Jesse Jackson? Napoleon Hill? Muhammad Ali? Armand J. Gariepy? Ralph L. Berry? Tennyson Guyer? Orlando K. Fitzsimmons? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: A popular collection of affirmations have been constructed with these three rhyming words: conceive, believe, and achieve. Here are three examples:
(1) Achieve anything you can conceive and believe.
(2) Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
(3) If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I know I can achieve it.
The first two statements have been attributed to self-help author Napoleon Hill, and the third has been credited to political activist Jesse Jackson. Would you please explore this topic?
Quote Investigator: This family of expressions has been evolving for more than one-hundred years. The earliest instances used just two of the three words.
Statements 1 and 2 above were used by Napoleon Hill’s self-help organization in 1952 and 1954, respectively. Statement 3 was employed by Jesse Jackson in 1978.
The following items with dates present an outline of the evolution:
1906: What man can conceive, man can achieve (Anonymous)
1928: Those who believe they can achieve the object of their definite chief aim do not recognize the word impossible (Napoleon Hill)
1937: The mind could produce anything the mind could conceive and believe (Napoleon Hill)
1952: Learn how to achieve anything you can conceive and believe (Napoleon Hill Advertisement)
1954: Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve (Napoleon Hill Associate)
1955 Jan: You can achieve anything that your mind can conceive providing you believe it (Armand J. Gariepy)
1955 Oct: Whatever you can believe you can conceive and achieve (Attributed to Napoleon Hill)
1956: Anything you can conceive or believe, you can achieve (Ralph L. Berry)
1958: Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve (Napoleon Hill)
1959: Three little words: conceive, believe, achieve (Tennyson Guyer)
1978: If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I know I can achieve it (Jesse Jackson)
2001: If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it, then I can achieve it (Attributed to Muhammad Ali)
Below are selected citations in chronological order.
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