Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Failure

"Success requires no explanations. Failure permits no alibis." - Napoleon Hill

"The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail." - Napoleon Hill

"Lack of loyalty is one of the major causes of failure in every walk of life." - Napoleon Hill

"Let us acknowledge it wiser, if not more sagacious, to follow out one's daydream to its natural consummation, although if the vision have been worth the having, it is certain never to be consummated otherwise than by a failure." - Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Failure begins in your thoughts." - Norman Vincent Peale

"Although most of us probably attribute our problems to other people or to bad luck or to the circumstances around us, the truth is that we create our own success or failure." - Norman Vincent Peale

"The man who lives for himself is a failure. Even if he gains much wealth, position or power he still is a failure. The man who lives for others has achieved true success." - Norman Vincent Peale

"Every idea is an incitement. It offers itself for belief and, if believed, it is acted on unless some other belief outweighs it, or some failure of energy stifles the movements at its birth." - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

"He who risks and fails can be forgiven. He who never risks and never fails is a failure in his whole being." - Paul Tillich, fully Paul Johannes Tillich

"I've never met a person, I don't care what his condition, in whom I could not see possibilities. I don't care how much a man may consider himself a failure, I believe in him, for he can change the thing that is wrong in his life any time he is ready and prepared to do it. Whenever he develops the desire, he can take away from his life the thing that is defeating it. The capacity for reformation and change lies within." - Preston Bradley

"The world has a way of giving what is demanded of it. If you are frightened and look for failure and poverty, you will get them, no matter how hard you may try to succeed. Lack of faith in yourself, in what life will do for you, cuts you off from the good things of the world. Expect victory and you make victory. Nowhere is this truer than in business life, where bravery and faith bring both material and spiritual rewards." - Preston Bradley

"The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it - so fine that we often are on the line and do not know it." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Willpower should be understood to be the strength of mind which makes it capable of meeting success or failure with equanimity… Success develops arrogance, and the man’s spiritual progress is thus arrested. Failure, on the other hand, is beneficial, inasmuch as it opens the eyes of the man to his limitations and prepares him to surrender himself. Self-surrender is synonymous with eternal happiness. Therefore, one should try to gain the equipoise of mind under all circumstances: that is will-power." -

"We must always seek to reach up and reach out to achieve our full potential... It is a mistake to assume that we can ever achieve perfection. But it is an even greater mistake to cease trying. Without risk there will be neither success nor failure. As Thomas Aquinas observed: If the primary aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever." -

"Loser's visualize the penalties of failure. Winners visualize the rewards of success. [Also attributed to Larry Bird]" - Robert Gilbert, aka Rob

"A minute's success pays the failure of years." - Robert Browning

"Sexual boredom, that predator of marriages, is generally ascribed to overfamiliarity; but I think it mighty more aptly be blamed on the lack or failure of true intimacy... Sex thrives on the dynamics between novelty and intimacy... What is inalienably shared... for brief encounters, in which little is genuinely discovered or given, tend to emphasize people’s sameness rather than their individuality, and hence to obliterate the novelty that is sought. Intimacy, which demands time and trust, is available almost exclusively through marriage and long friendship." - Robert Grudin

"Keep in mind that neither success nor failure is ever final." - Roger Babson, fully Roger Ward Babson

"Students rarely disappoint teachers who assure them in advance that they are doomed to failure." - Sidney Hook

"Our minds are so constructed that we can keep the attention fixed on a particular object until we have, as it were, looked all around it; and the mind that possesses this faculty in the highest degree of perfection will take cognizance of relations of which another mind has no perception. It is this, much more than any difference in the abstract power of reasoning, which constitutes the vast difference between the minds of different individuals. This is the history alike of the poetic genius and of the genius of discovery in science. “I keep the subject,” said Sir Isaac Newton, “constantly before me, and wait until the dawnings open by little and little into a full light.” It was thus that after long meditation he was led to the invention of fluxions, and to the anticipation of the modern discovery of the combustibility of the diamond. It was thus that Harvey discovered the circulation of the blood, and that those views were suggested by Davy which laid the foundation of that grand series of experimental researches which terminated in the decomposition of the earths and alkalies." - Benjamin Collins Brodie, fully Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, 1st Baronet

"The failure of the mind in old age is often less the results of natural decay, than of disuse. Ambition has ceased to operate; contentment bring indolence, and indolence decay of mental power, ennui, and sometimes death. Men have been known to die, literally speaking, of disease induced by intellectual vacancy." - Benjamin Collins Brodie, fully Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie, 1st Baronet

