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People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success. – Norman Vincent Peale
Nothing comes easy. Nothing is given to you. Whatever you do, you've got to work for it and earn it. Whatever reward you get you've go to know that you've had your input into that success. There's no substitute for hard work. And if you want to be well known or well liked, you have to put yourself out for people. ~ Jack Charlton
What do I think of success? It sucks; too much stress. ~ Marshall Bruce Mathers III

Success is a term denoting the achievement of aims or attainment of goals, or levels of social status, and is often used specifically to mean financial profitability. People who achieve their goals are frequently termed "successes".


  • 'Tis not in mortals to command success,
    But we'll do more, Sempronius,—
    We'll deserve it.
  • Obedience is the mother of success, and success the parent of salvation.
    • Aeschylus (525-456 B.C.), Greek tragedian. The Seven Against Thebes, l. 224.
  • Success is full of promise till men get it; and then it is last year's nest from which the bird has flown.
    • Henry Ward Beecher, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 567.
  • I don't think that success has got anything to do with money — money for me isn't a way of keeping the score, so that's what it isn't.
    • Martin Bell, English war reporter and journalist. From his interview with Martyn Lewis, as recorded in his book, Reflections on Success (1997).
  • Sometimes when I am alone in my beautiful apartments, brooding over these things and nursing my loneliness, I say to myself: "There are cases when success is a tragedy." There are moments when I regret my whole career, when my very success seems to be a mistake. I think that I was born for a life of intellectual interest. I was certainly brought up for one. The day when that accident turned my mind from college to business seems to be the most unfortunate day in my life. I think that I should be much happier as a scientist or writer, perhaps. I should then be in my natural element, and if I were doomed to loneliness I should have comforts to which I am now a stranger. That's the way I feel every time I pass the abandoned old building of the City College. The business world contains plenty of successful men who have no brains. Why, then, should I ascribe my triumph to special ability?
  • If we choose to see the obstacles in our path as barriers, we stop trying. If we choose to see the obstacles as hurdles, we can leap over them. Successful people don't have fewer problems. The have determined that nothing will stop them from going forward.
    • Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, p. 232.
  • What is important – what I consider success – is that we make a contribution to our world.
  • There are always obstacles and competitors. There is never an open road, except the wide road that leads to failure. Every great success has always been achieved by fight. Every winner has scars. The men who succeed are the efficient few. They are the few who have the ambition and will power to develop themselves.
  • Nothing comes easy. Nothing is given to you. Whatever you do, you've got to work for it and earn it. Whatever reward you get you've go to know that you've had your input into that success. There's no substitute for hard work. And if you want to be well known or well liked, you have to put yourself out for people.
    • Jack Charlton, British football manager. From his interview with Martyn Lewis, in his book, Reflections on Success (1997).
  • If you believe you're a success, crikey, I should think it will come up and get you by the...tail.
    • Dame Judy Dench, British actress. From her interview with Martyn Lewis, in his book, Reflections on Success (1997).
  • We cannot say what brings us success. We can only pin down what blocks or obliterates success. Eliminate the downside, the thinking errors, and the upside will take care of itself. This is all we need to know.
    • Rolf Dobelli, The art of thinking clearly (2013).
  • I fear the popular notion of success stands in direct opposition in all points to the real and wholesome success. One adores public opinion, the other, private opinion; one, fame, the other, desert; one, feats, the other, humility; one, lucre, the other, love; one, monopoly, and the other, hospitality of mind.
  • The compensation of a very early success is a conviction that life is a romantic matter. In the best sense one stays young.
    • F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940), American author. 'Early Success', an essay first published in American Cavalcade (Oct. 1937), The Crack-Up, edited by Edmund Wilson (1945).
  • Nothing recedes like success.
    • Bryan Forbes, British author, actor, filmmaker. As quoted in the Observer (UK) newspaper (19th Dec. 1971).
  • Somebody said it couldn't be done,
    But he with a chuckle replied
    That "maybe it couldn't," but he would be one
    Who wouldn't say so till he'd tried.
