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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Benjamin Carson

Pediatric Neurosurgeon

Benjamin Carson: My mother worked as a domestic, two, sometimes three jobs at a time because she didn't want to be on welfare. She felt very strongly that if she gave up and went on welfare, that she would give up control of her life and of our lives, and I think she was probably correct about that. And, so she worked very hard. Sometimes we didn't see her for several days at a time, because she would go to work at five in the morning and get back after 11:00 p.m., going from one job to the next. But, one thing that she provided us was a tremendous example of what hard work is like, and she was also extremely thrifty. She would go to the Goodwill, she'd get a shirt that had a hole and put a patch on it and put another one on the other side to make it look symmetrical, and she sewed her own clothes. She would take us out in the country on a Sunday and knock on a farmer's door and say, "Can we pick four bushels of corn, three for you and one for us?" and they were always glad at that deal. And she'd come home and she'd can the stuff, so that we would have food. She was just extremely thrifty and managed to get by that way. No one ever could quite figure out how she was able to do what she did. She would drive a car until it fell apart, and then she would buy a new car because she saved every dime and every nickel, stuck it under the mattress, and when it came time, years later, to buy a new car, she could do it. And, the neighbors said "What is it with this woman? What is she doing?" Because our mother was a very attractive woman and they figured, you know, she was selling her body and doing all kinds of things like that. But in fact, she had to endure that kind of ridicule, as well as work extremely hard. But, she figured it would pay off in the long run.
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Benjamin Carson

Pediatric Neurosurgeon

Benjamin Carson: The American dream to me means that you have the ability to determine where you're going. You have the ability to formulate your dream, and you have the ability to put in motion all the building blocks that will help you to achieve it. And I am so grateful that I was born in America because I've had the opportunity to travel throughout the world, and I must say sometimes it's exciting to go to Paris, or go to Egypt or to go anywhere else, China. But, there's no place like home, and there's no place that really affords you the same types of opportunities that we have. And it's just a matter of how hard we want to work, and I would go so far as to say, in America, you can take somebody who is very successful, who has the right mind set, and you can take everything away from him and put him on the street and make him be a bum, and they'll be right back up there in a couple of years because all it requires is the right mind set and the willingness to work. And, people who realize that are already halfway there, to realizing their American dream.
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Jimmy Carter

Nobel Prize for Peace

What I pointed out was that our nation had been faced in years leading up to that time with severe challenges and blows: the loss of the war in Vietnam, the assassination of President Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.; the Watergate scandals, where a president had to resign in disgrace; the revelations that the CIA had deliberately plotted murder. These were blows to our country. But I thought the resilience of our nation was sufficient to overcome that kind of difficulty, and that we needed to look at ourselves and see where is the strength of our country. And the purpose of the speech, I said that we are faced with an energy crisis. We are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign oil; our nation's security is in danger. It's not a politically popular thing to do something about this, to save energy, to conserve. But I believed that our country was strong enough to do it. And that was the purpose and the essence of the speech. But the political opponents just took the negative side, that we had serious problems, and characterized it as it never was, as a "malaise speech." We still suffer malaise in this country, and I'll use the word this time. But what gnaws at the vitals of our nation are the unsolved problems of juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancy, school dropouts, drug addiction, homelessness, joblessness. We don't know in this country the extent of these problems, and we cover our eyes. It's more convenient not to look at them. I think this country obviously has the ability, as no other nation in the world does, to address those problems successfully. That's going to be a major part of my own work the next four, five or more years. Just to show that in Atlanta, Georgia, we can marshal all the resources in our community and bring about a simultaneous addressing of these human problems and see if we can do something about them. It's a kind of thing that is not only an affliction on a nation or in a community, but a wonderful opportunity to show the strength and idealism and benevolence of American people.
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Jimmy Carter

Nobel Prize for Peace

Jimmy Carter: I think it's a choice of what kind of leadership the United States wants to provide in the world. It's defining, in our country, the definition of greatness. What is a great nation? It's obvious that we are now the only superpower. There is no more Soviet Union as we've known it. We will have an unchallenged, open, panoramic opportunity on a global scale to demonstrate the finest aspects of what we know in this country: peace, freedom, democracy, human rights, benevolent sharing, love, the easing of human suffering. Is that going to be our list of priorities or not? I don't see any indication yet, after the Soviet Union has disintegrated, that our country is adopting these kinds of concepts as the thrust of our nation's influence. I hope that will come. And that's a challenge to our country that I see as greatest. What are the decisions going to be? We can drift along as though there were still a Cold War, wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons that will never be used, ignoring the problems of people in this country and around the world, being one of the worst environmental violators on earth, standing against any sort of viable programs to protect the world's forests, or to cut down on acid rain or the global warming or ozone depletion. We can ignore human rights violations in other countries. Or we can take on these things as a true leader ought to and say, "This is the inspiring challenge of America for the future."
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

Steve Case: I think it's really about hope and optimism and possibility. I think a great example -- because we happen to be talking when Ronald Reagan passed away, and this has been a week celebrating his life. I think he is the prototypical example of the American dream. Somebody who came up from modest beginnings, had a certain perspective on life and was an actor, when people didn't necessarily think he could act or that he should act, and then moved from that into a position of leadership in the Motion Picture Association, and then decided to move into politics as governor and then president. I think most people would have to say -- whether you liked his politics or didn't -- that he in his 93 years on earth lived an extraordinary life and really is an example of the boundless possibilities and optimism of America.
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Steve Case

Co-Founder, America Online

I find it interesting that in America, even though most people are more optimistic and most people around the world do view America as the city on the hill and more entrepreneurial and more risk taking and less traditional, still in America most people don't take risks, and most people are pretty traditional. It's actually a relatively small number of people that really are those risk takers, and a relatively small number of people that end up really having an impact on the world, and it doesn't take a lot of people. It just takes a few people who really care and stick with it, and that I think is what America is about. I think that's one of the things that's great really about The American Academy of Achievement, really shining a spotlight on that notion that anything is possible, but it starts with somebody having a dream and sticking with that through thick and thin.
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