28 Achieving Success Quotes For 2017
It is often a road fraught with proverbial land mines. You have to fail, sometimes often, in order to succeed, and even then, getting there is not guaranteed.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of information out there to help. When it comes to achieving success, few know better than the people we’re about to cover.
Included are business people, literary giants, athletes, political figures, and more. As you gear up for 2017, we’ve curated some of our favorite “true-isms” about success along with commentary for each.
Take each one to heart and see where it applies to your life — or how it can apply to your life. Let’s begin.
Achieving Success Quote No. 1. Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose. — Bill Gates
Billionaire tech entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates would know about achieving success. As the founder of Microsoft, his work has influenced generations and will continue to be a factor in tech and education development for at least the next century.
His quote is a favorite of ours because it touches on a little-known danger of achieving success — the false sense of security that one or two successes can give you. That “security” can prove disastrous later in life.
So far, this belief has kept Gates on the right path. You would be wise to heed it and to never succumb to “believing your own hype” too much.
2. Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. — Swami Sivananda
Sivananda was a Hindu spiritual leader, but you do not have to share his faith to derive value from this quote. While on the surface, it may seem a little too heady and religious, it says a lot about the type of attitude that leads to success.
Putting your “heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts” is not simply about being a good person; it is also about using the smallest things to train yourself for the bigger challenges.
If you foster a strong work ethic, in other words, you will be ready no matter what comes down the pike.
3. A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success. — Joyce Brothers
Dr. Joyce Brothers was a pop culture icon for advice throughout much of the 1980s and ’90s. An accomplished woman as early as 1957, she was also a brilliant psychologist.
Her work largely centered on self-image and she was a longtime columnist for Good Housekeeping magazine. She frequently dispensed advice to her readers (and later listeners) on how they could see themselves in the best light.
Her quote here has much truth behind it. If you are confident of who you are, you will be confident of where you are going and how to get there.
4. Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence. — Colin Powell
Retired four-star General Colin Powell is definitely a success figurehead to listen to, not only for his continuing influence on the national and political stage, but also for his military successes.
He rose above biases and prejudices in achieving success, and in one quote has given a blueprint for how to grow in good times and bad.
For Powell, failure is a necessary ingredient in success. And when you are always striving for perfection, you will experience a lot of it. You will also derive more value from those failures than many people do from a lifetime of successes achieved at a lower bar.
5. Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. — Winston Churchill
Churchill was not only one of Britain’s greatest leaders, he was also a man of great wisdom and one-liners. This outlook on success lacks the biting wit he was known for, but it gets right to the point and offers a more hopeful view of failure and success than many.
The sobering and hopeful message here — that there is still more work to do after achieving success and that missing the mark will not put you out of the game — is interlocked with the connective tissue of endurance.
6. Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful. — Albert Schweitzer
Loving what you do may not bring riches and fame. It may not make you the best in your field even. But it will give you a personal fulfillment that will make feeling like a failure seem all but impossible.
Whether you see eye-to-eye with Schweitzer on religious views, the man’s extensive education, his prowess as a physician, and his commitment to helping others demonstrated an understanding of success that went well beyond the financial to the human heart.
7. Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. — Albert Einstein
Einstein needs no introduction. He possessed one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th Century. He was a man so intelligent that it made him a celebrity in much the same way Stephen Hawking is viewed today.
Achievement was unavoidable in his life, but if you’ll notice, the fame and fortune that came with that were outgrowths of his contributions, not because he was trying to build his celebrity.
Bottom line: If you focus on giving people value, they will become evangelists for your success and the fruits of that are sure to follow.
Achieving Success Quote No. 8. Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. — Henry Ford
If ever a country needed to hear these words more, it is America in the aftermath of the 2016 election. Division can be blamed on both sides of the political divide, and it is safe to say the country is now more divided than ever.
But Henry Ford, the father of the automobile and a multibillion-dollar industry, gave us the blueprint for how we can fix ourselves a long time ago. The first step is finding common ground. The second, finding more to unite us even amid disagreements. The third, breaking through to that synergy that comes with teamwork.
9. All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure. — Mark Twain
Mark Twain was a humorist, so you have to expect a certain degree of sarcasm in what he says. But peeling back the layers on this comment, it is clear the wit hides a certain degree of levity.
Successful people are often successful because they have enough confidence in their own abilities to push past whatever limitations — known and unknown — arise along the way.
In other words, achieving success is not a typical outcome if you are a chronic over-thinker to the point of mental paralysis.
10. However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. — Stephen Hawking
Few men and women who have achieved great things in their lifetimes have had to do so through more adversity than Hawking. The 74-year-old, who suffers from the debilitating disease ALS, has managed to become a physicist, cosmologist, and author while fathering three children.
Translation: Life for Hawking has been difficult, but not enough to slow him down socially, professionally, or educationally. He found his calling and used what talents he had left — namely a brilliant mind and acerbic wit — to achieve.
11. Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort. — Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt led America through its toughest economic time and did so while battling the then-incurable affliction of polio.
