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Quotations for Motivation #19 ---Self-Reliance

Updated on October 29, 2015

Quotations on Self-Reliance

Self-reliance gives one that self-respect that will command the respect of others.

—C.J. Clark, Autumn Leaves, Lamoni, Iowa, September 1912.

Self-respect can only be maintained through self-reliance, which must be based on self-maintenance.

—G. Pat Green, The Monroe News-Star, Monroe, La., June 6, 1937.

Self-reliance is not a single attribute but the combination of several qualities: Emotional stability. Willingness to face facts and accept responsibility. Practice in making decisions and being responsible for them. The habit of depending on one's own ability (standing erect by others and not being held erect by others) and energy of initiative.

—F. Nephi Grigg, Stibble Rig, Edinburgh, Scotland, May 7, 1971.

Self-reliance is a great educator. Necessity has ever been the priceless spur which has called man out of himself and spurred him on to his goal. Grit is more than a match for almost any handicap. It overcomes obstacles and abolishes difficulties. It is the man who makes the opportunity and does not wait for it—the man who helps himself and does not wait to be helped—that makes the strong thinker and vigorous operator. It is he who dares to be himself and to work by his own program without imitating others, who wins.

---Frank Hilton Greer, Oklahoma Farmer, Guthrie, Okla., Aug. 21, 1907.

The person who has no resources within himself is pretty apt to become proficient in drawing out the resources of others.

---Frank Hilton Greer, Oklahoma State Capital, Guthrie, Okla., March 13, 1908.

Self-reliance is the noblest expression of manhood.

---Charles M. Schwab, The Citizen, Berea, Ky., Aug. 24, 1916.

It doesn’t always injure a man to be thrown upon his own resources.

---Henry Edward Warner, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Va., Dec. 4, 1915.

Every man is the architect of his own independence.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Sept. 18, 1931.

Self-reliance is a combination of courage and responsibility. When duty reminds some persons of their responsibility, they may feel their courage ebb. Self-reliance, however, will always come with recollection of divine provision. Persons who look upward with faithful trust gain stability.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., June 1, 1958.

One cannot inculcate self-reliance in the young by permitting them freedom without responsibility.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., March 15, 1959.

Self-help is the only help that will make strong, vigorous lives. Self-reliance is a great educator. Necessity has ever been the priceless spur which has called man out of himself and spurred him on to his goal.

---Orison Swett Marden, Success Magazine, New York, N.Y., October 1903.

Every man or woman who goes through the world with great continents of undiscovered possibilities locked up in him or her commits a sin against himself or herself and that which borders on a crime against civilization. Don’t be afraid to trust yourself. Have faith in your own ability to think along original lines. If there is anything in you, self-reliance will bring it out.

---Orison Swett Marden, Success Magazine, New York, N.Y., February 1906.

The more self-reliant a man becomes the more self-respectful he also becomes. The two go hand in hand. The leaner, who shifts responsibility, in times becomes wholly reliant upon the brains, strength and courage of another. No man is so happy as the one who stands most alone! Such a one magnets others to him, but only so that they, too, may grow rich in mastery of self. We learn of ourselves as we do for ourselves. And, as we do for ourselves, we inspire others to do likewise. What a happy, steady world this world could be—if every man and woman would but “paddle their own canoe!”

---George Matthew Adams, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., March 11, 1936.

Many things enter into the building of a character, but there are a few that must be considered as essential. Self-reliance perhaps tops them all—for without it the entire structure of character remains incomplete and in danger of crashing under the very least of life’s assaults. Every day of our lives we are called upon to exercise our reliance upon self and it is largely because of the habits we have formed that we build character and by which we stand or fall. Self-reliance has proved the essential that has helped to weather every storm—as it always will! Self-reliance is the essential that always precedes self-respect. Without this essential, self-respect limps and hides its eye.

---George Matthew Adams, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., March 23, 1936.

That help which helps a man help himself is the only help worth the while.

---J. Marvin Nichols, The Daily Ardmoreite, Ardmore, Okla., April 8, 1907.

