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How to Be Successful: Quotes from Famous People on Success

Updated on December 28, 2015

Wise Words on Success

From the beginning of time, wise people have spoken about how to be successful.

Everything that philosophers, authors, scientists, and successful people from all walks of life have said about success can be boiled down to just 10 rules.

If you want to be successful, just apply these rules to your life.

Everyone wants to be, and can be successful

Use the power of positive thinking to be successful.
Use the power of positive thinking to be successful. | Source

Rule 1: You are what you think.

Use the power of positive thinking. Positive thoughts will yield positive outcomes. Positive affirmations can be an important tool for success.

So repeat after me: I am a powerful person. I will succeed. Now add your own affirmations that are specific to your situation. Repeat them frequently throughout the day.

Buddha: Spiritual leader

All that we are is a result of what we have thought.

Mohandas K. Gandhi: Leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India

A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes.

Earl Nightingale: Motivational speaker

We become what we think about most of the time, and that's the strangest secret.

Rule 2: Obstacles are just challenges you haven’t overcome yet.

Set your goals and do not be deterred by obstacles. When you are blocked, find a way around the obstacle—go over it, under it, or through it. There is no obstacle that can not be overcome.

NASA found a way to put a man on the moon. What are your obstacles compared to that? They did it by treating each obstacle as a challenge and then working out a way to overcome it.

John Wooden: Basketball player and coach

Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.

Albert Einstein: Astrophysicist

Failure is success in progress.

Washington Irving: Author, essayist, biographer, historian, diplomat

Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above it.

Rule 3: Dream big, then, turn your dreams into reality.

Remember the song “Happy Talk” from the show “South Pacific. The lyrics say, you can never have a dream come true, unless you first have a dream.

So dream your dream, and don’t be afraid to dream big. Then figure out how to turn the dream into reality.

Steven Spielberg: Director, producer

I don’t dream at night, I dream all day, I dream for a living.

Walt Disney: Entrepreneur, animator, director, producer

It you can dream it, you can do it.

Henry Ford: Entrepreneur, founder of Ford Motor Company

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them. The whole secret of a successful life is to find out what is one's destiny to do, and then do it.

Harriet Tubman: African-American former slave, abolitionist, humanitarian, Union spy (Civil War)

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

"Happy Talk" from "South Pacific"

Rule 4: Follow your own star.

It’s your dream, so do it your way. You can ask for advice, you can listen to advice, but in the end. you have t do it your way.

You may get a lot of conflicting advice. Consider what others have to say. Think it through and then follow your instincts.

I’m not a famous person, but I’ll quote myself anyway: “I’d rather be wrong doing what I think is right, than right doing what I think is wrong.”

William Shakespeare: Playwright, poet

To thine own self be true.

Bill Cosby: Comedian, actor, author, television producer

I don't know the key to success, the the key to failure is trying to please everybody.

Maya Angelou: Author, poet, dancer, actress, singer

Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.

David Frost: journalist, comedian, writer, and television host.

Don't aim for success if you want it; just do what you love and believe in, and it will come naturally.

Rule 5: Don’t be afraid to take a chance.

Don’t let fear of failure hold you back. You know the old saying—noting ventured; nothing gained.

Everybody fails at something, some time. But the surest way to be a faiure at something is to never even attempt to do it.

William Shakespeare: Playwright, poet

Faint heart never won fair maid.

Wayne Gretzky: Ice hockey player, coach

You miss a 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

Michael Jordan: Basketball player, entrepreneur

I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.

Robert Kiyosaki: Investor, businessman, self-help author, motivational speaker

Don't let the fear of losing be greater than the excitement of winning.

Les Brown: motivational speaker, former Congressman author, radio DJ

Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears.

Rule 6: Keep on keeping on.

There’s a saying about boxers--the winner is the guy who gets up one more time than his opponent. The will, and the courage, to keep going even when you fail leads to success.

Like a baby learning to walk—she gets on her feet and falls on her bottom. But she keeps on trying and eventually she is walking.

You were that baby once. You didn’t give up then; don’t give up now.

