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Quotations for Motivation #39 --- Ideals

Updated on November 11, 2015

Quotations on Ideals

There is a tremendous youth retaining power in the holding of high ideals and lofty sentiments. The spirit cannot grow old while one is constantly aspiring to something better, higher, and nobler. Intellectual employment, mental exercise on lofty themes, and concentration on high purposes, are powerful preservatives of youth. It is the senility of the soul, aging of the mind, not of the body, that makes people old. The body is young or old, harmonious or discordant, beautiful or coarse, according to the quality of the mind, and the habit of thought. It is impossible for the body to express anything which does not first live in the thought.

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

There is nothing more insidious than the gradual decline or dripping of standards, the slipping away of the ideal from one’s grasp, the gradual evaporation of ambition.

---Orison Swett Marden, The Citizen, Berea, Ky., Sept. 14, 1905.

Loyalty to ideals is the measure of significance of all human careers.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 8, 1935.

No great victory ever was achieved by a compromise or sacrifice of ideals.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Oct. 10, 1954.

Ideals are like stars, ever beyond our reach but never beyond our aspiration.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 5, 1960.

A man is also known by the company he foregoes and the ideals he keeps.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., May 30, 1963.

One’s life savings do not amount to a very great deal unless they include well-preserved ideals.

---Edmund J. Kiefer, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 27, 1967.

Ideals are the parents of the real.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Aberdeen Herald, Aberdeen, Wash., Aug. 31, 1905.

Circumstance is less potent than ideals.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minn., Oct. 28, 1899.

Ideals are more potent than prizes.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minn., Feb. 15, 1902.

Life is a man’s opportunity for the realization of his ideals.

---Elijah Powell Brown, Duluth Evening Herald, Duluth, Minn., Oct. 18, 1902.

Only when a man loses himself in a great ideal will he do ideal things.

---George R. Gebauer, Duluth Herald, Duluth, Minn., March 30, 1914.

High ideals won’t get you very high unless you have some ideas to accompany them.

---John Merrill Chilcote, St. Joseph News-Press, St. Joseph, Mo., April 29, 1965.

You soon cease improving if you do not keep your ideals ahead of your accomplishments.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Aug. 27, 1927.

He who has lost his ideal has lost his plan of life.

---Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Dec. 9, 1933.

Almost anyone can show capacities he never suspected in himself if he finds an inspiring ideal.

‑‑‑Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., March 2, 1931.

The worst depression is not to lose a business, but to lose our ideals.

---Roy L. Smith, Buffalo Courier-Express, Buffalo, N.Y., Nov. 26, 1932.

Achievement is practiced ideals.

‑‑‑Gloria Young, Baptist Standard, Dallas, Texas, Aug. 4, 1938.

Ideals must be transformed from the abstract to the concrete of they become moral opiates. They who have succeeded are they who have so lived that they have taught men and nations how to live.

---S. Parkes Cadman, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 2, 1929.

Our ideals control our motives, animate our actions, shape our characters and commit us to our destiny. It matters nothing to what calling or business we belong. We are in essence what those ideals make us. They linger with us so long as we endeavor to express them. But the moment we discard them, they leave us to our fate. Beware of consigning them to the storehouse of memory or the morgue or pretension.

---S. Parkes Cadman, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Brooklyn, N.Y., Dec. 28, 1931.

Too often we strive for ideals far from the best and consequently render untrue verdicts of our own lives and the lives of others. You must remember that in the man there are three men, the physical, the mental and the spiritual. Do not let one develop at the expense of another, but be threefold men and women. We must all know what failure is. Do not fail in the same way more than once, but let every failure be a stepping stone. As the years gather, be able to look back over a long road at those places where you fell as the most inspiring events of your life. Whatever blow you strike, let it be for advancement. Too many are discouraged by small difficulties. Do not give up because of some little mistake or blunder. Know that honesty is not a thing to be ashamed of and that it is an essential to success. Learn to live by law rather than rule. Men who work by rule accomplish little. Beware him who is content with half, and get in the habit of doing your best or trying to do your best. If you fail in trying you will do better when you succeed.

---James E. Talmage, Salt Lake Telegram, Salt Lake City, Utah, May 31, 1909.

We should not be satisfied with anything less than the highest ideals. We must not be satisfied with second best. If you aim high, though you may not hit the mark, you will reach higher than you would if your aim was too low. In character building, we do not build better than we know. High principles are the results of high purposes.

