A terrific way to begin a speech is to start with an arresting quotation. I like to use quotations at the beginning of articles and sections of books. But you must choose quotations that are fresh if you want to make an impact, and gain credibility. It diminishes your credibility if you use hackneyed, over-used quotations. Another credibility destroyer is using a quotation of dubious ancestry. There are any number of quotations attributed to Lincoln or Churchill that these individuals never thought of saying.
Whatyousay.com is constantly on the lookout for quotations that our growing family of readers can use. This collection comes from The Achievement Digest, Issue Number 83. (For a complimentary subscription to this great resource, sign up at presidentlincoln.com.)
“Cowards die many times before their deaths, The valiant never taste of death but once.” –“Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare, (Act 2, scene 2, William Shakespeare, 1564-1616)
Vanity, all is vanity
“I found that negotiating with men’s vanity gives one the best bargain, for one often receives the most substantial advantages in return for very little of substance. For nations are like men in that they prefer a fuss made on their behalf to real services rendered.” –Alexis de Tocqueville (French diplomat and social philosopher; his book “Democracy in America” is regarded as the finest account of the American national character ever written. 1805-1859)
“As long as you have a job on hand that absorbs all your mental energy, you haven’t much worry to spare over other things. It serves as a suit of armor.” –Eugene O’Neill (American playwright and Nobel Laureate in literature; 1888-1953).
“A closed mind is a wonderful thing to lose.” Bumper sticker seen in Saratoga Springs, NY
“…It’s you — nobody else — who determines your destiny and decides your fate. Nobody else can be alive for you; nor can you be alive for anybody else. Toms can be Dicks and Dicks can be Harrys, but none of them can ever be you.”
-– e.e. Cummings (American poet and essayist, 1894-1962)
“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” –e.e. Cummings
“The whole universe in its different spans and wave lengths, exclusions and envelopments, is everywhere alive and conscious.”
–William James (American philosopher and psychologist and the brother of novelist Henry James; his most famous work is The Varieties of Religious Experience; 1842-1910)
“There’s no future in doing what you’re pretty good at, if you can do what you could be great at. Samuel Morse was a pretty good painter, but he walked into the history book when he quit painting and started working on the telegraph.”
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