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Quotations on Action

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You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.

~ Unknown

Action speak louder than words.

~ Unknown

Only people who do things get criticized.

~ Unknown

He who waits for roast duck to fly into his mouth must wait a very, very long time.

~ Unknown

- Chinese proverb

Your food is close to your stomach, but you must put it in your mouth first.

~ Unknown

- West African saying

When the snake is in the house, one need not discuss the matter at length.

~ Unknown

- West African saying


Anything that happens happens, anything that in happening causes something else to happen causes something else to happen, and anything that in happening causes itself to happen again, happens again. Although not necessarily in chronological order.

~ Douglas Adams

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent in doing nothing.

~ George Bernard Shaw

You don't learn to hold your own in the world by standing on guard, but by attacking and getting well hammered yourself.

~ George Bernard Shaw

He who refuses to embrace a unique opportunity loses the prize as surely as if he had tried and failed.

~ William James

We have petitioned and our petitions have been disregarded; we have entreated and our entreaties have been scorned. We beg no more, we petition no longer, we now defy.

~ William Jennings Bryan

The basis of action is lack of imagination. It is the last resource of those who know not how to dream.

~ Oscar Wilde

Too bad that all the people who really know how to run the country are busy driving taxi cabs and cutting hair.

~ George Burns

I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.

~ Helen Keller

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.

~ Helen Keller

Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.

~ Anaďs Nin

The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.

~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

It is better to be making the news than taking it; to be an actor rather than a critic.

~ Winston Churchill

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

~ Elbert Hubbard

Positive anything is better than negative nothing.

~ Elbert Hubbard

Be not simply good; be good for something.

~ Henry David Thoreau

Besides the noble art of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.

~ Lin Yutang

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problems.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Indolence is a delightful but distressing state; we must be doing something to be happy. Action is no less necessary than thought to the instinctive tendencies of the human frame.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

It is the mark of a good action that it appears inevitable in retrospect.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done 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, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows 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.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

- From a speech given in Paris at the Sorbonne in 1910

I'm a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.

~ Thomas Jefferson

Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.

~ Aristotle

We become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate action, brave by performing brave actions.

~ Aristotle

- Nicomachean Ethics, 4th cent. B.C.

Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.

~ H.L. Mencken

Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheeplike passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving.

~ John Dewey

Arriving at one point is the starting point to another.

~ John Dewey

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

~ John F. Kennedy

The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.

~ Noam Chomsky

Do not believe that possibly you can escape the reward of your action.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Skill to do comes of doing.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Good thoughts are no better than good dreams, unless they be executed.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ancestor of every action is a thought.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Do not say things. What you are stands over you the while, and thunders, so that I cannot hear what you say to the contrary.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is the duty of men to judge men only by their actions. Our faculties furnish us with no means of arriving at the motive, the character, the secret self. We call the tree good from its fruits, and the man, from his works.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

- sermon, October 15, 1826

Be as beneficent as the sun or the sea, but if your rights as a rational being are trenched on, die on the first inch of your territory.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thought is the blossom; language the bud; action the fruit behind it.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you don't like the way the world is, you change it. You have an obligation to change it You just do it one step at a time.

~ Marian Wright Edelman

It's time for greatness -- not for greed. It's a time for idealism -- not ideology. It is a time not just for compassionate words, but compassionate action.

~ Marian Wright Edelman

A lot of people are waiting for Martin Luther King or Mahatma Gandhi to come back -- but they are gone. We are it. It is up to us. It is up to you.

~ Marian Wright Edelman

We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.

~ Marian Wright Edelman

You really can change the world if you care enough.

~ Marian Wright Edelman

The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~ Albert Einstein

A person may cause evil to others not only by his action but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury.

~ John Stuart Mill

Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.

~ Alexander Pope

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement.

~ Alfred Adler

We cannot think first and act afterward. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action, and can only fitfully guide it by taking thought.

~ Alfred North Whitehead

Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.

~ Alfred North Whitehead

To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.

~ Anatole France

It is by acts and not by ideas that people live.

~ Anatole France

Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice.

~ Arnold Joseph Toynbee

Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

~ Edmund Burke

You must do the things you think you cannot do.

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.

~ Epictetus

In a word, neither death, nor exile, nor pain, nor anything of this kind is the real cause of our doing or not doing any action, but our inward opinions and principles.

~ Epictetus

Never mistake motion for action.

~ Ernest Hemingway

I prayed for twenty years but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.

~ Frederick Douglass

Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.

~ Frederick Douglass

The most solid comfort one can fall back upon is the thought that the business of one's life is to help in some small way to reduce the sum of ignorance, degradation and misery on the face of this beautiful earth.

~ George Eliot

Nature knows no pause in progress and development, and attaches her curse on all inaction.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Quite often, as life goes on, when we feel completely secure as we go on our way, we suddenly notice that we are trapped in error, that we have allowed ourselves to be taken in by individuals, by objects, have dreamt up an affinity with them which immediately vanishes before our waking eye; and yet we cannot tear ourselves away, held fast by some power that seems incomprehensible to us. Sometimes, however, we become fully aware and realize that error as well as truth can move and spur us on to action. Now because action is always a decisive factor, something really good can result from an active error, because the effect of all that has been done reaches out into infinity. So although creative action is certainly always best, destroying what has been done is also not without happy consequence.