Do your own thinking and don't worry much about what "they" think.

‑‑‑B.C. Forbes, Forbes Magazine, New York, N.Y., Dec. 23, 1922.

How often we sigh for help just when we are neglecting to use what we have.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Jan. 5, 1938.

Men who impress the world as the most self-reliant are best aware of their own weaknesses.

---Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., April 4, 1934.

If in our desire to help a man we kill his desire to help himself we have made of that man an individual for whom there is no earthly hope.

---Jack Williams, Sr., Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Aug. 23, 1945.

Loyalty is one thing. Sustained, uninterrupted loyalty is something incalculably more valuable. You lose some of your inner strength every time you depend on others to do what you want done, to keep going what you want kept going, to build what you want built, to preserve what you want preserved. A voluntary dependence on others purposed to protect yourself from damage necessarily damages you.

---Henry Arnold “H.A.” Stallings, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Nov. 24, 1942.

Have not too many of us contracted the habit of looking too much to others for assistance? There has developed an inordinate tendency to turn to the government and ask favors from it. Are we not in danger of losing that spirit of self-reliance which is so essential to success in every line of endeavor? Are we not deteriorating into leaners instead of aspiring to become leaders? Are we not more concerned about getting assistance than about standing on our own feet and fighting our own battles? It was not thus that America was built up. It was not thus that men who have reached the top fought their way there. The remedy. Each of us must find it, and apply it, for himself or herself.

---B.C. Forbes, Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburg, Pa., Jan. 31, 1922.

One of the first lessons that a lad should learn is self-reliance and that does not mean willfulness or “self-expression.” It means a wise and prudent conception of things he CAN do and should do; while a component part of that self-reliance is a wise acceptance of good advice. There comes a time in everyone’s life when he must chart his own course. The difficulties he had in the beginning are the benefits in the dark hours. The capacity he possessed for thinking things out, by being himself and nobody else; by relying on himself and on nobody else will pilot him through a great many dangerous places. Our modern biography is eloquent of lives that started on the wrong road because they did not think the matter out; because they followed someone else, let someone else “help them” as they believed and then went to disaster. Be yourself. You can “specialize.” The specialist is one who relies on himself and believes that he does some things better than anyone else can do them. The specialist has thought it out and has gotten somewhere. Trouble with most people is that they don’t think the thing out and “arrive.” They waste a lot of time thinking to no end, indecisive and therefore inadequate. “Brilliant but indecisive” is the epitaph on the tombstone of many men who might have been Lincolns. Think it out and reach the just conclusion. Fate may reverse the decision now and then; but not always, if you are honest with your logic, rather than moved by your greed, passions, egoism, prejudice or envy. Too many people do not know how to sell their services, but they would if they knew themselves and relied on themselves. They sell themselves as bankrupt stock, when they ought to sell themselves as new and valuable goods. Be yourself; rely on yourself and when you write, write yourself, from inward outward and not the other way, from outward inward.

---Arthur Gray Staples, Lewiston Evening Journal, Lewiston, Me., Oct. 15, 1929.

Self-respect is born of self-reliance, and no prop of the state or of society can ever replace it in the building of character and self-dependence.

---George Matthew Adams, Waycross Journal-Herald, Waycross, Ga., Jan. 15, 1936.

To ask the government to do anything for us that we can do for ourselves means bigger government and a smaller people.

---Chelsea H. “C.H.” Kelley, Williamson Daily News, Williamson, W. Va., April 27, 1950.

The deadly nature of the dole virus is the poison that takes away initiative and weakens sense of responsibility.

---Burrows Matthews, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 9, 1935.

It would seem that self-reliance is largely a matter of character and temperament, and that it flourishes best in the soil of good family tradition, further favored by factors of environment conducive to stimulation and growth. To be confronted by disadvantages is not an advantage in itself unless one learns to take the measure of them and makes the best of them. Character is more than self-confidence.

---Burrows Matthews, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 17, 1933.