His “New Deal” with the U.S. population must be understood through the devastating lens of the times. He had a creative and immediate response that was able to get the nation back on the right track, and was so well-loved by his constituents that he was voted to three terms.
12. Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. — Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln faced insurmountable odds in keeping the country together through a time that was far more divisive than our own.
On paper, with two factions of citizenry killing one another in organized regiments, the idea the nation could possibly come back together was an absurd one.
But Lincoln had a vision that America could once again become a united people, and so he was able to achieve that goal by refusing the naysayers of the time.
His belief in the success of his own objective was stronger than any doubt or doubter.
13. The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. — Vince Lombardi
Lombardi, the legendary NFL coach, has had many stories told of him — some truth, some apocryphal, as is common with legends of his stature.
One of our favorites has to do with a winning football game his Green Bay Packers had one evening. As legend has it, Lombardi was dissatisfied with the way his team played in spite of the W, so when they arrived home from the away game, he had his men suit up, subjecting them to a long practice that lasted well into the night.
This demonstrates the character of Lombardi. He believed more in giving your best effort, win or lose, than what the digits on a scoreboard said at the end of the game.
Winners could be losers to him, and vice versa. What a perfect quote to bring all this home!
14. Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. — Helen Keller
It is a hard fact of life that consequences often lead to success. Keller had physical challenges that might have silenced her voice had she not heeded this bit of self-advice through her own character.
This quote is a variation on the old saying that “free things aren’t worth a dime.” You cannot get to the top of Success Mountain without first overcoming obstacles.
Achieving Success Quote No. 15. Money won’t create success, the freedom to make it will. — Nelson Mandela
Mandela went from political prisoner to political leader and one of the most beloved and widely respected historical figures of the 20th Century. He did not back down from what he wanted, and what he wanted was freedom and equality.
That was hard to come by for people of color, who wanted nothing more than a fair shake. His quote offers unique insight in that it is coming at the topic of achieving success from the position of oppression.
He would eventually know both, becoming elected leader of a country that once placed him behind bars.
16. Success is not a destination, but the road that you’re on. Being successful means that you’re working hard and walking your walk every day. You can only live your dream by working hard towards it. That’s living your dream. — Marlon Wayans
Comedian Marlon Wayans comes from a hugely successful comedic family and has been a pretty significant contributor to those achievements himself. His insight to success is something creative people know all too well — that destinations are awfully messy.
You can get to somewhere special that you never intended provided that you are committed to the process of creation first.
Many writers — a group to which Marlon also belongs — will tell you they “know” their ending before they begin. But even when they “know,” it can go through unexpected changes before all is said and done.
That is because successful writers or creatives of any type do not get hung up on predetermined outcomes. They understand getting there requires process and process can change or not change along the way. The number one thing is being mindful enough to know when change is necessary and when it isn’t.
You can only get there if you are more devoted to process than outcome.
17. Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it. — Bruce Lee
You can learn from amazing people. Bruce Lee was just such a person. He had copious amounts of knowledge to share with the world, and he did so with regularity before his untimely death.
He was outspoken and confident in a time of prejudice, and he never let that slow him down. That said, he was a believer that personal experience is the crucial component no expert can serve up on a silver platter.
Yes, learn. But don’t forget that it’s your life and your success journey. You are the only one who can live it.
18. Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn’t that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you. — Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe, born Norma Jean Shepherd, lived a brief and turbulent life. She achieved great fame and wealth and notoriety while she was here, but it never seemed to provide the happiness she was after.
Marilyn is a reminder that you can learn much about success from the unhappy as well as the happy.
She had a sense of what success was, but when observed through the lens of her life, it would not be out of line to say that she never achieved success as most would determine it.
This quote shows the negative aspects that can consume your achievements — or at least the happiness derived from them — if you allow it.
19. Sometimes I worry about being a success in a mediocre world. — Lily Tomlin
Funny lady and beloved actress Lily Tomlin is anything but mediocre with a career that spans decades. She has worked alongside some of the biggest stars while carving out her own niche with a distinctive look and voice that will forever herald her as one of the greats of comedy.
Perhaps it was this fear of mediocrity that allowed her to step out on the proverbial limb, take chances, and distinguish herself from peers and hopefuls.
This particular quote resonates because it puts achieving success in real perspective. If you are holding yourself back for fear of failure, are your accomplishments really worth that much?
20. Success is often the result of taking a misstep in the right direction. — Al Bernstein
Sportscaster and author Al Bernstein has observed and known many of the world’s greatest athletes. He knows a thing or two about achievement whether from the individual or team angle.
Many of these success stories had to know when to pivot and change course to keep their momentum going or create new opportunities. They lived the pivot in their lives as well as the field of play.
Bernstein’s quote is sobering because it speaks to the nature of so-called “failure.” Sometimes failure works to your advantage. Sometimes it doesn’t. Other times what you thought was a success might go south in a hurry.
Words of wisdom from a man, who has built a career on witnessing and reporting on greatness.
