 1926) American televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker, author
You Can Become the Person You Want To Be, ch. 2 (1973)

Earliest version of this aphorism. Often attributed (without citation) to Eleanor Roosevelt. See here for more information.Variants:
  • "What would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"
  • "If you knew you cold not fail, what would you try?"
  • "What great things would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?"
Added on 22-Jul-14 | Last updated 22-Jul-14
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That is the question of the New Frontier. That is the choice our nation must make — a choice that lies not merely between two men or two parties, but between the public interest and private comfort — between national greatness and national decline — between the fresh air of progress and the stale, dank atmosphere of “normalcy” — between determined dedication and creeping mediocrity. All mankind waits upon our decision. A whole world looks to see what we will do. We cannot fail their trust, we cannot fail to try.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
“The New Frontier,” Presidential Nomination Acceptance Speech, Democratic National Convention, Los Angeles (15 Jul 1960)
Added on 14-Jul-14 | Last updated 14-Jul-14
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Nothing will ever be attempted, if all possible objections must be first overcome.

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) English writer, lexicographer, critic
The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, ch. 6 (1759)
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Added on 29-Mar-13 | Last updated 13-Oct-14
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You can’t always get what you want.
But if you try sometimes,
You just might find
You get what you need.

Michael Philip "Mick" Jagger (b. 1943) English musician, songwriter, producer, actor
“You Can’t Always Get What You Want” [with Keith Richards] (1969)
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Added on 9-Feb-10 | Last updated 18-Jun-15
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For us there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“East Coker” (1940), Four Quartets (1943)
Added on 20-Nov-09 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909) American clergyman and author
“I Am Only One”
Added on 24-Oct-08 | Last updated 10-Mar-15
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Not failure, but low aim, is crime.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) American diplomat, essayist, poet
“For an Autograph,” st. 5 (1868)
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Added on 11-Sep-07 | Last updated 16-Aug-19
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You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
In Edward P. Morgan (ed.) This I Believe … (1952)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 24-Nov-14
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There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that lost by not trying.

Francis Bacon (1561-1626) English philosopher, scientist, author, statesman
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 16-May-16
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I have tried my best to give the nation everything I had in me. There are probably a million people who could have done the job better than I did it, but I had the job and I had to do it, and I always quote an epitaph on a tombstone in Tombstone, Ariz.: “Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damnedest.”

Harry S Truman (1884-1972) US President (1945-1953)
Time, “The Presidency: The Answer Man” (28 Apr. 1952)

Speaking in Winslow, AZ (15 Jun 1948), Truman said, "You know, the greatest epitaph in the country is here in Arizona. It’s in Tombstone, Ariz., and this epitaph says, 'Here lies Jack Williams. He done his damndest.' I think that is the greatest epitaph a man could have."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Jun-16
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Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.

Robert Francis Kennedy (1925-1968) American politician
“Day of Affirmation,” address, University of Capetown, South Africa (6 Jun 1966)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 22-Sep-14
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There are two great rules in life, the one general and the other particular. The first is that every one can in the end get what he wants if he only tries. This is the general rule. The particular rule is that every individual is more or less of an exception to the general rule.

Samuel Butler (1835-1902) English novelist, satirist, scholar
Notebooks (1912)
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 21-May-15
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