The overcoming of obstacles and the solution of problems involve the expenditure of energy that builds character, that increases the capacity of the individual. It was said by Benjamin Franklin “that to be thrown on one’s own resources is to be cast in the very lap of fortune; for our faculties undergo a development and a display of energy of which they were previously unsusceptible.” Remember that it is the pursuit of easy things that makes men weak. Our ancestors became a strong, virile people because they braved dangers, overcame and triumphed in the face of seeming impossibilities. The harder the climb up the mountain, the greater the thrill of triumph in the achievement. The first step towards independence and a successful life is taken when an individual resolves in his heart to live by his own exertions.

—Harold B. Lee, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 20, 1945.

My experience has taught me, and it has become a principle with me, that it is never any benefit to give out and out, to man or woman, money, food, clothing, or anything else, if they are able-bodied, and can work and earn what they need, when there is anything on the earth for them to do. This is my principle and I will try to act upon it. To pursue a contrary course would ruin any community in the world and make them idlers. People trained in this way have no interest in work, “but,” say they, “we can beg, or we can get this, that or the other.” No, my plan and counsel would be let every person able to work, work and earn what he needs.

—Brigham Young, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 13, 1867.

We must learn to be self-reliant and self-sustaining. To accomplish it requires a united effort, concerted action and perseverance, a long pull and a strong pull and a pull together. Disunion and pulling against each other will only retard it; we need never think we can truly enrich ourselves by plundering each other. We should look and see how we can make ourselves useful in producing something and not waste our time. Our true policy is, learn how to produce and be sure to produce a little more than we consume. It is a great lesson to impress upon the minds of the people, to induce them to support themselves and to depend upon their labor for their subsistence, instead of hunting for somebody to devour. Learn to live within our means, that there may be a little increase.

—Erastus Snow, Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Feb. 2, 1878.

Self-reliance and faith. Neither takes the place of the other. They must cooperate. Faith should make us more self-reliant, not less. That is, we should be more eager to do our best, more concerned lest we fail in any least particular.

---Edward R. Lewis, Western Christian Advocate, Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 28, 1926.

It is better to depend upon your own strength than upon your enemy’s weakness.

---Bennett Wilson “B.W.” Peck, Fulton County News, McConnelsburg, Pa., Jan. 1, 1903.

An ounce of confidence in yourself is worth more than a ton of dependence on other people.

‑‑‑Clarksville Leaf‑Chronicle, Clarksville, Tenn., Jan. 29, 1927.

The best lessons in self‑reliance are learned in the school of adversity.

‑‑‑Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Sept. 15, 1903.

The greatest loss any man has is the loss of self‑reliance.

‑‑‑Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 31, 1932.

Self‑reliance is the child of hard work.

-‑‑The Harlequin, New Orleans, La., Sept. 6, 1899.

It is a great deal better to let other people do your talking than it is to let them do your thinking for you.

‑‑‑Amboy News, Amboy, Ill., April 19, 1907.

The man in need can always find a helping hand–right at end of his arm!

Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee, Wis., Aug. 15, 1957.

The fellow who allows others to do his thinking for him should not complain when he finds himself in a mess.

‑‑‑Idaho County Free Press, Grangeville, Idaho, May 10, 1924.

You can rarely serve other people by doing all their thinking for them.

‑‑‑River Press, Fort Benton, Mont., Dec. 13, 1939.

"Self‑made" is simply "self‑reliant" grown up.

‑‑‑Y News, Provo, Utah, Dec. 17, 1924.

Each one of us, in his own way, needs to carry his own load, and don’t be leaning too much. In some way, somehow, make yourselves and your energies felt in the effort it takes to go forward in building your life and gaining your sustenance. Do things gratefully for one another, without grudge and without fear or favor, but carry your own part of the load, and continue your preparation, so that you can become more self-disciplined.

—Philo T. Farnsworth, Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 18, 1939.

There are certain responsibilities that go with talent, increasing as we progress down the highway of life. We should avoid as many detours as possible, but still we must be prepared for the detours and rough roads. ... The important thing is that we know where we want to go and keep traveling in the direction of our destination. ... As you plan for tomorrow and self-development, others cannot learn for you and others cannot work for you. These are things you must do for yourself as you develop your plan and the proper balance upon which you are to progress.