21. I think you can have moderate success by copying something else, but if you really want to knock it out of the park, you have to do something different and take chances. — Lee Ann Womack
Do you just want to get by or do you want to be remembered?
It is a question you have to come to terms with as you plan out and execute your career goals.
Country music star Lee Ann Womack stands out in a field of icons because she chose to go her own way. While the fame hasn’t lasted her forever, the success has continued.
That’s because Womack decided she wasn’t going to be Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, or any number of female country artists. She was going to be Lee Ann Womack.
Wins and losses will come your way with that same attitude, but you’ll always be able to separate yourself from the pack. Is there risk in it? Of course. But there is just as much risk in “playing it safe.”
Achieving Success Quote No. 22. The manic pursuit of success cost me everything I could love: my wife, my three children, some friends I would have liked to grow old with. — Sammy Davis, Jr.
Sammy Davis, Jr., a Rat Pack favorite and one of the most well-liked men of all time in the world of showbiz, saw great loss in his journey toward success.
While the crooner brought a smile to many people, his own considerably dour assessment is a reminder to not lose sight of what really matters — or what really should matter — in life.
23. I don’t dwell on success. Maybe that’s one reason I’m successful. — Calvin Klein
Klein has built one of the most successful and easily recognizable brands in the world, not just the fashion and fragrance industry.
He has done so by keeping an extremely low profile over the years, making the occasional pop culture appearance but allowing his products to do most of the heavy lifting.
You get a sense from how prolific Klein has been that his first love is directed at his products. In so doing, he has won the hearts and wallets of customers for decades.
If you focus on your work and doing the best you can do, success is waiting.
24. A long apprenticeship is the most logical way to success. The only alternative is overnight stardom, but I can’t give you a formula for that. — Chet Atkins
Chet Atkins influenced some of the biggest musical talents of the 20th Century, including the indomitable Elvis Presley.
But even though he was imitated and duplicated by more successful people than himself, he gave more credit for his personal successes to the mentors from whom he had learned.
Atkins lived long enough to know his impact, but at the end of the day, he considered his success the product of being a student to others.
25. I’ve been very lucky to have achieved a lot of the things that I dreamt of achieving as a young man. But, at the end of the day — and I truly believe this — it is not about achieving great wealth or success. Because they don’t bring happiness, ultimately. — Leonardo DiCaprio
DiCaprio is one of the most well-liked and commercially/critically successful actors of all time. He began as a fresh-faced child star on the television sitcom Growing Pains and spread his wings from there to teen heartthrob and critical darling.
Today he is a leading man of the highest order thanks to films like Shutter Island, Inception, The Revenant, and Catch Me If You Can, to name a few. He has worked with all manner of talent from the wisest directors (Martin Scorsese) to the hottest young starlets (Ellen Page).
Blockbusters, critics choice films — fame and fortune have been par for the course. Yet here he is, one of the most easily recognizable performers in Hollywood today, telling us there is something still missing even after you’ve become a millionaire several times over.
Leo’s recipe for success seems to be fighting for causes he believes in — climate change — and working with people he respects.
You get a sense he would be doing that regardless of his career standing.
26. I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate. — George Burns
Burns’ career in comedy lasted well into the 20th Century. His biting wit and trademark cigar carved him a place in television and film. He was definitely a success at something he loved.
But what people do not often realize is that George’s “comedy or die” attitude, which kept him performing well into his nineties, was the only way he was ever able to “arrive.”
The proof is Burns’ career trajectory. He achieved early success but later experienced a resurgence. Yes, there was a little reinvention there to keep up with the times, but the Burns who died at 100 years of age was very similar to the one that first uttered the words, “Say goodnight, Gracie,” to his longtime wife and comedy partner.
He just loved it so much that he would keep doing it regardless of if his name was front page headlines. That fearlessness and commitment to his craft kept him relevant for the better part of a century.
27. The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. — Irving Berlin
Berlin wrote a number of massive hits during his storied career, including “Blue Skies,” covered with great success by Willie Nelson, and “White Christmas,” covered by dozens of artists over the years including The Drifters and Bing Crosby.
Berlin’s drive to succeed seems to be rooted in a fear of failure — of going back to the shadows for not being able to reproduce his successes.
Success can be consuming and cause a lot of negativity if you are unable of controlling it. Berlin did his best work under that pressure, but not everyone will. That’s why it is important to have a love for what you are doing regardless of how successful you are at it.
28. Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life will become a beautiful success. — Louisa May Alcott
Novelist and poet Louisa May Alcott, known widely for Little Women, was also an abolitionist and a feminist. She cared deeply about causes as much as she did her work. Her advice here offers the perfect words to go out on.
You have to find balance between the creative and the obligatory, the work and the play. You have to realize there are only so many hours in a day, so if you give too many of those hours to the One, the Other will suffer.
A life of balance will allow you to face each stage of your life with the satisfaction that you are doing all you can at achieving success no matter which phase you are currently locked in.
Final thoughts on achieving success
As you think about achieving success for yourself in the new year, try to keep these words of wisdom at the front of your brain. Which quotes resonated most with you? Sound off in the comments section below.