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Quotes about opportunity.


  • I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon—if I can. I seek opportunity—not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I want to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole. I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud and unafraid; to think and act for myself, enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, this I have done. All this is what it means to be an American.
    • Dean Alfange, Who's Who in America, 1984–85, vol. 1, p. 42. These words have appeared at the end of his entry in several successive editions. Originally published in This Week Magazine. Later reprinted in The Reader's Digest, October 1952, p. 10, and January 1954, p. 122, lacking these words: "I will never cower before any master nor bend to any threat" and "to stand erect, proud and unafraid."
  • A thousand years a poor man watched
    Before the gate of Paradise:
    But while one little nap he snatched,
    It oped and shut. Ah! was he wise?
  • A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds.
  • I took over the Moran and Mack spot and wowed them. The theater owner's report to the booker of the entire circuit was a glowing review. A week later I was booked on a bigger circuit. I kept working and polishing my act until the GIANT door opened for me and there was the big time ... the Palace Theater [sic] on Broadway.
    P.S. If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door.
  • Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.
    • Thomas Edison, as quoted in An Enemy Called Average (1990) by John L. Mason, p. 55.
  • Never waste a crisis. It can be turned to joyful transformation.
    • Rahm Israel Emanuel, from an article in the New York Times (March 17th 2009).
    • The variant "Don't waste a crisis" was found as early as in 1976 in other fields.
  • Sometimes, you need a door slammed in your face before you can hear opportunity knock.
    • James Geary (b. 1962), American magazine editor, writer and aphorist. From 'My Aphorisms', on James Geary's website, 2009.
  • To attract good luck to oneself, it is necessary to take advantage of opportunities.
    • George S. Glason, 'Meet the Goddess of God Luck', The Richest Man in Babylon. Signet (1988).
  • When there's an opportunity, some people pass it by. I've been lucky enough to recognise opportunities and every day, in my business, there's an opportunity somewhere – to buy, expand, design.
    • Laurence Graff (b.1938), British businessman. Interview in the Evening Standard's ES Magazine, 17th December 2007, interviewed by Godfrey Barker.
  • You can never find a lost opportunity.
  • History repeats itself, opportunity doesn't.
  • Opportunity has hair in front, but behind she is bald; if you seize her by the forlock, you may hold her, but if suffered to escape, not Jupiter himself can catch her again.
    • Latin Sayings.
  • There is a tide in the affairs of men,
    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
    Omitted, all the voyage of their life
    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
  • Urge them while their souls
    Are capable of this ambition
    Lest zeal, now melted by the windy breath
    Of soft petitions, pity and remorse,
    Cool and congeal again to what it was.
  • Men who are resolved to find a way for themselves will always find opportunities enough; and if they do not lie ready to their hand, they will make them.
    • Samuel Smiles, 19th C Scottish author and reformer. 'Helps and Opportunities: Scientific Pursuits', Self-Help (1856), Ch 5.
  • Opportunity is like a bald-headed man with only a patch of hair right in front. You have to grab that hair, grasp the opportunity while it's confronting you, else you'll be grasping a slick bald head.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 570-72.
  • There is an hour in each man's life appointed
    To make his happiness, if then he seize it.
  • This could but have happened once,
    And we missed it, lost it forever.
  • He that will not when he may,
    When he will he shall have nay.
    • Robert Burton, Quoted in Anatomy of Melancholy, Part III, Section 2. Memb. 5. Subsec. 5.
  • There is a nick in Fortune's restless wheel
    For each man's good.
  • Holding occasion by the hand,
    Not over nice 'twixt weed and flower,
    Waiving what none can understand,
    I take mine hour.
  • Who lets slip fortune, her shall never find:
    Occasion once past by, is bald behind.
  • Rem tibi quam nosces aptam dimittere noli;
    Fronte capillata, post est occasio calva.
    • Let nothing pass which will advantage you;
      Hairy in front, Occasion's bald behind.
    • Dionysius Cato, Disticha de Moribus, II. 26.
  • Observe the opportunity.
    • Ecclesiasticus, IV. 20.
  • Seek not for fresher founts afar,
    Just drop your bucket where you are;
    And while the ship right onward leaps,
    Uplift it from exhaustless deeps.
    Parch not your life with dry despair;
    The stream of hope flows everywhere—
    So under every sky and star,
