June 26, 2014

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”


THE FAMOUS COACHES’ QUOTE:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” 
       A saying popularized by American football coaches Red Sanders and Vince Lombardi
       There has been a longstanding debate over whether this saying was used first by UCLA football coach Henry “Red” Sanders or Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. According to the authoritative reference book
The Quote Verifier by Ralph Keyes and other sources, Sanders probably said it first in 1950. However, Lombardi also used the saying and is the coach most often associated with it. 



THE WORLD CUP COROLLARY:

“Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is. The World Cup athletes have a ‘Whatever it takes’ attitude. They've made the decision to pay any price and bear any burden in the name of victory.”
      
Steve Siebold
       Author, blogger, Huffington Post columnist and “
expert in the field of critical thinking and mental toughness training”
       In
a June 2014 post about “Why Your Employees Should Watch the World Cup.”


A RACER’S VIEWPOINT:

“Winning is everything. The only ones who remember you when you come second are your wife and your dog.”
       Damon Hill
       British race car driver
       Quoted
in the London Sunday Times, December 18, 1994


A POLITICIAN’S VIEWPOINT:

“Winning may not be everything, but losing has little to recommend it.”
       Dianne Feinstein
       U.S. Senator for California
       Quoted in
Women Know Everything (2007) and other books


A PHILOSOPHY PROFESSOR’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“When winning is everything, then other values such as fair play, honesty, and human compassion are all thrown out in the face of  winning.”
       Michael Boylan
       Professor of philosophy at Marymount University (Arlington, Virginia)
       In his book
A Just Society (2004)


J-MO’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Don’t we get enough ‘Winning Is Everything’ bullshit thrown at us from a zillion other sources? Are we really surprised that kids wind up on Lexapro at age 18 when they inevitably learn the Real-Life Lesson that you just can’t win all the time?” 
       Online journalist J-Mo
      
In a post on the TrashTalkTV site about the win-lose mentality of many reality TV shows, like Top Chef.


THE LOVE HANDLES COUNTERQUOTE:

“Losing is everything. Whoever said winning is everything never tried to lose their love handles.”
       Headline in an ad for
NordicTrack (1994)

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Related reading…

June 19, 2014

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – from Bert Lance and Burger King to Dilbert and beyond…



THE PROVERBIAL AXIOM:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
      
Bert Lance (1931-2013)
       American banker and political advisor to President Jimmy Carter
       This was
already a proverbial saying in the Southern U.S. and maybe elsewhere before Lance adopted it as one of his own favorite quips. But Lance is widely credited with popularizing the saying and making it a national catchphrase. It’s a pithy way of expressing the belief that if some thing or policy is working adequately, it makes no sense — and may be unwise — to try to change or improve it. Lance was a top advisor to Jimmy Carter during the 1976 presidential campaign and served as Carter’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget from January 1977 until he was forced to resign in September 1977, due to allegations of past banking improprieties. During that time, Lance’s use of the “If it ain’t broke…” saying was quoted in many news stories and articles and is still cited in many books about politics and quotations.



THE BURGER KING EXAMPLE:

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Right? Well, Burger King didn’t get the memo. They’ve decided to flip their 40-year-old slogan. The days of ‘Have It Your Way’ will soon be a thing of the past. Their new slogan ‘Be Your Way’ kicks off this month. What the heck does that even mean?”
       A May 2014 article on NewsFixNow.com about the fast food chain’s puzzling new advertising slogan

 



ADVICE FOR REAL WORLD DILBERTS:

“Remember: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!" But if it is ‘broke’ or if the current operation is not optimum, make changes and additions for an improved operation that complies with ISO 9000 standards.”
       Quoted
in The American Society for Quality Control’s 49th Annual Quality Congress Proceedings (1995)



THE “MIRACLE ON THE HUDSON” VERSION:

“If it is broke, you’ve got nothing to lose from trying.”
      
William Langewiesche
       American journalist and book author 
       In his book Fly by Wire: The Geese, the Glide, the Miracle on the Hudson (2009)
      
Langewiesche cited this as the philosophy adopted by pilot Chesley Sullenberger and first officer Jeffrey Skiles, who saved the lives of 155 passengers and crew members by successfully “landing” U.S. Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River in January 2009 after it was disabled in a collision with flying geese.



THE SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLE VERSION:

“There are still many, many people who aren’t willing to listen to mounting evidence about environmental dysfunction. Their mantra is, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ but mine is, ‘If it ain’t fixable, don’t break it.’”
      
David Wann
       American author, filmmaker and advocate of “sustainable lifestyles”
      
An excerpt from his book Simple Prosperity: Finding Real Wealth in a Sustainable Lifestyle (2007)



ADVICE FOR HUSBANDS WILLING TO RISK THEIR WIFE’S WRATH:

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it and if it is broke wiggle your way out of fixing it.”
      
Quoted in the book Never Hang Wallpaper With Your Wife (2006) 
       A guide to “decorating and renovating from a guy’s point of view,” written by William S. Peckham and Michael C. Hammar

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related reading: books of quotations about politics and government…

June 10, 2014

Genius is one percent inspiration – or maybe two…


THE FAMOUS EDISON QUOTE (THAT HE MAY NOT HAVE SAID):

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
       Attributed to
Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931)
       American inventor and businessman 
       This well-known witticism (often given without the word “and” after “inspiration”) is traditionally credited to Thomas Edison. He did say some things like it. But those exact words do not appear in his writings or in his recorded speeches or interviews. The first mention of a definition of genius by Edison is in an article about him in
the April 1898 issue of the Ladies Home Journal. A paragraph in that article says:
       “Once, when asked to give his definition of genius, Mr. Edison replied: ‘Two per cent is genius and ninety-eight per cent is hard work.’ At another time, when the argument that genius was inspiration was brought before him, he said: ‘Bah! Genius is not inspired. Inspiration is perspiration.’” 
       An article
in a 1902 issue of Scientific American claimed that Edison once remarked: “Genius is 2 percent inspiration and 98 percent perspiration,” but it gave no source for the quote. That 2%/98% definition was also mentioned in a 1908 biography of Edison and a 1911 article in Chamber’s Journal — without providing any information on when Edison supposedly said it. Then in 1932, a year after Edison died, an article Harper's Monthly Magazine noted that sometime around 1902 or 1903 Edison said: “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” No source for the quote was given by Harper’s. However, this version became legendary and is cited by many books and websites (often giving Harper’s Monthly Magazine as the source).