---Abram Duryee, Christian Intelligencer, New York, N.Y., April 28, 1920.

The best way to judge a man is not by his achievements but by his ideals. Our ideals give direction and impetus to our lives.

—Charles L. Allen, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., May 28, 1960.

An ideal is a goal, determining the direction in which one moves, no matter how slowly, and the character of each decision.

—M. Ashby Jones, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., May 14, 1944.

An ideal is a picture that we form of what we should be or how we should act. ... The most important thing about any ideal is that it be to at least some degree attainable. By its very definition an ideal is something that we never expect to attain fully. Nevertheless, our ideal, if not a fully attainable goal, must at least be one toward which we can make progress. We must feel that we are headed in the right direction. True enough, our progress may be hindered by reverses and setbacks; we may find ourselves getting bogged down along the way, but these things need not do us permanent harm as long as we remain convinced that some sort of headway and progress toward our ideal is always possible. It's when the ideal is looked upon as something quite unattainable, something that cannot even be approached, that permanent damage is done. For we are bound to reason within ourselves that it is completely useless and impracticable to take steps toward an ideal that floats beyond us at an impossible distance.

—Charles Murray Clayton, North-Central Louisiana Register, Alexandria, La., July 3, 1959.

Cynicism is the atrophy that comes from refusing to realize our own ideals.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., July 12, 1908.

Ideals live only as we strive toward them.

—Henry F. Cope, Chicago Tribune, Chicago, Ill., Jan. 30, 1910.

May I suggest that each one of us hold fast to his ideals; we cannot afford to compromise them, even for any little favor that might come to us. Don’t get discouraged when people fall short of your ideals, but each one of us should move in the direction of holding tenaciously to those things which we know are good and true and fair.

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

No man can be great who does not have great ideals. No man with great ideals can strive to reach them if he does not accept a sense of responsibility.

—W. Angie Smith, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, May 24, 1943.

Ideals are living principles. The fretful and fastidious people of this world are always on the lookout for ideal conditions. Nothing else will satisfy them. They are restless, rebellious, dissatisfied, always complaining and always comparing, talking eternally about the way things "ought to be," and never once seeing how they might be. Ideals are never found to be in conditions unless we recognize the principle which that condition expresses, and which makes the quality of that condition.

—Lillie Hamilton French, Delineator, New York, N.Y., February 1904.

The ideals are the intellectual vision of life. The purpose of the serious aim and determination is to realize this ideal. Power is the means by which the vision is actualized.

—John H. Keene, Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, June 8, 1913.

The acquisition of ideas, ... emotionalized into ideals, is [a] most important development to be attained. Our ideas cause us to act as we do. Our ideals are the remote goals which direct us in our whole trend of life activities. These ideals are our standards–our criteria of life, which we consciously strive to attain. They determine the final outcome of every individual life. No one ever rises above his ideals.

—W.H. Sumrall, Baptist Record, Jackson, Miss., Sept. 3, 1931.

Ideals are the warp and woof out of which imagination weaves the fabric of character. ...

An ideal is a picture of a supposed or actual possibility of realization. Whether it is ever realized or not depends upon the vividness of the ideal and the purposeful effort tending to make it a fact of life. ...

Furnish definite objectives for life. We need to have a clear conception of the purpose and possibility of life. We need to look far into the future and have goals which we see possible of attainment, else we will be negative and indifferent as to opportunities and obligations. ...

Blaze the course of life. Our ideas determine the path we travel. A great deal depends upon the direction of our life–whether it is upward or downward. ...

The low ideals must be neglected and eliminated while the high ideals must be cherished and cultivated. This is a part of the responsibility to keep fresh before the mind the better side of life, and this is done largely by cherishing wholesome ideals. ...

We must put into practice our ideals.

—J.M. Gurley, The Western Messenger, Kansas City, Mo., May 7, 1920.

Ideals determine the course of human life. No one rises above his ideals. They overtop power, wealth and education. “As a man thinketh, so is he,” and as his ideals are, so he does. Ideals are a safe measure of man. Ideals form the horizon of our vision; they are the standards of our actions, our highest conceptions; they represent that which we desire to become, the goals in the game of life. To be serviceable, ideals must be fostered. They must be used, that is, one must strive to attain them, otherwise they die. That is the first law in the kingdom of ideals. The second is equally important. They must be constantly growing. They cannot be high today and low tomorrow, else they suffer corruption.

