≡ Menu

Booker T. Washington Quotes

Booker Taliaferro Washington

Booker T. Washington quotes: throwback thoughts by the late, great educator.

“Success waits patiently for anyone who has the determination and strength to seize it.”

“Each one should remember there is a chance for him.”

“Success always leaves footprints.”

“I have begun everything with the idea that I could succeed, and I never had much patience with the multitudes of people who are always ready to explain why one cannot succeed.”

“The circumstances that surround a man’s life are not important.  How that man responds to those circumstances is important.  His response is the ultimate determining factor between success and failure.”

“There is no power on earth that can neutralize the influence of a high, simple and useful life.”

“The man who has learned to do something better than anyone else, has learned to do a common thing in an uncommon manner, is the man who has a power and influence that no adverse circumstances can take from him.”

“Too often the educational value of doing well what is done, however little, is overlooked.  One thing well done prepares the mind to do the next thing better.  Not how much, but how well, should be the motto.  One problem thoroughly understood is of more value than a score poorly mastered.”

“In order to be successful in any undertaking, I think the main thing is for one to grow to the point where he completely forgets himself; that is, to lose himself in a great cause.  In proportion as one loses himself in this way, in the same degree does he get the highest happiness out of his work.”

“Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.”

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life, as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

“You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals.”

“No one can degrade us except ourselves.”

“Egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity.”

“I am learning more and more each year that all worry simply consumes, and to no purpose, just so much physical and mental strength that might otherwise be given to effective work.”

“Experience has taught me, in fact, that no man should be pitied because, every day in his life, he faces a hard, stubborn problem, but rather that it is the man who has no problem to solve, no hardships to face, who is to be pitied.”

“There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.”

“It means a great deal, I think, to start off on a foundation which one has made for oneself.”

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.”

“I think I have learned, in some degree at least, to disregard the old maxim, ‘Do not get others to do what you can do yourself.’  My motto, on the other hand, is: ‘Do not do that which others can do as well.'”

“Decide to be your best.  In the long run the world is going to want and have the best and that might as well be you.”

“An inch of progress is worth more than a yard of complaint.”

“Progress is the law of nature; under God it shall be our eternal guiding star.”

“Never let your work drive you.  Master it and keep it in complete control.”

“An ounce of application is worth a ton of abstraction.”

“Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company.”

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.  The happiest people are those who do the most for othersThe most miserable are those who do the least.”

“There is no escape.  Man drags man down, or man lifts man up.”

“The longer I live and the more experience I have of the world, the more I am convinced that, after all, the one thing that is most worth living for—and dying for, if need be—is the opportunity of making someone else more happy.”

“A life is not worth much of which it cannot be said, when it comes to its close, that it was helpful to humanity.”

“No man, who continues to add something to the material, intellectual and moral well-being of the place in which he lives, is left long without proper reward.”

“Holding a grudge does not hurt the person against whom the grudge is held, it hurts the one who holds it.”

“We should not permit our grievances to overshadow our opportunities.”

“We must reinforce argument with results.”

“Great men cultivate love.  Only little men cherish a spirit of hatred.”

“Character, not circumstances, makes the man.”

“Character is power.”

“You may fill your heads with knowledge or skillfully train your hands, but unless it is based upon high, upright character, upon a true heart, it will amount to nothing.  You will be no better than the most ignorant.”

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education which one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.”

“Most leaders spend time trying to get others to think highly of them, when instead they should try to get their people to think more highly of themselves.  It’s wonderful when the people believe in their leader.  It’s more wonderful when the leader believes in their people!  You can’t hold a man down without staying down with him.”

“In proportion, as one renders service, he becomes great.”

“Never get to the point where you will be ashamed to ask anybody for information.  The ignorant man will always be ignorant if he fears that by asking another for information he will display ignorance.  Better once display your ignorance of a certain subject than always know nothing of it.”

“Let us keep before us the fact that, almost without exception, every race or nation that has ever got upon its feet has done so through struggle and trial and persecution; and that out of this very resistance to wrong, out of the struggle against odds, they have gained strength, self-confidence, and experience which they could not have gained in any other way.”

“The individual who can do something that the world wants done will, in the end, make his way regardless of his race.”

“We all should rise above the clouds of ignorance, narrowness and selfishness.”

“In my contact with people, I find that, as a rule, it is only the little, narrow people who live for themselves, who never read good books, who do not travel, who never open up their souls in a way to permit them to come into contact with other souls—with the great outside world.”

“If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize dreams.”

“Success in life is founded upon attention to the small things rather than to the large things; to the every day things nearest to us rather than to the things that are remote and uncommon.”

“Do not be satisfied with second-hand or third-hand things in life.  Do not be satisfied until you have put yourselves into that atmosphere where you can seize and hold on to the very highest and most beautiful things that can be got out of life.”

“I believe that any man’s life will be filled with constant and unexpected encouragement, if he makes up his mind to do his level best each day, and as nearly as possible reaching the high-water mark of pure and useful living.”

“Remember that everyone’s life is measured by the power that individual has to make the world better.  This is all life is.”

“My whole life has largely been one of surprises.”

Related: C. S. Lewis quotes.

Cory Johnson: likes bumping #OnRepeat through the Bang & Olufsen sound system in his naturally aspirated V10; post-workout pumps; big boobs; dumb comedy; and your mom’s potato salad. He hates awkward handshakes. But who cares? Let’s talk about you.