—J. Harold Dunn, 4-H Gold Star Award Banquet, Amarillo, Texas, Nov. 17, 1975.

Efficiency is self-reliance clothed with modesty. ... It is persistence plus politeness. ... It is the sum of the three quantities, purpose, practice and patience.

—Frank Crane, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., Jan. 21, 1918.

Be self-reliant so you can have self-respect. You are your responsibility. Someone asked "Why did the ram jump off the precipice?" He heard the song, "There will never be another you." Take care of yourself. You are your responsibility.

—Golden Driggs, As a Man Thinketh, Provo, Utah, April 13, 1970.

It has often been said that necessity is the mother of invention. It might be added that necessity is also the mother of resourcefulness. And it is resourcefulness which enables people to manage well. It helps them to accomplish things; it begets self-reliance.

—Amy Brown Lyman, The Relief Society Magazine, Salt Lake City, Utah, December 1946.

The lives of men who refuse to think for themselves are about as exciting as the minutes of the last meeting.

—W.A. MacKenzie, The Leesburg Morning Commercial, Leesburg, Fla., Jan. 14, 1927.

No man can succeed without self-reliance. A man cannot rely upon himself unless he knows that he can trust himself. This demands the discarding of any habit which is vicious and wrong and the disciplining of every function of the mind or body.

—T.W. Williams, Autumn Leaves, Independence, Mo., June 1924.

There is something about the situation of being thrown absolutely upon one's own resources, with no possibility of outside help, that calls out the greatest thing in a man, that brings out the last reserve of effort, just as a mighty emergency, a great fire or other catastrophe calls out powers which the victim never before dreamed he possessed. Self-reliance has been the best substitute for friends, influence, capital, assistance. It has mastered more obstacles, overcome more difficulties, carried through more enterprises, perfected more inventions, than any other human quality. The man who can stand alone, who is not afraid of difficulties, who believes in his own inherent power to do things--he is the man who will win.

—Orison Swett Marden, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., Oct. 29, 1919.

The degree of our self-reliance determines to what extent we are to be respected. It is a very good rule, if the self-respect does not work into self-conceit, and the dignity into unbearable haughtiness. A natural dignity, with a fine admixture of democracy, is best of all. It will wear well, allow you to smile and bring endless satisfaction.

—Frank Francis, Ogden Standard-Examiner, Ogden, Utah, Sept. 5, 1926.

We shall want to come to the close of every day with the self-reliance of having honestly worked.

—Louie D. Newton, Christian Index, Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 26, 1920.

Self-knowledge, self-respect and self-reliance are the trinity that will bring you truth.

—Elbert Hubbard, quoted in Deseret Evening News, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sept. 30, 1905.

Elbert Hubbard once said, "If you want to know who can help you most to achieve your goal in life–look in a mirror." The average person, wanting something that is difficult to attain, looks for someone to help him acquire it. He fails to realize that the biggest help he can get lies in his own personal initiative and resourcefulness. Once a man discovers the powers of his own imagination and ingenuity, he is well on the way to success. ...

You will find that self-reliance brings increased respect from other people. So few people really have this quality that it automatically elevates you in the eyes of those who go through life in timid frustration. This attitude is perfectly, logical, however. For have you any right to expect others to have faith in you if you have no faith in yourself? Everyone likes to be on the side of a winner. And by like token people are more likely to be on the side of a person who has confidence in his own ability to win. The principle which I call the law of harmonious attraction applies in this instance. Like attracts like in human relations. Poverty attracts more poverty. Failure attracts more failure. Success attracts more success. This doesn't mean that a phony front of prosperity will automatically bring you success. Of course not!

But it does mean that if you will demonstrate hopefulness and optimism and confidence, you will draw the same feelings from those with whom you come in contact. If you talk "poor-mouth," exuding nothing but pessimism and unhappiness, people generally will shun you. Or you will attract only that type of neurotic person who likes to wallow constantly in despair. Which type do you think is the most likely to help you win success? How can you gain self-reliance and self-confidence? Start by determining to make your own decisions, rather than depending on others to make them for you. Be willing to accept experienced advice, of course. But let the final decisions--and the responsibility for them--rest on your own shoulders.

