The Will To Win Is Not Worth Much Unless You Have the Will To Prepare To Win

Vince Lombardi? Bobby Knight? Fielding H. Yost? John Cooper? Joe Paterno? Vernon Law? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: A popular sports maxim highlights the importance of preparation. Here are three versions:

  1. The will to win is important; the will to prepare to win is vital.
  2. The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win.
  3. The will to win is not worth a nickel unless you have the will to prepare.

This saying has been attributed to several prominent coaches including: Bobby Knight who led the Indiana Hoosiers basketball team, Vince Lombardi who led the Green Bay Packers football team, Fielding H. Yost who led the Michigan Wolverines football team, and Joe Paterno who led Penn State Nittany Lions football team. Who should receive credit?

Quote Investigator: Fielding H. Yost was the head football coach at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for 25 seasons at the beginning of the twentieth century. His remarkably successful squads dominated opponents and won several national championships. During the 1929-30 academic year Yost delivered a speech to teachers in the Public Schools Athletic League of New York City. His “Wingate Memorial Lecture” included a prolix version of the athletic adage. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI:[1]1930, Intimate Talks by Great Coaches: Wingate Memorial Lectures 1929-1930, Edited by E. Dana Caulkins, Lecture Title: Fundamentals of Football Coaching by Fielding H. Yost (University of Michigan), … Continue reading

The will to win. We hear a lot about that. The will and the wish to win, but there isn’t a chance for either one of them to be gratified or to have any value unless there has been a will to prepare to win: the will to prepare for service, to do the things that build and develop our capacity, physical, mental, and moral.

Yost reiterated this notion during several speeches, and QI believes he was primarily responsible for its popularization although the phrasing he employed was variable. During the ensuing decades other coaches adopted the saying.

Below are additional selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading The Will To Win Is Not Worth Much Unless You Have the Will To Prepare To Win

References

References
1 1930, Intimate Talks by Great Coaches: Wingate Memorial Lectures 1929-1930, Edited by E. Dana Caulkins, Lecture Title: Fundamentals of Football Coaching by Fielding H. Yost (University of Michigan), Start Page 3, Quote Page 18, Wingate Memorial Fund Inc., New York. (HathiTrust Full View) link

The Dictionary Is the Only Place Where Success Comes Before Work

Vince Lombardi? Mark Twain? Arthur Brisbane? Vidal Sassoon? Stubby Currence? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is an astute saying about gaining achievements through effort that deftly refers to the alphabetical order of a dictionary. Here are two versions:

1) Success comes before work only in the dictionary.
2) The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.

This expression has been attributed to football coach Vince Lombardi, humorist Mark Twain, newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane, hair stylist Vidal Sassoon, and others. Would you please explore its origin?

Quote Investigator: QI has found no substantive evidence that Mark Twain made this statement. It is not listed on Barbara Schmidt’s TwainQuotes.com website, an important reference tool for checking expressions ascribed to the luminary. Also, it does not appear in the large compilation “Mark Twain at Your Fingertips”.

The earliest strong match for this saying known to QI appeared as a filler item in the “Oklahoma City Star” newspaper in 1934. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:[1] 1934 July 20, Oklahoma City Star, (Filler item), Section M2, Quote Page 1, Column 2, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Newspapers_com)

PERTINENT POINTER
“The only place where SUCCESS comes before WORK is in the dictionary.”—Clipped.

The acknowledgement “clipped” probably meant that the quip was clipped from another periodical; hence, the ascription remains anonymous. QI believes that the expression evolved over time from related jokes, and details are presented below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading The Dictionary Is the Only Place Where Success Comes Before Work

References

References
1 1934 July 20, Oklahoma City Star, (Filler item), Section M2, Quote Page 1, Column 2, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Newspapers_com)

Our Greatest Glory Is Not in Never Falling, But in Rising Every Time We Fall

Confucius? Nelson Mandela? Vince Lombardi? Oliver Goldsmith? Ralph Waldo Emerson? Christian Nestell Bovee?

Dear Quote Investigator: The following adage about motivation and perseverance has been attributed to an oddly eclectic group: Chinese philosopher Confucius, football coach Vince Lombardi, activist politician Nelson Mandela, Irish author Oliver Goldsmith, and transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here are four versions. The fourth uses “failing” instead of “falling”:

1) The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

2) The greatest accomplishment is not in never falling, but in rising again after you fall.

3) Our greatest strength lies not in never having fallen, but in rising every time we fall.

4) Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.

I have no idea if any of these ascriptions is correct because I have not seen any documentation listing a source. Would you please help me with this frustrating situation?

Quote Investigator: In 1760 and 1761 a series of letters written by an imaginary Chinese traveler based in London named Lien Chi Altangi was published in “The Public Ledger” magazine of London. The actual author was an Irishman named Oliver Goldsmith who used the perspective of an outsider from China to comment on and satirize the life and manners of the city. Goldsmith later achieved fame with his novel “The Vicar of Wakefield” and his play “She Stoops to Conquer”.[1] The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (Third edition), Entry: The Citizen of the World, Oxford University Press, Oxford Reference Online. (Accessed May 26, 2014)

The letters were collected and released in book form in 1762 under the title “The Citizen of the World: or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Residing in London, to His Friends in the East “. The seventh letter from Lien Chi Altangi included an instance of the adage:[2]1762, The Citizen of the World: or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Residing in London, to His Friends in the East by Lien Chi Altangi (Oliver Goldsmith), Letter VII and Letter XXII, Printed for … Continue reading

Our greatest glory is, not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

A different phrasing of the maxim was included in the twenty-second letter:

True magnanimity consists not in NEVER falling, but in RISING every time we fall.

QI has located no substantive evidence that the ancient sage Confucius constructed this saying in either form, and QI believes that Goldsmith crafted it. However, the context of these simulated exotic letters led many readers to believe that the author was relaying aphorisms from China. Indeed, the introductory note for the seventh letter specifically referred to Confucius:

The Editor thinks proper to acquaint the reader, that the greatest part of the following letter seems to him to be little more than a rhapsody of sentences borrowed from Confucius, the Chinese philosopher.

By 1801 an edition of “The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith” included the letters that were originally ascribed to Lien Chi Altangi. Hence, the words were properly credited to Goldsmith.[3]1801, The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith, Volume 3 of 4, Letter VII, Quote Page 21, Letter XXI, Quote Page 75, Printed for J. Johnson, G. and J. Robinson, W. J. and J. Richardson, et al, … Continue reading

Yet, by 1831 the saying had been reassigned to Confucius. In later years, the phrasing evolved, and the adage was attributed to a variety of individuals including Ralph Waldo Emerson. In modern times, there is evidence that both Vince Lombardi and Nelson Mandela used the expression. Details for these citations are given further below.

Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.

Continue reading Our Greatest Glory Is Not in Never Falling, But in Rising Every Time We Fall

References

References
1 The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature (Third edition), Entry: The Citizen of the World, Oxford University Press, Oxford Reference Online. (Accessed May 26, 2014)
2 1762, The Citizen of the World: or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher, Residing in London, to His Friends in the East by Lien Chi Altangi (Oliver Goldsmith), Letter VII and Letter XXII, Printed for George and Alex. Ewing, Dublin, Ireland. (ECCO TCP: Eighteenth Century Collections Online, Text Creation Partnership) link link link
3 1801, The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith, Volume 3 of 4, Letter VII, Quote Page 21, Letter XXI, Quote Page 75, Printed for J. Johnson, G. and J. Robinson, W. J. and J. Richardson, et al, Printed by Nichols and Son, Red Lion Passage, Fleet Street, London. (Google Books Full View) link