—John A. Widtsoe, Millennial Star, Liverpool, England, Oct. 2, 1930.

An ideal that does not inspire effort is not a real ideal. It is one which we merely imagine that we possess. The real castle in the air is not a mirage that flees from pursuit. It is the sort of thing that comes near to those who approach it. If our visions of the future are the kind they ought to be, we will struggle for their attainment until they are no longer idle dreams, but real possibilities. The dreamer who allows his air castle to be mere fantasies forever, is not awake to the great possibilities of human thought and effort. For all practical purposes he is not alive, but dead.

—Harlan Read, Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville, Tenn., Nov. 24, 1911.

Men are great, not because they are able to attain something they want--but because they want something they have not attained. Greatness is not situated at a goal–it does not lie at the terminus. It is in the soul of a man and exists both before and after the accomplishment of every noteworthy deed. Great men do not retire from greatness because they can't. Backsliding is a characteristic of men who have never been truly great, and is a proof of it.

—Harlan Read, Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville, Tenn., March 22, 1912.

In order to help make a community, a nation or a world a better place in which to live, one must have some mental picture of that which he conceives to be the best. It is the distance between what is and what he believes ought to be. That is to determine the strength of his effort, the range of his endeavor and the frame of his personal influence. It is this picture of what ought to be which will determine the character of his work. What ought to be will challenge those faculties of one's personality which are necessary to change what is. Only those forces of one's soul needed to accomplish a work which he believes ought to be done will be awakened. A small work will beget a small man. So the picture of what one believes he ought to do in the world is, after all, the picture of the man who will attempt its accomplishment. Thus one's ideal becomes a prophecy of one's personality.... An ideal to become of value must be translated into a program. Such an ideal not only furnishes the urge and the enthusiasm, but determines the direction of a life.

—M. Ashby Jones, The Atlanta Constitution, Atlanta, Ga., May 30, 1926.

The grander the ideal, the more courage and patience it takes to live up to it. ... You can school your very human ambition to achievement so that when you have done a brilliant task and get scanty credit, and see the plaudits go elsewhere, you can put the same zest into the next task. That takes a man's greatest courage. ... The more achievement, the more work. Practicality tells us that when you want anything done get a busy man to do it.

—Arthur B. Kinsolving, New York Times, New York, New York, June 8, 1931.

An ideal must be fixed and permanent if we want progress.

—H.W. Knickerbocker, Houston Post-Dispatch, Houston, Texas, July 4, 1927.

"Not at the top, but climbing," was the motto of a graduating class in a high school. Another graduating class had for its motto, "Ever Onward."

Both mottoes are excellent, stimulating, inspiring. Each suggests growth. Each means that whoever would live up to it must keep growing, improving constantly, that he must ever choose upward. ...

It is pathetic to discover, after one reaches the age of maturity, that he has dwarfed his whole career, strangled his ability and stifled his chance in life by not properly preparing for it. There is no excuse for anyone in this country risking such an experience.

Personal equipment is one's life capital, and no one can afford to start on his career half equipped, half educated, half trained, any more than a man can afford to go into business without the proper equipment. Supposing the best kind of businessman were to open a store in a liquidated building, not properly equipped in any respect, with no show windows for the display of goods and no facilities of any sort, and an inefficient buyer, who lacked taste and who was not particular about the quality of goods he bought, do you think he would succeed? Why, you know very well that the red flag would be over the door of that establishment in a very short time. Now, the youth who starts on his career half equipped, half trained, poorly educated, so that he is always placed at a great disadvantage, is similarly situated. He is foredoomed to failure, for the best opportunities are attracted to the best mental equipment, the most superbly trained brain.

Young people little realize their fearful loss through lack of special preparation for their life work. Tens of thousands of employees are receiving but one quarter of what their natural ability would command if it had been properly developed and specialized in one direction. It is pitiable to see these young men and young women earning their living by only a little bit of themselves, by only the fringes of their ability, by calling into play the merest fraction of their powers, because they have not specialized their ability. Multitudes are thus getting their living by their weakness instead of by their strength, because they ability has not been specialized. A motto which expresses an ideal often determines a whole destiny. A single motto or maxim has been the turning point in many a career. The value of a high ideal, crystallized on one uplifting sentence, constantly held in mind, can hardly be estimated. How often has it encouraged one to look up and on when tempted to look down and back! How often has it led one to soar when tempted to grovel!

Thousands of people have been held to their tasks by an inspiring motto, when for the lack of it failure or discouragement would certainly have turned them back.

