Six Powerful and Wise Quotes from Theodore Roosevelt


September 16, 2012   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Theodore Roosevelt

Do you ever find yourself wondering how to achieve success, how best to live your life, and how to make progress towards your goals? Sure, we all do. But let’s not over-think the source of the solution. You don’t need to seek answers from the latest self-help books or seminars. Truly great advice rings just as true today as it did a hundred years ago.

These six quotes from Theodore Roosevelt (US president from 1901 – 1909) are all fully relevant in the 21st century. Which ones might you begin applying to your life today?

  1. “The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.”

What man or woman do you know who truly stood alone and had a successful life? Even the archetype of the rugged individual, John Galt in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, seems to be missing the vital component of community and quality relationships.

Quality relationships at home, work, and in our communities are a vital catalyst in making things work.

What do you observe when people do not have the ability or the desire to get along with others? What specific relationships in your world need your best efforts to create the shared successes you desire?

  • “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” 

Many of us are waiting for the perfect time, the perfect person, for all the stars to align before we take action, and before we will be happy. Even if this were to happen occasionally, it never seems to last. What then?

Roosevelt was both a visionary and a realist, charting the course to a better future while still taking into consideration the reality of our daily lives.

Look at the day ahead of you. What can you do with what you have and where you are?
You may surprise yourself.

  • “Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.” 

How often do you find yourself on the playing field versus in the stands as a spectator?

As spectators to a sporting event, or even a business interaction, we find ourselves in a relatively safe spot where we risk little or nothing. When we actually suit up and get in the game, we are putting ourselves to the test. Will we win and achieve success, or will we lose and fail?

One sure thing is that without risk, without getting in the game, we will never truly test ourselves, grow fully, and turn our potential for success into glorious triumphs.

Where in your life and career can you shift from being a spectator to getting on the field, so as to experience the excitement of participating – and yes, the potential of defeat.

It’s better to be fully alive on the field than to simply survive in the stand. Live your life; don’t play it so safe that you never go anywhere.

  • “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” 

Some say that all great journeys begin with the first step. This quote suggests that belief, which comes before actually taking your first step, puts you halfway towards your destination.

It’s clear that without belief, we are all pretty much stopped before we ever begin. Our belief in a goal, a cause or a person, or even our spiritual belief(s), have the mysterious power to mobilize all kinds of forces or resources to pull or propel us forward.

What can you do to clarify or strengthen your belief in yourself or others, to help make dramatic leaps forward towards your professional or personal objectives?

  • “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” 

Did you ever realize that you can’t ever get away from yourself? Sure, sometimes we find a temporary escape through various methods. But when these methods wear off, we often find ourselves right where we started with things no better … and maybe worse.

Taking full responsibility and being 100% accountable for one’s life is a bold and challenging endeavor. Doing this, however, has great rewards, since much of life is a matter of perspective, attitude, intention and commitment.

What percent of your troubles are caused by or negatively influenced by the person looking back at you in the mirror?

How would taking greater responsibility for these problems lead you to a happier and more fulfilling life?

  • “Old age is like everything else. To make a success of it, you’ve got to start young.” 

We have all heard that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the second best is now. When is the best time to begin living your life fully, so that when you are old, you have no regrets?

Many people, including myself, raced through parts of our lives hoping to get to the good stuff faster – but we simply found ourselves not paying attention as the days, weeks, and even years slipped by. Did you ever look into the mirror, surprised to see an older person looking back at you?

As with the tree, how can you plant your intention to lead an extraordinary life each and every day? How can you close your eyes each night with no regret, with the hope that you will have this opportunity again tomorrow?


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