Winston Churchill: Prime Minister of England

Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

Margaret Thatcher: Prime Minister of England

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.

Zig Ziglar: Motivational speaker

People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily.

Vince Lombardi: Football player, coach

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.

Perseverance Leads to Success

If you want to be successful, don't give up!
If you want to be successful, don't give up! | Source

Rule 7: Learn from failure. Then try again.

One reason you should not be afraid to fail is that experience is a great teacher. Failure is just a way to learn what won’t work.

When you fail, don’t just try again. Figure out why you failed, and ten try a different way. There’s a saying “If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got.”

Thomas A. Edison: Inventor

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.

Oscar Wilde: Playwright, writer, poet

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.

Dale Carnegie: Motivational speaker

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.

George Bernard Shaw: Playwright

Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time.

Rule 8: Do something that you find valuable and meaningful.

You are much more likely to stick with something if you are trying to accomplish something that you believe is important, something that is meaningful to you.

Albert Einstein: Ttheoretical physicist

Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value.

Guy Kawasaki: Marketer for Apple, writer

The best reason to start an organization is to make meaning; to create a product or service to make the world a better place.

Kelly Kim: Professional poker player

Success is about creating benefit for all and enjoying the process. If you focus on this and adopt this definition, success is yours.

Rule 9: Work hard.

Success takes hard work. It may mean long hours and personal sacrifice.

Whenever you hear about an “overnight success”, take a closer look. You will inevitably find year of hard work, years of trying and failing, preceded the success.

Vidal Sassoon: Hairdresser, entrepreneur

The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Thomas Jefferson: 3rd president of the United States

I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.

Robert Collier: Writer (self-help books)

Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day-in and day-out.

Confidence Leads to Success

If you want to be successful, believe in yourself.
If you want to be successful, believe in yourself. | Source

Rule 10: Believe in yourself.

Maybe “Believe in yourself” should have been the first rule because having confidence in your ability to be successful is what makes all the other rules possible.

Remember the children’s book, The Little Engine that Could. If you think you can—if you know you can, then you will.

Virgil: Poet (Ancient Rome)

They can because they think they can.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Former first lady

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

Steve Jobs: Founder of Apple

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

Mike Ditka:Football player, coach, television commentator

Before you can win, you have to believe you are worthy.

Norman Vincent Peale: Minister, author of self help books

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

Bonus Rule: Know when to quit.

After all this pep talk stuff about trying and striving and beleiving, how anti-climatic to add “know when to quit.”

Sometimes something really is a lost cause, and you have to know when to let go. This does not make you a quitter; it makes you a realist. And, it allows you to put your resources—your time, your money and your energy elsewhere.

It hasn’t been a waste. You have learned, probably more than you realize. Further, life is often like a spiral. You may find that you come back to this abandoned project at a later time, and this time you succeed.

W.C. Fields: Comedian, actor, writer

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it.

Get More Advice About Success

The Success Principles(TM) - 10th Anniversary Edition CD: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be
The Success Principles(TM) - 10th Anniversary Edition CD: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

John Canfield, co-founder of the best-selling "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series shares his success secrets in this book. Since its publication a decade ago, Jack Canfield's practical and inspiring guide is a classic that has helped hundreds of thousands of people achieve success. This fully revised and updated edition of his book features additional material, including a new section that offers a comprehensive guide to "Success in the Digital Age." The book is also available in hardback, paperback, and kindle editions.


How Likely are You to Succeed?

How many of the above rules do you follow?

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Is success just a matter of luck?
Is success just a matter of luck? | Source


Success is simply a matter of luck. Ask any failure. -Earl Wilson

Eighty percent of success is showing up. -Woody Allen

The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success. -Author Unknown

Want more success? Watch this video.

Did I miss any rules? Add them here.

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    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 years ago from Orlando Florida

      Thank you teaches 12345. I'm so glad that you found my article to be personally valuable. You've made my day.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      This was just the inspiration I needed to hear. I enjoyed reading the quotes. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the names listed. Good hub and so valuable to readers.