    So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    On his face. If he worried he hid it.
    He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn't be done, and he did it.
    • Edgar A. Guest, "It Couldn't Be Done," stanza 1, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest (1934), p. 285.
  • My definition of success is doing what you love. I feel many people do things because they feel they have to, and are hesitant to risk following their passion.
    • Tony Hawk, American businessman, entrepreneur, skateboard pro. Interviewed by Gary Cohn for Entrepreneur Magazine (October 2009).
  • 'Tis a lesson you should heed,
    Try, try again.
    If at first you don't succeed,
    Try, try again.
  • No weapon formed against you will have any success.
  • For me success was always going to be a Lamborghini. But now I've got it, it just sits on my drive.
    • Curtis Jackson [50 Cent], American Rapper. From his interview with Louis Gannon for Live magazine, The Mail on Sunday (UK) newspaper, (25 October 2009).
  • Achieving success is an unquantifiable notion – indeed, success carries with it an aura of money and power, and things like that, which – certainly for me – would be detrimental.
    • Sir Cameron Mackintosh, British theatre producer and businessman. From his interview with Martyn Lewis in Lewis' book, Reflections on Success (1997).
  • What do I think of success? It sucks; too much stress.
  • I've had marvellous and incredible luck, and devoted parents, sisters, friends, and teachers. What more can one ask? These things contribute enormously. Probably the major part of one's success is due to these factors.
    • Yehudi Menuhin, as stated in his interview with Martyn Lewis in Lewis' book, Reflections on Success (1997)

No weapon formed against you will have any success, And you will condemn any tongue that rises up against you in the judgment. Isaiah 54ː17

  • Is the proposed operation likely to succeed? What might be the consequences of failure? Is it in the realm of practicability in terms of matériel and supplies?
    • Chester W. Nimitz, Life (July 10, 1944), p. 84. Nimitz described these as "three favorite rules of thumb which … he has printed on a card he keeps on his desk".
  • People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. When they believe in themselves they have the first secret of success.
    • Norman Vincent Peale, Positive Thinking Every Day : An Inspiration for Each Day of the Year (1993), "April 13"
    • Earlier variant: People become really quite remarkable when they start thinking that they can do things. And those who have learned to have a realistic, nonegotistical belief in themselves, who possess a deep and sound self-confidence, are assets to mankind, too, for they transmit their dynamic quality to those lacking it.
    • ‪You Can If You Think You Can‬ (1987), p. 84.
  • Perioderna av framgång är mer riskfyllda än andra har jag alltid tyckt. Går allting helt enligt ritningarna riskerar man att farten blir allt för hög. Projekten enorma, och självförtroendet väl stort. Är tiderna goda finns alltid alternativ. Då finns risk att man väljer fel. I dåliga tider är det däremot inte särskilt svårt att inse vad som behöver göras.
    • Times of success are more perilous than others, has always been my opinion. If everything entirely goes according to the schemes the speed risk becoming too fast. The projects become enormous, and the self confidence too big. If the times are good there are always options. Then you risk choosing wrong. However, in bad times it is not particulary hard to realize what needs to be done.
      • Göran Persson, prime minister of Sweden 1996-2006, Min väg, mina val (2007).
  • Success is whatever humiliation everyone has agreed to compete for.
  • There are a lot of dark sides to success, but the light side of it is the ability to be opportunistic, and to be able to do things.
    • Anita Roddick, British businesswoman. From her interview with Martyn Lewis, as recorded in his book, Reflections on Success (1997).
  • It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood: who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
  • Failure makes success so much sweeter, and allows you to thumb your nose at the crowds.
    • Wilbur Smith. 'The Secrets of My Success', an interview for Live magazine, the Mail on Sunday (UK) newspaper, December 5 2010.
  • To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 759-62.
  • Médiocre et rampant, et l'on arrive à tout.
  • That low man seeks a little thing to do,
    Sees it and does it:
    This high man with a great thing to pursue,
    Dies ere he knows it.

