Say no to the drug of gradualness. It was Martin Luther King, Jr., who spoke out strongly against making slow changes. Either we risk or we don’t, he said. Either we change or we don’t. There’s no acceptable middle ground because it lulls us into complacency. Lasting changes rarely occur when we ease our way into the future. They come when we leap. The leap themselves can be small or large. Once we take action, we see things differently and for many of us there’s no going back.
—Robert Cooper (b.1947) British Diplomat
If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.
—Laozi (fl.6th Century BCE) Chinese Philosopher, Sage
We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.
—R. D. Laing (1927–89) Scottish Psychiatrist
The world’s a scene of changes, and to be Constant, in Nature were inconstancy.
—Abraham Cowley (1618–67) English Poet, Essayist
A good question is never answered. It is not a bolt to be tightened into place but a seed to be planted and to bear more seed toward the hope of greening the landscape of idea.
—John Ciardi (1916–86) American Poet, Teacher, Etymologist, Translator
Change alone is unchanging.
—Heraclitus (535BCE–475BCE) Ancient Greek Philosopher
It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, that the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones.
—Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527) Florentine Political Philosopher
True consistency, that of the prudent and the wise, is to act in conformity with circumstances, and not to act always the same way under a change of circumstances.
—John C. Calhoun (1782–1850) American Head of State, Politician, Activist
He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery.
—Harold Wilson British Political Leader
Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind. Cultivate poverty like a garden herb, like sage. Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Turn the old; return to them. Things do not change; we change. The very simplicity and nakedness of man’s life in the primitive ages imply this advantage, at least, that they left him still but a sojourner in nature. To be awake is to be alive. Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. Every man is a builder of a temple, called his body, to the god he worships, after a style purely his own, nor can he get off by hammering marble instead. We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man’s features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them. Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.
—Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) American Philosopher
If there is anything we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.
—Carl Gustav Jung (1875–1961) Swiss Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Philosopher
It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.
—W. Edwards Deming (1900–93) American Engineer, Statistician
Changes are not only possible and predictable, but to deny them is to be an accomplice to one’s own unnecessary vegetation.
—Gail Sheehy (1936–2020) American Writer, Journalist
If you have no will to change it, you have no right to criticize it.
A Native American elder once described his own inner struggles in this manner: Inside of me there are two dogs. One of the dogs is mean and evil. The other dog is good. The mean dog fights the good dog all the time. When asked which dog wins, he reflected for a moment and replied, The one I feed the most. On Other Peoples Expectations: The only man who behaved sensibly was my tailor; he took my measurement anew every time he saw me, while all the rest went on with their old measurements and expected them to fit me.
—George Bernard Shaw (1856–1950) Irish Playwright
Don’t fear change—embrace it.
—Anthony J. D’Angelo
I think you will find that people who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves much more rarely than those who try to be “consistent.” But a great many things we say can be made to appear contradictory, simply because they are partial views of a truth, and may often look unlike at first, as a front view of a face and its profile often do.
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
Change is not only likely, it’s inevitable.
—Barbara Sher (1935–2020) American Career Coach
Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.
—Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929–68) American Civil Rights Leader, Clergyman
It is not well to make great changes in old age.
—Charles Spurgeon (1834–92) English Baptist Preacher
Continuity in everything is unpleasant.
—Blaise Pascal (1623–62) French Mathematician, Physicist, Theologian
Just when I think I have learned the way to live, life changes and I am left the same. The more things change the more I am the same. I am what I started with, and when it is all over I will be all that is left of me.
—Hugh Prather (b.1938) American Christian Author, Minister, Counselor
Neither situations nor people can be altered by the interference of an outsider. If they are to be altered, that alteration must come from within.
—Phyllis Bottome (1884–1963) British Novelist, Short Story Writer, Psychoanalysis
Force never moves in a straight line, but always in a curve vast as the universe, and therefore eventually returns whence it issued forth, but upon a higher arc, for the universe has progressed since it started.
—Kabbalah Teaching Jewish Mystical, Theosophical Tradition
Goody-byes breed a sort of distaste for whomever you say good-bye to; this hurts, you feel, this must not happen again.
—Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973) Irish Novelist, Short-story Writer
Life belongs to the living, and he who lives must be prepared for changes.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749–1832) German Poet
All you have to do to change your world is change the way you think about it.
—Susan Jeffers (1938–2012) American Psychologist, Self-Help Author
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
—Nelson Mandela (1918–2013) South African Political leader
The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything or nothing.
—Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor (1879–1964) American-born British Politician
One of the prevailing sources of misery and crime is in the generally accepted assumption, that because things have been wrong a long time, it is impossible they will ever be right.
—John Ruskin (1819–1900) English Writer, Art Critic
But a good patriot, and a true politician, always considers how he shall make the most of the existing materials of his country. A disposition, to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman. Everything else is vulgar in the conception, perilous in the execution.
—Edmund Burke (1729–97) British Philosopher, Statesman
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order. Life refuses to be embalmed alive. The more prolonged the halt in some unrelieved system of order, the greater the crash of the dead society.
—Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) English Mathematician, Philosopher
It is only an error of judgment to make a mistake, but it argues an infirmity of character to adhere to it when discovered. The Chinese say, “The glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time you fall.”
—Christian Nestell Bovee (1820–1904) American Writer, Aphorist
There are those who would misteach us that to stick in a rut is consistency, and a virtue, and that to climb out of the rut is inconsistency, and a vice.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?
—Gloria Steinem (b.1934) American Feminist, Journalist, Social Activist, Political Activist
Time, in the turning-over of days, works change for better or worse.
—Pindar (c.518–c.438 BCE) Greek Lyric Poet
You can’t expect to meet the challenges of today with yesterday’s tools and expect to be in business tomorrow.
Most of us are about as eager to be changed as we were to be born, and go through our changes in a similar state of shock.
—James Baldwin (1924–87) American Novelist, Social Critic
If there is any period one would desire to be born in, is it not the age of Revolution; when the old and the new stand side by side…when the glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities of the new era? This time…is a very good one…
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) American Philosopher
At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope that it can be done, then they see that it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago.
—Frances Hodgson Burnett (1879–1958) British Novelist, Playwright
Everything will change. The only question is growing up or decaying.
—Nikki Giovanni (b.1943) American Poet, Writer, Activist, Educator
Nothing in this world is permanent.
There has never been a time when you and I have not existed, nor will there be a time when we will cease to exist. As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth, and old age, so too at the time of death he attains another body. The wise are not deluded by these changes.
—The Bhagavad Gita Hindu Scripture
All charming people have something to conceal, usually their total dependence on the appreciation of others.
—Cyril Connolly (1903–74) British Literary Critic, Writer
To change and to improve are two different things.
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the service of India and her people and to the still larger cause of humanity.
—Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1964) Indian Head of State
The most powerful thing you can do to change the world is to change your own beliefs about the nature of life, people, and reality to something more positive … and begin to act accordingly.
—Shakti Gawain (b.1948) American Author, Environmentalist
We were not taught financial literacy in school. It takes a lot of work and time to change your thinking and to become financially literate.
—Robert Kiyosaki (b.1947) American Businessperson, Author, Motivational Speaker
We must beware of needless innovations, especially when guided by logic.
—Winston Churchill (1874–1965) British Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Journalist, Author
Let the great world spin for ever down the ringing grooves of change.
—Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–92) British Poet