To do all that one is able to do is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do is to be a god.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) Emperor of France
Better is the enemy of good.
—Voltaire (1694–1778) French Philosopher, Author
It is only fools who keep straining at high C all their lives.
—Charles Dudley Warner (1829–1900) American Essayist, Novelist
The chief duty I long to accomplish 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 (1880–1968) American Author
We expect more of ourselves than we have any right to, in virtue of our endowments
—Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809–94) American Physician, Essayist
It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.
—Seneca the Younger (Lucius Annaeus Seneca) (c.4 BCE–65 CE) Roman Stoic Philosopher, Statesman, Tragedian
Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps, for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are and what they ought to be.
—William Hazlitt (1778–1830) English Essayist
To dream too much of the person you would like to be is to waste the person you are.
Life to the great majority is only a constant struggle for mere existence, with the certainty of losing it at last.
—Arthur Schopenhauer (1788–1860) German Philosopher
I have done what I could do in life, and if I could not do better, I did not deserve it. In vain have I tried to step beyond what bound me. Despite my years, I am still trying.
—Maurice Maeterlinck (1862–1949) Belgian Poet, Playwright, Essayist
We do not write as we want, but as we can.
—W. Somerset Maugham (1874–1965) British Novelist, Short-Story Writer, Playwright
There are philosophies which are unendurable not because men are cowards, but because they are men.
—Ludwig Lewisohn (1882–1955) American Novelist, Essayist
Life is not a spectacle or a feast; it is a predicament.
—George Santayana (1863–1952) Spanish-American Poet, Philosopher
Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections, but instantly set about remedying them—every day begin the task anew.
—Francis de Sales (1567–1622) French Catholic Saint
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything; but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.
—Edward Everett Hale (1822–1909) American Unitarian Clergyman, Writer
Half the unhappiness in the world is due to the failure of plans which were never reasonable, and often impossible.
—E. W. Howe (1853–1937) American Novelist, Editor
Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces; marriage is also three meals a day, sharing the workload and remembering to carry out the trash.
—Joyce Brothers (1927–2013) American Psychologist, Advice Columnist
The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one’s work seriously and taking one’s self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.
—Margot Fonteyn (1919–91) English Classical Ballet Dancer
No one has ever loved anyone the way everyone wants to be loved.
—Mignon McLaughlin (1913–83) American Journalist, Author
There is no greater enemy to those who would please than expectation.
—Michel de Montaigne (1533–92) French Essayist
If you aspire to the highest place, it is no disgrace to stop at the second, or even the third, place.
—Cicero (106BCE–43BCE) Roman Philosopher, Orator, Politician, Lawyer
It is enough that I am of value to somebody today.
—Hugh Prather (b.1938) American Christian Author, Minister, Counselor
We cannot all be masters,
nor all masters cannot he truly followed.
—William Shakespeare (1564–1616) British Playwright
The art of living lies not in eliminating but in growing with troubles.
—Bernard M. Baruch (1870–1965) American Financier, Economic Consultant
If you want a place in the sun, you’ve got to put up with a few blisters.
—Pauline Phillips (Abigail van Buren) (b.1918) American Columnist
Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
—Charlotte Bronte (1816–1855) English Novelist, Poet
He who cannot do what he wants must make do with what he can.
—Terence (c.195–159 BCE) Roman Comic Dramatist
May God … let me strive for attainable things.
—Pindar (c.518–c.438 BCE) Greek Lyric Poet
Good is not good, when better is expected.
—Thomas Fuller (1608–61) English Cleric, Historian
There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but boys, it is all hell.
—William Tecumseh Sherman (1820–91) American Military Leader, Businessperson, Educator