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Knowing is not enough; we must apply!

~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.

~ Herman Melville

I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.

~ John Locke

The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.

~ John Locke

Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.

~ John Wesley

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.

~ Leo Tolstoy

Never doubt that a small, group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

~ Margaret Mead

If you want anything said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.

~ Margaret Thatcher

It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.

~ Moliere

Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -- but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Consciously or unconsciously we all strive to make the kind of a world we like.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars, nor great scholars great men.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

When good people in any country cease their vigilance and struggle, then evil men prevail.

~ Pearl S. Buck

The young do not know enough to be prudent, and therefore they attempt the impossible - and achieve it, generation after generation.

~ Pearl S. Buck

You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.

~ Pearl S. Buck

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.
Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history;
Therefore, we are saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone.
Therefore, we are saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite a virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own;
Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

~ Reinhold Niebuhr

Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts. And never hope more than you work.

~ Rita Mae Brown

Few will have the greatness to bend history itself; but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.

~ Robert F. Kennedy

The world is filled with willing people; some willing to work, the rest willing to let them.

~ Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.

~ Robert Frost

- A Servant to Servants, 1914

Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing: -- "Oh, how beautiful!" and sitting in the shade.

~ Rudyard Kipling

Instead of saying that man is the creature of circumstance, it would be nearer the mark to say that man is the architect of circumstance.

~ Thomas Carlyle

Our grand business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.

~ Thomas Carlyle

The great end of life is not knowledge but action.

~ Thomas H. Huxley

Do, or do not. There is no try.

~ Yoda

Actions lie louder than words.

~ Carolyn Wells

Mark this well, you proud men of action! You are, after all, nothing but unconscious instruments of the men of thought.

~ Heinrich Heine

There are basically two types of people. People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things. The first group is less crowded.

~ Mark Twain

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.

~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.

~ G.K. Chesterton

One must act in painting as in life, directly.

~ Pablo Picasso

Thought and theory must precede all salutary action; yet action is nobler in itself than either thought or theory.

~ William Wordsworth

He who desires but acts not breeds pestilence.

~ William Blake

- The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, 1790-93

Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.

~ Ras Tafari

Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing.

~ Thomas A. Edison

Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.

~ Thomas A. Edison

Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

~ Will Rogers

Good actions ennoble us, and we are the sons of our own deeds.

~ Miguel de Cervantes

The world can only be grasped by action, not by contemplation. The hand is more important than the eye.

~ Jacob Bronowski

- The Ascent of Man, 1973

Action is eloquence.

~ William Shakespeare

- Coriolanus, III, ii

Things won are done, joy's soul lies in the doing.

~ William Shakespeare

Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only.

~ The Bible

- James 1:22

It is difficult to keep quiet if you have nothing to do.

~ Arthur Schopenhauer

No one is more liable to make mistakes that the man who acts only on reflection.

~ Luc de Clapiers de Vauvenargues

The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.

~ Paul Valéry

Be willing to make decisions. That's the most important quality in a good leader. Don't fall victim to what I call the "ready-aim-aim-aim-aim syndrome." You must we willing to fire.

~ T. Boone Pickens

An artist is a man of action, whether he creates a personality, invents an expedient, or finds the issue of a complicated situation.

~ Joseph Conrad

A man who has to be convinced to act before he acts is not a man of action...You must act as you breathe.

~ Georges Clemenceau

When a man asks himself what is meant by action he proves that he isn't a man of action. Action is a lack of balance. In order to act you must be somewhat insane. A reasonably sensible man is satisfied with thinking.

~ Georges Clemenceau

Everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it.

~ Charles Dudley Warner

Don't just do something, stand there.

~ Daniel Berrigan

- on the importance of thought as well as action during the 1960's war protests

Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind.

~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Talk without effort is nothing.

~ Maria W. Stewart

Violence of language leads to violence of action. Angry men seldom fight if their tongues do not lead the fray.

~ Charles Victor Roman

Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or betray it.

~ Frantz Fanon

Always behave like a duck - keep calm and unruffled on the surface but paddle like the devil underneath.

~ Lord Barbizon

If you are not part of the solution, your are part of the problem.

~ Eldridge Cleaver

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

Let us not be content to wait and see what will happen, but give us the determination to make the right things happen.

~ Peter Marshall

Give me the ready hand rather than the ready tongue.

~ Giuseppe Garibaldi

Action to be effective must be directed to clearly conceived ends.

~ Jawaharlal Nehru

Let us develop the resources of our land, call forth its powers, build up its institutions, promote all its great interests, and see whether we also, in our day and generation, may not perform something worthy to be remembered.

~ Daniel Webster

Think like a man of action and act like a man of thought.

~ Henri Bergson

The wise man does at once what the fool does finally.

~ Baltasar Graciánn Baltasar

As I grow older, I pay less attention to what men say. I just watch what they do.

~ Andrew Carnegie

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