I have never known a person who made it a life rule not to give way to discouragement, but to do his level best, everywhere and always, who did not make his life a masterpiece. And nothing helps more to keep one up to his best than trying to model his conduct and work on a high ideal. Nothing so strengthens the mind and enlarges the horizon of manhood and womanhood as a constant effort to measure up to a worthy ambition. It strengthens the thought to a larger measure and touches the life to finer issues.

—Orison Swett Marden, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., July 1, 1918.

Lincoln once said: "Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be true or not, I can say that I have none other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men by rendering myself worthy of their esteem."

What do we owe to people who have raised the ideals of those about them by trying to do something better, to live a little finer life, who were not content to jog along in the same old run, but determined to get up higher!

The ideals of an individual or a nation measure the actual condition and the future possibilities and probabilities. The realization of our power to create ideals and to make these live in reality is destined to revolutionize the world.

Someone says: "The ideal which one possesses, or which possesses one, comes to control him, so as to lift him up or drag him down, in spite of all other influences leading in another direction." Therefore, it becomes extremely important that a man's ideals should be worthy ideals, uplifting him in his aspirations and endeavors.

Nothing so strengthens the mind, enlarges manhood or womanhood, widens the thought, as the constant effort to measure up to high ideals.

"Your circumstances may be uncongenial," says James Allen, "but they shall not long remain so if you but perceive an ideal and strive to reach it. You cannot travel within and stand still without.

"Here is a youth hard pressed by poverty and labor; confined long hours in an unhealthy workshop; unschooled and lacking all the arts of refinement. But he dreams of better things; he thinks of intelligence, of refinement, of grace and beauty. He conceives of, mentally builds up, an ideal condition of life.

"Years later we see this youth as a full grown man. We find him a master of certain forces of the mind which he wields with worldwide influence and almost unequaled power. In his hands he holds the cords of gigantic responsibilities. He has realized the vision of his youth. He has become one with his ideal."

No matter what your condition may be, if you keep your mind fixed on better conditions and positively refuse to see anything but success and achievement ahead, if you are flinging your whole life into your efforts to make your dream come true, no matter how unpromising the outlook and prospects, your own will come to you by an unerring law.

But before a man can lift himself he must lift his thought. Man never reaches heights above his habitual thought. When we shall have learned to master our thought habits, to keep our minds open to the great divine inflow of life force, we shall have learned the secret of human blessedness. Then a new era will dawn for the race.

—Orison Swett Marden, The Chicago Daily News, Chicago, Ill., April 7, 1919.

The most satisfactory [dictionary] definition of the word ideal is: "A standard of practice; an ultimate object or aim; a mental conception of what is most desirable." It is seldom that our ideals are attained, but one cannot accomplish much, unless the standard is the product of lofty conceptions. We cannot act on a higher plane than we think; we cannot do greater things than we aim to do; and we cannot reach higher places than we seek. All aspirations and purposes must first be conceived in our minds. Every battle must be fought in our own minds, before it is won in reality.

—A.L. Ponder, The Baptist Chronicle, Alexandria, La., June 11, 1903.

Men have ideals and they make the variety of elements which enter into their lives serve them in the realization of those ideals. This requires thought, alertness, activity, genius. Men do not just happen to be great. I say great. I did not say rich. I did not say occupy some position of responsibility and honor. I say again, men do not happen to be great. A man may inherit his fortune. A man may just happen to “strike it rich.” But men become great because they have the elements of greatness in them and because they have the genius of transmitting the elements which enter into their lives into more greatness. They think and plan and watch and utilize every power that they can touch. That means untiring activity and sometimes untold self-denial and struggle.

—Francis Burgette Short, Salt Lake Herald-Republican, Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 2, 1911.

He who has lost his ideal has lost his plan of life.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Dec. 9, 1933.

A man's ideal is his own hope of surviving mediocrity.

—Roy L. Smith, Tampa Morning Tribune, Tampa, Fla., Oct. 15, 1936.

Longing is often the whip that drives us on toward our ideals.

—H. Curran Wilbur, Wheeling Register, Wheeling, W.Va., Feb. 22, 1903.

It has been my experience that one can best attain those highest ideals of human yearning when the commonplace, routine duties are daily performed; when every opportunity, great and small, is seized and worked into the structure we have set about to build.

—William Spry, Improvement Era, Salt Lake City, Utah, October 1912.


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