    Just drop your bucket where you are!
  • "Oh, ship ahoy!" rang out the cry;
    "Oh, give us water or we die!"
    A voice came o'er the waters far,
    "Just drop your bucket where you are."
    And then they dipped and drank their fill
    Of water fresh from mead and hill;
    And then they knew they sailed upon
    The broad mouth of the Amazon.
    • Sam Walter Foss, Opportunity. "Let down your buckets where you are," quoted by Booker T. Washington. Address at Atlanta Exposition. See his Life, Up From Slavery.
  • Der den Augenblick ergreift,
    Das ist der rechte Mann.
  • Man's extremity is God's opportunity.
    • John Hamilton (Lord Belhaven). In the Scottish Parliament, Nov. 2, 1706, protesting against the Union of England and Scotland. Also found in John Flavel's Faithful and Ancient Account of Some Late and Wonderful Sea Deliverances. Pub. before 1691.
  • I beseech you not to blame me if I be desirous to strike while the iron is hot.
  • Rapiamus, amici,
    Occasionem de die.
    • Let us seize, friends, our opportunity from the day as it passes.
    • Horace, Epodon, XIII. 3.
  • The actual fact is that in this day Opportunity not only knocks at your door but is playing an anvil chorus on every man's door, and then lays for the owner around the corner with a club. The world is in sore need of men who can do things. Indeed, cases can easily be recalled by every one where Opportunity actually smashed in the door and collared her candidate and dragged him forth to success. These cases are exceptional, usually you have to meet Opportunity half-way. But the only place where you can get away from Opportunity is to lie down and die. Opportunity does not trouble dead men, or dead ones who flatter themselves that they are alive.
  • I knock unbidden once at every gate—
    If sleeping, wake—if feasting, rise before
    I turn away—it is the hour of fate,
    And they who follow me reach every state
    Mortals desire, and conquer every foe
    Save death, but those who doubt or hesitate,
    Condemned to failure, penury and woe,
    Seek me in vain and uselessly implore,
    I answer not, and I return no more.
  • They do me wrong who say I come no more,
    When once I knock and fail to find you in;
    For every day I stand outside your door
    And bid you wait, and rise to fight and win.
  • Not by appointment do we meet delight
    Or joy; they heed not our expectancy;
    But round some corner of the streets of life
    They of a sudden greet us with a smile.
  • Nostra sine auxilio fugiunt bona. Carpite florem.
    • Our advantages fly away without aid. Pluck the flower.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, III. 79.
  • Casus ubique valet; semper tibi pendeat hamus.
    Quo minime credas gurgite, piscis erit.
    • Opportunity is ever worth expecting; let your hook be ever hanging ready. The fish will be in the pool where you least imagine it to be.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, Book III. 425.
  • Oh! Who art thou so fast proceeding,
    Ne'er glancing back thine eyes of flame?
    Mark'd but by few, through earth I'm speeding,
    And Opportunity's my name.
    What form is that which scowls beside thee?
    Repentance is the form you see:
    Learn then, the fate may yet betide thee.
    She seizes them who seize not me.
    • Thomas Love Peacock, Love and Opportunity, in Headlong Hall. Imitated from Machiavelli's Capitolo dell' Occasione.
  • He that would not when he might,
    He shall not when he wolda.
  • Occasio prima sui parte comosa, posteriore calva
    Quam si occupasis, teneas elapsum
    Non isse possit Jupiter reprehendre.
    • Opportunity has hair on her forehead, but is bald behind. If you meet her seize her, for once let slip, Jove himself cannot catch her again.
    • Phædrus, Book V. Fable 8. Same idea in Lucan, Pharsalia, Book I, line 513. Also in Rabelais, Gargantua, Book I, Chapter 37.
  • Why hast thou hair upon thy brow?
    To seize me by, when met.
    Why is thy head then bald behind?
    Because men wish in vain,
    When I have run past on wingèd feet
    To catch me e'er again.
    • Posidippus, Epigram 13. In Brunck's ed. of Anthologia, Volume II, p. 49. Imitated by Ausonius, Epigram 12.
  • Occasio ægre offertur, facile amittitur.
    • A good opportunity is seldom presented, and is easily lost.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Deliberando sæpe perit occasio.
    • The opportunity is often lost by deliberating.
    • Syrus, Maxims.
  • Crespe hà le chiome e d'oro,
    E in quella guisa appunto,
    Che Fortuna si pinge
    Ha lunghi e folti in sulla fronte i crini;
    Ma nuda hà poi la testa
    Agli opposti confini.
  • An opportunity well taken is the only weapon of advantage.
  • L'occasion de faire du mal se trouve cent fois par jour, et celle de faire du bien une fois dans l'année.
    • The opportunity for doing mischief is found a hundred times a day, and of doing good once in a year.
    • Voltaire, Zadig.
  • Turning for them who pass, the common dust
    Of servile opportunity to gold.

See also

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