    That low man goes on adding one to one,
    His hundred's soon hit:
    This high man, aiming at a million,
    Misses an unit.
  • Better have failed in the high aim, as I,
    Than vulgarly in the low aim succeed
    As, God be thanked! I do not.
  • We are the doubles of those whose way
    Was festal with fruits and flowers;
    Body and brain we were sound as they,
    But the prizes were not ours.
  • They never fail who die
    In a great cause.
  • Be it jewel or toy,
    Not the prize gives the joy,
    But the striving to win the prize.
  • Now, by St. Paul, the work goes bravely on.
  • Hast thou not learn'd what thou art often told,
    A truth still sacred, and believed of old,
    That no success attends on spears and swords
    Unblest, and that the battle is the Lord's?
  • One never rises so high as when one does not know where one is going.
  • Th' aspirer, once attain'd unto the top,
    Cuts off those means by which himself got up.
  • Three men, together riding,
    Can win new worlds at their will;
    Resolute, ne'er dividing,
    Lead, and be victors still.
    Three can laugh and doom a king,
    Three can make the planets sing.
  • Success is counted sweetest
    By those who ne'er succeed.
  • Rien ne réussit comme le succès.
    • Nothing succeeds like success.
    • Alexandre Dumas, Ange Pitou, Volume I, p. 72.
  • The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong.
    • Ecclesiastes, IX. 11.
  • If the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will come round to him.
  • If a man has good corn, or wood, or boards, or pigs to sell, or can make better chairs or knives, crucibles, or church organs, than anybody else, you will find a broad, hard-beaten road to his house, tho it be in the woods. And if a man knows the law, people will find it out, tho he live in a pine shanty, and resort to him. And if a man can pipe or sing, so as to wrap the prisoned soul in an elysium; or can paint landscape, and convey into oils and ochers all the enchantments of spring or autumn; or can liberate or intoxicate all people who hear him with delicious songs and verses, 'tis certain that the secret can not be kept: the first witness tells it to a second, and men go by fives and tens and fifties to his door.
  • If a man write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mouse-trap than his neighbor, tho he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
    • Mrs. Sarah S. B. Yule credits the quotation to Emerson in her Borrowings (1889), asserting that she copied this in her handbook from a lecture delivered by Emerson. The "mouse-trap" quotation was the occasion of a long controversy, owing to Elbert Hubbard's claim to its authorship. This was asserted by him in a conversation with S. Wilbur Corman, of N. W. Ayer & Son, Philadelphia, and in a letter to Dr. Frank H. Vizetelly, Managing Editor of the Standard Dictionary. In The Literary Digest for May 15, 1915, "The Lexicographer" reaffirmed his earlier finding, "Mr. Hubbard is the author".
  • Born for success, he seemed
    With grace to win, with heart to hold,
    With shining gifts that took all eyes.
  • If you wish in this world to advance,
    Your merits you're bound to enhance;
    You must stir it and stump it,
    And blow your own trumpet,
    Or trust me, you haven't a chance.
  • Successfully to accomplish any task it is necessary not only that you should give it the best there is in you, but that you should obtain for it the best there is in those under your guidance.
    • George W. Goethals. In the Nat. Assoc. of Corporation Schools Bulletin. Feb., 1918.
  • Die That ist alles, nichts der Ruhm.
  • Ja, meine Liebe, wer lebt, verliert * * * aber er gewinnt auch.
  • Ha sempre dimostrato l'esperienza, e lo dimostra la ragione, che mai succedono bene le cose che dipendono da molti.
    • Experience has always shown, and reason also, that affairs which depend on many seldom succeed.
    • Francesco Guicciardini, Storia d'Italia (1537-1540).
  • Like the British Constitution, she owes her success in practice to her inconsistencies in principle.
  • Sink not in spirit; who aimeth at the sky
    Shoots higher much than he that means a tree.
  • Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci.