As Elbert Hubbard suggested, take a long, hard look at that fellow you see in the mirror. Examine him critically. Does he know what he wants out of life? If not, he should decide now, and then apply his personal initiative to get it. You may get less from life than you desire. But you will never get more! It isn't defeat, but his mental attitude toward it, that often whips a person.

—Napoleon Hill, Houston Post, Houston, Texas, Nov. 28, 1956.

The School of Self-Reliance is such a wonderful school and brings out so much in us that we did not dream was there at all. It is a school which, sooner or later, every one of us must enter and the earlier we are forced to enter it just that much earlier will we prove our measure as men and women. It is so easy–such a rose-bordered, sunny, blue sky pathway to travel--to rely upon others for everything--to have our thoughts suggested by others. We've all known men and women who seem never to be able "to think for themselves" as the saying goes. Good, fine, likable, lovable men and women they are perhaps, but there is such an indefinable weakness there when they allow others to decide everything in life for them.

To become strong, to develop one's character in the fullest way one must acquaint independence in thought and though the boy who rebels at having his parents do everything for him--even arrange his thoughts and ideals--may be criticized for stubbornness and headstrongness and called several other unlovely names often hurled at immature things, it is a fine and dandy thing to find that that boy is learning to think for himself. And why shouldn't he? In the rag-doll, cereal-and-cream, sugar plum days of happy babyhood and little childhood it is right that the small kiddie should be led, firmly and gently, into the paths of thought and action which wise parents recognize through their wisdom are the paths for them to travel. But when a certain turn in the road appears it is high time that he man in the making and the [woman] in the making should begin to rely upon themselves. They must form the habit of thinking and seeing for themselves and not indulging in that weakest of courses--blind reliance upon others. No boy and no girl ever reached any worthwhile place along the winding, elusive road of life we call success until they begin to rely upon self.

Self-reliance is the equipment that every boy needs in his school days and his life out in the business world. It is one of the fundamentals. It is absolutely an essential. Unless he possesses this self-reliance he will never know the meaning of those valuable assets, confidence, fearlessness, initiative, persistence. And every girls needs it also whether she goes out into the busy, rushing workaday world to wrest her livelihood shoulder to shoulder with the men, or remains quietly beneath the shelter of home life. To be a good wife and mother and to be able to ably fill the role of homemaker she must be self-reliant. In whatever sphere of life our lot may be cast self-reliance we must have and the earlier we turn our faces toward that school the earlier we will be prepared to assume our share of the problems and responsibilities of life--that much sooner will we be real men and women grown--not immature beings in the making.

—Harriot Russell, Houston Daily Post, Houston, Texas, Feb. 12, 1916.

Men who impress the world as the most self-reliant are best aware of their own weaknesses.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., April 4, 1934.

Achievement doubles its reward by increasing self-reliance and efficiency.

The Chautauquan, Chautauqua, N.Y., March 1913.

Self-reliance is one of the best qualities, because it is, at last, the basis of man's freedom.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 30, 1904.

Self-reliance is the best quality of a free citizen who would continue free.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, March 11, 1906.

Knowledge may be power, but self-reliance is the lever.

Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Jan. 27, 1928.

Self-reliance is self-defense.

Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, Oct. 16, 1893.

Self-reliance is the very best of all the relief funds.

Galveston Daily News, Galveston, Texas, March 15, 1900.

Self-reliance is useless unless you have made yourself reliable.

Indiana Farmer's Guide, Huntington, Ind., Dec. 10, 1921.

Man must learn to think for himself–that is, when all men are thinking, civilization advances more rapidly. When the people stop thinking–are lulled to sleep by ease or cowed by fear–and the thinking is done by only a few individuals like rulers, then civilization is retarded.

—Joseph H. Appel, The Making of a Man, New York, N.Y., 1921.


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