Two Necessities In Doing a Great and Important Work: A Definite Plan and Limited Time

Elbert Hubbard? H.C. Peters? Leonard Bernstein?

Dear Quote Investigator: Dreaming about accomplishing a vaguely defined magnificent task at some unknown future date is unhelpful. True progress is made by formulating a plan and adopting a clear deadline. This notion has been attributed to U.S. publisher Elbert Hubbard and U.S. composer Leonard Bernstein. Would you please explore this topic.

Quote Investigator: Aphorist Elbert Hubbard edited and published a journal called “The Fra” for an artisan community in East Aurora, New York. The September 1911 issue featured the following epigraph. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1

TWO NECESSITIES IN DOING A GREAT AND IMPORTANT WORK: A DEFINITE PLAN AND LIMITED TIME

The journal issue included a short article by H.C. Peters that elaborated on this adage: 2

If I were trying to condense in a few words the best plan for efficient action, I would say: Have a definite thing to do and a limited time to do it. About fifty per cent of the people engaged in business never reach the point where they set their minds on doing some one definite thing . . .

It is left for the men who decide on a definite thing to do within a limited time, to keep the wheels of progress moving.

Apparently, H.C. Peters developed the core idea, and Elbert Hubbard crafted and popularized a concise statement. Alternatively, Hubbard constructed the adage, and he next asked Peters to write on the subject.

The saying evolved over time, and it was reassigned to Leonard Bernstein by 2002. Yet, Bernstein died in 1990; hence, the current evidence supporting this attribution is rather weak.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Two Necessities In Doing a Great and Important Work: A Definite Plan and Limited Time

Notes:

  1. 1911 September, The Fra, Volume 7, Number 6, (Epigraph on title page), Quote Page 161, Elbert Hubbard and The Roycrofters, East Aurora, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1911 September, The Fra, Volume 7, Number 6, (Untitled Article) by H. C. Peters, Start Page xxxvi (36), Quote Page xxxvi (36), Elbert Hubbard and The Roycrofters, East Aurora, New York. (Google Books Full View) link

It Is the Artists of This World, the Feelers and Thinkers, Who Will Ultimately Save Us

Leonard Bernstein? Apocryphal?

tanglewood08Dear Quote Investigator: The late 1960s and early 1970s were a time of societal upheaval and uncertainty in the United States. The prominent conductor and composer Leonard Bernstein who was well-known for crafting the music of “West Side Story” delivered a speech during which he asserted that only the artists of the world could save the world. I would like to include an excerpt from the speech in a book, but I have not been able to trace it. Would you please examine this topic?

Quote Investigator: On June 28, 1970 Leonard Bernstein gave an address at the opening exercises of the Tanglewood Music Center in Massachusetts, and shortly afterward excerpts were printed in “The Boston Globe”. The article title mentioned Bernstein’s theme of hope and the artist’s role in a chaotic world: 1

It is the artists of this world, the feelers and thinkers, who will ultimately save us, who can articulate, educate, defy, insist, sing, and shout the big dreams. Only the artists can turn the “not-yet” into reality.

How do you do it? Find out what you can do well, uniquely well, and then do it for all you’re worth. And I don’t mean “doing your own thing” in the hip sense. That’s passivity, that’s dropping out, that’s not doing anything. I’m talking about doing, which means serving your community, whether it’s a tiny town or six continents.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading It Is the Artists of This World, the Feelers and Thinkers, Who Will Ultimately Save Us

Notes:

  1. 1970 July 05, Boston Globe, Bernstein’s message: hope: Tanglewood address stresses artist’s role in chaotic world by Leonard Bernstein (Advisor to Tanglewood, Conductor Laureate, New York Philharmonic), (Extracts from an address given at the opening exercises at Tanglewood, June 28, 1970), Start Page A19, Quote Page A22, Column 8, Boston, Massachusetts. (ProQuest)