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Artist, The
Engrave this Quote In the artist's recreation of the world we are enabled to see the world.
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-John W. Gardner, The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers
Bible, The
Engrave this Quote One of my less pleasant chores when I was young was to read the Bible from one end to the other. Reading the Bible straight through is at least 70 percent discipline, like learning Latin. But the good parts are, of course, simply amazing. God is an extremely uneven writer, but when He's good, nobody can touch Him.
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-John W. Gardner
Community
Engrave this Quote Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.
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-John W. Gardner
Creativity
When Alexander the Great visited Diogenes and asked whether he could do anything for the famed teacher, Diogenes replied: 'Only stand out of my light.' Perhaps some day we shall know how to heighten creativity. Until then, one of the best things we can do for creative men and women is to stand out of their light.
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-John W. Gardner
Education
Engrave this Quote America's greatness has been the greatness of a free people who shared certain moral commitments. Freedom without moral commitment is aimless and promptly self-destructive.
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-John W. Gardner
Engrave this Quote I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.
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-John W. Gardner
Excellence
Engrave this Quote Whoever I am, or whatever I am doing, some kind of excellence is within my reach.
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-John W. Gardner
Engrave this Quote Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.
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-John W. Gardner
Engrave this Quote The idea for which this nation stands will not survive if the highest goal free man can set themselves is an amiable mediocrity. Excellence implies striving for the highest standards in every phase of life.
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-John W. Gardner
Failure
Engrave this Quote We pay a heavy price for our fear of failure. It is a powerful obstacle to growth. It assures the progressive narrowing of the personality and prevents exploration and experimentation. There is no learning without some difficulty and fumbling. If you want to keep on learning, you must keep on risking failure all your life.
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-John W. Gardner
Government
Engrave this Quote It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government.
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-John W. Gardner
Greatness & Great Things
Engrave this Quote Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Few have excellence thrust upon them. . . . They achieve it. They do not achieve it unwittingly by doing what comes naturally and they don't stumble into it in the course of amusing themselves. All excellence involves discipline and tenacity of purpose.
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-John W. Gardner
Growth
Engrave this Quote I've watched a lot of mid-career people, and Yogi Berra says you can observe a lot just by watching. I've concluded that most people enjoy learning and growing. And many are dearly troubled by the self-assessments of mid-career. Such self-assessments are no great problem at your age. You're young and moving up. The drama of your own rise is enough. But when you reach middle age, when your energies aren't what they used to be, then you'll begin to wonder what it all added up to; you'll begin to look for the figure in the carpet of your life. I have some simple advice for you when you begin that process. Don't be too hard on yourself. Look ahead. Someone said that Life is the art of drawing without an eraser. And above all don't imagine that the story is over. Life has a lot of chapters.
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-John W. Gardner, Personal Renewal, Delivered to McKinsey & Company, Phoenix, AZ, November 10, 1990
Happiness
Engrave this Quote True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.
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-John W. Gardner
History
Engrave this Quote History never looks like history when you are living through it.
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-John W. Gardner
Leadership
Engrave this Quote Although leadership and the exercise of power are distinguishable activities, they overlap and interweave in important ways. Consider a corporate chief executive officer who has the gift for inspiring and motivating people, who has vision, who lifts the spirits of employees with a resulting rise in productivity and quality of product, and a drop in turnover and absenteeism. That is leadership. But evidence emerges that the company is falling behind in the technology race. One day with the stroke of a pen the CEO increases the funds available to the research division. That is the exercise of power. The stroke of a pen could have been made by an executive with none of the qualities one associates with leadership.
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-John W. Gardner, On Leadership, ch. 6, Free Press (1990)
Potential
Engrave this Quote The cynic says, One man can't do anything. I say, Only one man can do anything.
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-John W. Gardner
Poverty
Engrave this Quote For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred.
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-John W. Gardner
Problems
Engrave this Quote We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as unsolvable problems.
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-John W. Gardner
Respect
Engrave this Quote If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.
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-John W. Gardner
Risk
Engrave this Quote One of the reasons mature people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.
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-John W. Gardner
Self-Pity
Engrave this Quote Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the non-pharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.
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-John W. Gardner
Society
Engrave this Quote The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
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-John W. Gardner
Wealth
Engrave this Quote We get richer and richer in filthier and filthier communities until we reach a final state of affluent misery - crocus on a garbage heap.
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-John W. Gardner

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