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat." - Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt

"Our ideas about life inevitably shape its structure, and, because they are usually too simple, it is wise to reflect on them... simple life axioms... The first is afraid of failure, yet it is surely impossible to have love in your life at all without the possibility of its loss. The second is afraid of self-revelation and vulnerability, and yet how can there be love without an opening of the heart and considerable emotional risk? The third is afraid of mortal love - the knowledge that although love itself may be eternal, the people who love are faced with the inevitable separation of death." - Thomas Moore

"Perfection belongs to an imaginary world... Ordinary failures in work are an inevitable part of the descent of the spirit into human limitation. Failure is a mystery, not a problem." - Thomas Moore

"Freedom is an open door, but you must walk through it... Freedom is an invitation to be creative... Freedom is the right to be yourself, to make mistakes, to fail and try again. No failure is final; freedom always gives you another chance." - Wilferd Peterson, fully Wilferd Arlan Peterson

"I don't know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." - Bill Cosby, fully William Henry "Bill" Cosby Jr.

"Good people are good because they've come to wisdom through failure. We get very little wisdom from success, you know. . . One who doesn't try cannot fail and become wise." - William Saroyan

"The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic, and self-complacent is erroneous; on the contrary, it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant, and kind. Failure makes people cruel and bitter." - W. Somerset Maugham, fully William Somerset Maugham

"The common idea that success spoils people by making them vain, egotistic and self complacent is erroneous--on the contrary it makes them, for the most part, humble, tolerant and kind. Failure makes people bitter and cruel." - W. Somerset Maugham, fully William Somerset Maugham

"A failure is not always a mistake; it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying." - B. F. Skinner, fully Burrhus Frederic "B.F." Skinner

"Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership. " - Colin Powell, fully Colin Luther Powell

"Moderate effort over a long time is important, no matter what you are trying to do. One brings failure upon oneself by working extremely hard at the beginning, attempting to do too much, and then giving up after a short time. " -

"Forget about the consequences of failure. Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success. " - Denis E. Waitley

"In the end ... success or failure will come down to an ethical decision, one on which those now living will be judged for generations to come." - E. O. Wilson, fully Edward Osborne "E.O." Wilson

"A man may fall many times but he won't be a failure until he says someone pushed him." - Elmer G. Leterman

"There is no loneliness greater than the loneliness of a failure. The failure is a stranger in his own house. " - Eric Hoffer

"They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia and Latin America? " - Fidel Castro, fully Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz

"Every great work, every big accomplishment, has been brought into manifestation through holding to the vision, and often just before the big achievement, comes apparent failure and discouragement. " - Florence Scovel Shinn

"Lack of will power has caused more failure than lack of intelligence or ability." - Florida Scott-Maxwell

"There is only one real failure in life that is possible, and that is, not to be true to the best one knows. " - Frederick William Farrar

"We create success or failure on the course primarily by our thoughts." - Gary Player

"When freedom fails, politicians use that failure to justify abandoning freedom, but when the state fails, politicians use the failure to justify expanding the state." - Gary Snyder

"Creative risk taking is essential to success in any goal where the stakes are high. Thoughtless risks are destructive, of course, but perhaps even more wasteful is thoughtless caution which prompts inaction and promotes failure to seize opportunity. " - Gary Ryan Blair

"Thoughtless risks are destructive, of course, but perhaps even more wasteful is thoughtless caution which prompts inaction and promotes failure to seize opportunity." - Gary Ryan Blair

"The only failure a man ought to fear is failure of cleaving to the purpose he sees to be best." - George Eliot, pen name of Mary Ann or Marian Evans

"Because a fellow has failed once or twice or a dozen times, you don't want to set him down as a failure till he's dead or loses his courage-and that's the same thing." - George Horace Lorimer

"A real failure does not need an excuse. It is an end in itself. " - Gertrude Stein

"No failure in America, whether of love or money, is ever simple; it is always a kind of betrayal, of a mass of shadowy, shared hopes" - Greil Marcus

"No one is completely unhappy at the failure of his best friend." - Groucho Marx, Pseudonym for Julius Henry Marx

"Life is an apprenticeship to constant renunciations, to the steady failure of our claims, our hopes, our powers, our liberty. " - Henri Frédéric Amiel