THE **** HAPPENS VERSION:

“Life is one percent what happens to you, and ninety-nine percent how you respond to it.”
       Shubhra Krishan
       Indian born American journalist, author and holistic health advocate
       In her book Essential Ayurveda (2003). Quoting something she’d read.


JOHN GARDNER’S COUNTERQUOTE:

“Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent obdurate stupidity.”
      
John C. Gardner (1933-1982)
       American scholar and novelist 
       A line attributed to a fictional writer in Gardner’s novel Stillness and Shadows (1986)


THE SEX AND CRIME VARIATION:

“Sex is like crime. Only one percent motivation and ninety-nine percent opportunity.”
      
Len Deighton  
       British novelist and historian
       In his novel Mexico Set (1985)


THE ASSASSINATION VARIATION:

“Assassination is one percent shooting, ninety-nine percent preparation.” 
      
Jeffrey Donovan (as former spy Michael Westen)
       In the
“False Flag” episode of Burn Notice (Season 1, Ep. 10)


THE BUSINESS SUCCESS VARIATION:

“Succeeding in this business is ninety-nine percent perseverance and one percent talent. Congratulations, gentlemen, you’re ninety-nine percent of the way there.”  
      
Bob Balaban (as the character Arthur Planck)
       In the movie Dedication (2007)

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Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotes Facebook page.

Related reading and viewing…

June 1, 2014

Measuring out life with coffee spoons (and various other things)…


T.S. ELIOT’S FAMOUS LINE:

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.”
      
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
       American-born British poet 
       This is one of the most quoted lines from Eliot’s early poem
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” first published in the June 1, 1915 edition of Poetry magazine. It is sometimes misquoted as “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.” Initial critical reception of the poem was mixed. But it launched Eliot’s career as a poet and gave him initial visibility that grew to worldwide fame with publication of his other early masterpieces of modernist verse: “Gerontion” (1920), “The Waste Land” (1922) and “The Hollow Men” (1925). “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” was included in Eliot’s first book of collected verse, Prufrock and Other Observations (1917). It remains one of his most best-known poems and contains several passages found in many books of quotations. For more background on the poem see the post about it on my This Day in Quotes site.


A STRESSED PARENT'S TAKE ON COLLEGE TUITION:

"As the mother of a new college graduate, I am reminded today of T.S. Eliot, the famous St. Louis-born poet who will be forever remembered for the line in that one poem of his that resonates with parents everywhere: 'I have measured out my life in tuition years.' At least I THINK he wrote that. I mean, T.S. Eliot sure never had to pay tuition. His grandfather founded Washington University...Which means he graduated debt-free. Which explains why he could pursue a career in poetry. Which you hope your own son isn't considering. I mean, what kind of benefits package does THAT offer?"
      
Mary Bufe
       Freelance writer and columnist for Missouri’s Webster-Kirkwood Times
       Some of the funny quips in her newspaper column about the pressures parents face in trying to pay for their kids' college tuition.


A DEPRESSED JOURNALIST’S VERSION:

“I just hit forty. I don’t want to look up at fifty and realize I measured out my fucking life with a coffee spoon.”
      
Kenneth Branagh, playing the unsuccessful journalist Lee Simon
       In Woody Allen’s movie
Celebrity (1998)


A DEPRESSED POET’S VERSION:

“I have measured out
my life in little pills—Zoloft,
Restoril, Celexa,
Xanax.”

      
Kim Addonizio
       American poet and novelist
       In her poem
“The First Line is the Deepest,” included in her book Lucifer at the Starlite: Poems (2011)


THE SEX ADDICT’S VERSION:

“What in the name of God is it all for? To fuck? Is that my comfort and my staff?...To cruise the bars, to measure out my life in ejaculations?”
      
Daniel Curzon
       Pen name of the pioneering gay novelist and playwright Daniel R. Brown
       In his novel
Among the Carnivores (1978)


THE BRAVE NEW WORLD VARIATION:

“The Trixie Telemetry company sells a program to help parents raise their babies by quantifying their little lives, and turning what they do into data...It’s a mere matter of time before we can substitute T.S. Eliot’s tragic modern man, living by ‘measuring out my life with coffee spoons’ with the new postmodern dolt: A man who measures out his life with data spoons.”
      
Laurie Fendrich 
       Professor of Fine Arts at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY) 
      
In an op-ed posted on The Chronicle of Higher Education website, November 20, 2009


THE OLD WORLD RELIGION VARIATION:

“Catholicism’s once vivid otherworldliness had devolved into a sort of rote board game, in which preoccupation with involved scenarios of the life to come became an excuse to measure out one’s life in Hail Marys and First Fridays while ignoring real moral concerns.”
      
Rev. Richard McBrien 
       Controversial Catholic theologian at the University of Notre Dame
       An observation by McBrien cited in the article,
“Does Heaven Exist?,” in the June 24 2001 issue of Time magazine


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Comments? Questions? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Further reading: about and by T.S. Eliot…

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