    • He has carried every point, who has mingled the useful with the agreeable.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (18 BC), 343.
  • Quid te exempta juvat spinis e pluribus una.
    • What does it avail you, if of many thorns only one be removed?
    • Horace, Epistles, II. 2. 212.
  • Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain;
    "Think nothing gain'd," he cries, "till naught remain."
  • When the shore is won at last,
    Who will count the billows past?
    • John Keble, Christian Year, Stanza John the Evangelist's Day, Stanza 5.
  • Il n'y a au monde que deux manières de s'élever, ou par sa propre industrie, ou par l'imbécilitè des autres.
    • There are but two ways of rising in the world: either by one's own industry or profiting by the foolishness of others.
    • Jean de La Bruyère, Les Caractères, VI.
  • Rien ne sert de courir: il faut partir à point.
    • To win a race, the swiftness of a dart
      Availeth not without a timely start.
    • Jean de La Fontaine, Fables, VI. 10.
  • Facile est ventis dare vela secundis,
    Fecundumque solum varias agitare per artes,
    Auroque atque ebori decus addere, cum rudis ipsa
    Materies niteat.
    • It is easy to spread the sails to propitious winds, and to cultivate in different ways a rich soil, and to give lustre to gold and ivory, when the very raw material itself shines.
    • Marcus Manilius, Astronomica, 3.
  • Tametsi prosperitas simul utilitasque consultorum non obique concordent, quoniam captorum eventus superæ sibi vindicant potestates.
    • Yet the success of plans and the advantage to be derived from them do not at all times agree, seeing the gods claim to themselves the right to decide as to the final result.
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Annales, XXV. 3.
  • In tauros Libyci ruunt leones;
    Non sunt papilionibus molesti.
    • The African lions rush to attack bulls; they do not attack butterflies.
    • Martial, Epigrams (c. 80-104 AD), Book XII. 62. 5.
  • J'ai toujours vu que, pour réussir dans le monde, il fallait avoir l'air fou et être sage.
  • Le succès de la plupart des choses dépend de savoir combien il faut de temps pour réussir.
    • The success of most things depends upon knowing how long it will take to succeed.
    • Charles de Montesquieu, Pensées Diverses.
  • How far high failure overleaps the bound
    Of low successes.
  • Aut non tentaris, aut perfice.
    • Either do not attempt at all, or go through with it.
    • Ovid, Ars Amatoria, Book I. 389.
  • Acer et ad palmæ per se cursurus honores,
    Si tamen horteris fortius ibit equus.
    • The spirited horse, which will of itself strive to beat in the race, will run still more swiftly if encouraged.
    • Ovid, Epistolæ Ex Ponto, II. 11. 21.
  • A man can't be hid. He may be a pedler in the mountains, but the world will find him out to make him a king of finance. He may be carrying cabbages from Long Island, when the world will demand that he shall run the railways of a continent. He may be a groceryman on the canal, when the country shall come to him and put him in his career of usefulness. So that there comes a time finally when all the green barrels of petroleum in the land suggest but two names and one great company.
    • Dr. John Paxton, sermon, He Could not be Hid (Aug. 25, 1889). Extract from The Sun (Aug. 26, 1889).
  • He that will not stoop for a pin will never be worth a pound.
    • Pepys, Diary (Jan. 3, 1668). Quoted as a proverb by Sir W. Coventry to Charles II.
  • Successus improborum plures allicit.
    • The success of the wicked entices many more.
    • Phaedrus, Fables, II. 3. 7.
  • Sperat quidem animus: quo eveniat, diis in manu est.
    • The mind is hopeful; success is in God's hands.
    • Plautus, Bacchides, I. 2. 36.
  • It may well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which human ingenuity may not, by proper application resolve.
  • Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
    Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
  • In medio spatio mediocria firma locantur.
    • It is best for man not to seek to climb too high, lest he fall.
    • Free rendering of the Latin by Lord Chief Justice Popham in sentencing Raleigh to death, quoting Nicholas Bacon.
  • Promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.
    • Psalms. LXXV. 6.
  • Qui bien chante et bien danse fait un métier qui peu avance.
  • He that climbs the tall tree has won right to the fruit,
    He that leaps the wide gulf should prevail in his suit.
  • Honesta quædam scelera successus facit.
  • Success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.
    • Michelle Obama Speech at Democratic National Convention, September 4, 2012.
  • Ye gods, it doth amaze me,
    A man of such a feeble temper should
    So get the start of the majestic world,
    And bear the palm alone.
  • A great devotee of the Gospel of Getting On.
  • Have I caught my heav'nly jewel.
    • Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella, Song II. Merry Wives of Windsor, Act III, scene 3, line 45.
  • Who shootes at the midday Sunne, though he be sure, he shall never hit the marke; yet as sure he is, he shall shoot higher than who ayms but at a bush.
    • Sir Philip Sidney, Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, p. 118. (Ed. 1638).
  • And he gave it for his opinion, that whoever could make two ears of corn, or two blades of grass, to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
    • Jonathan Swift, Gulliver's Travels, Voyage to Brobdingnag, Part II, Chapter VII.
  • There may come a day
    Which crowns Desire with gift, and Art with truth,
    And Love with bliss, and Life with wiser youth!
  • You might have painted that picture,
    I might have written that song;
    Not ours, but another's the triumph,
    'Tis done and well done — so 'long!
  • Not to the swift, the race:
    Not to the strong, the fight:
    Not to the righteous, perfect grace:
    Not to the wise, the light.
  • (He) set his heart upon the goal,
    Not on the prize.
    • William Watson, Tribute to Matthew Arnold, Spectator (Aug. 30, 1890).
  • Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
    And looks to that alone;
    Laughs at impossibilities,
    And cries it shall be done.

Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989)[edit]

  • The road to success is filled with women pushing their husbands along.
    • Attributed to Lord Thomas R. Dewar. The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 10th ed., p. 1263 (1967). Reported as unverified in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations (1989).
  • I have climbed to the top of the greasy pole!
    • Benjamin Disraeli, remark to a friend after being named prime minister. Sir William Fraser, Disraeli and His Day, 2d ed., p. 52 (1891).
  • The secret of success is constancy of purpose.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, speech at banquet of National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations, Crystal Palace, London, June 24, 1872. Selected Speeches of the Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield, ed. T. E. Kebbel, vol. 2, p. 535 (1882).
  • If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbor, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.
    • Attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson by Sarah B. Yule, Borrowings, p. 138 (1889). While this sentence has never been found in Emerson's works, he is believed to have used it in a lecture either at San Francisco or Oakland, California, in 1871. Borrowings was an anthology compiled by women of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, and Sarah Yule contributed this sentence, which she had copied from an address years before. There has been some controversy because others, including Elbert Hubbard, have claimed authorship. See The Home Book of Quotations, ed. Burton Stevenson, 10th ed., p. 630, 2275 (1967).
  • But I like not these great successes of yours; for I know how jealous are the gods.
    • Herodotus, Herodotus, trans. A. D. Godley, vol. 2, book 3, paragraph 40, p. 53, 55 (1928). Excerpt from a letter from Amasis to Polycrates.
  • Even on the most exalted throne in the world we are only sitting on our own bottom.
    • Michel de Montaigne, The Essays of Michel de Montaigne, trans. Jacob Zeitlin, vol. 3, p. 317 (1936). His essays were first published in 1580. The translation of "Et au plus eslevé throne du monde, si ne sommes assis que sus nôstre cul varies in other editions.
  • There is only one success … to be able to spend your life in your own way, and not to give others absurd maddening claims upon it.
  • Success is the necessary misfortune of life, but it is only to the very unfortunate that it comes early.
    • Anthony Trollope, Orley Farm, chapter 49, p. 438–39 (1950). First published in 1862.
  • We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.
    • Author unknown. Attributed to Henry David Thoreau, but not found in his works.

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