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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


Tom Clancy

Best-Selling Author

Tom Clancy: You've got to believe in what you're doing. The people I write about -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, cops, special agents of the FBI, field officers for the CIA -- are very often people who are in the business of risking their lives for other people whom they do not know. And the fact of the matter is that a person does not risk his life very often for things in which he or she does not believe. You do not risk death for money very often. You do not risk death for things in which you do not believe very often. The reason you put it on the line is because you think you're making the world a better place for having done so. Probably the most useful people in the world are the romantics, the people with the mindset of a poet, who see the world the way they wish it to be and try to make it so. If you examine people who have the Medal of Honor, you will find very often that what drove them was not courage as we understand it, but rage. They simply would not accept things as they were, and did everything in their power to change it. Probably the people I most admire in the world are the docs and the nurses who take care of critically ill children. That probably requires more courage than anything I have ever encountered. I have had the privilege of meeting seven people with the Medal of Honor and those are pretty special fellows. But not one of them did something that required more than a few hours of great, courageous effort. I know docs who've been treating critically ill children for 20 years. And they're not just risking their lives, they're risking their souls. They're risking their faith in God, their sanity, to do what they do. And yet they press on, because they have a very precise sense of mission. Their mission is to keep children alive. They enter into this employment in the knowledge that very often they will fail. Despite which, they press on. That's passion. That's believing in what you are doing. That's knowing that what you are doing is important. That even if you just save the life of one child, you've done something worth doing.
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Tom Clancy

Best-Selling Author

Tom Clancy: The only way to avoid risk is not to do anything. And that method of avoiding risk also carries a price that you are avoiding success as well. Attempting to succeed necessarily means risking failure, and all too many people do not do that, because they're afraid to fail. Well, failure is nothing to be afraid of. Not taking the chance, not trying, not going after your dream, that's something to be afraid of. There is one thing in life that scares the hell out of me, and that's turning 65 and looking in the mirror and telling myself, "You should have done that when you had the chance, but you didn't have the guts to try." And that's something I'm really afraid of, as a result of which I do lots of foolish things, because probably the only real failure a person can know is the failure to try. Why be afraid of failing? Because even when you fail you're trying to do something. There's a great quote from Teddy Roosevelt, " the poor unhappy souls who will know neither victory nor defeat " because they never tried. I don't want to be one of those.
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Tom Clancy

Best-Selling Author

Tom Clancy: I got closely involved with a kid who died of cancer on August the first of this year. He was eight years old. I got to know him in about March or April of 1990, and he died August first of 1991. We got to be real close. He was my friend in a way that's kind of hard to express. I went down to Disney World when Make A Wish sent him to Disney World. I went down for four days to be his tour guide. And I saw him in the hospital during the last American Academy meeting in New York. I went over to see him at Sloan Kettering. And I was there when they buried him. I wish I'd gotten involved sooner with kids like that. Because, although it does hurt a great deal when you lose them -- and it was probably the most painful experience of my life -- the rewards you get for knowing them, for having fun with them, and for trying to brighten their lives, is probably the best thing I've ever known in my life.
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Johnnetta Cole

Past President of Spelman College

Professionally, of course, I've had disappointments. And I would say that the most painful for me was recently when, coming out of my work with President Clinton on the Transition Team, I served as the Cluster Coordinator for Education, and for Labor, and for the Arts. I was literally attacked. Attacked in the media, called names that I knew didn't belong to me. Accused of things that I knew that I had not done. It's a very painful experience to be attacked. It's not pleasant to look at a newspaper and to see people saying untruths. But it's in moments like that that I think one really comes to grips with the absolute core of who you are as a person. And it's also in moments like that, that you really discover the extraordinary power of friendships, of collegial relationships.
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Johnnetta Cole

Past President of Spelman College

The charges that were leveled against me, I found it important to say very little. The folk who spoke were amazingly effective in saying how they perceive me. The Atlanta Jewish community, responding to some unbelievable charge that I was practicing anti-Semitism. The Atlanta business community, responding to a charge that I was a communist. And so, others spoke up. And I think the lesson to be learned there is that when we are connected to folk who are being charged unfairly, it is our responsibility to speak up.
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Francis Collins

Presidential Medal of Freedom

I was kind of in a crisis. Here I was, already had a kid who was a couple of years old, and I was facing the idea of starting over again, and what to do. And I was pretty shaken up about whether research was the right thing for me or not. So I considered many options, and stayed up many nights wondering which was right. And finally decided, even though it had not been a childhood dream at all, that medicine was a really interesting option for me. That it would allow me to learn about the life sciences and see if there was something there that really grabbed my fancy in the way of research. But if that didn't happen, I knew I loved working with people. I knew I had this urge to try to do something for other human beings, an urge that I hadn't been able to experience quite in the way I wanted to in the physical sciences. And if I just ended up being a doc out in the hills somewhere, that would be okay too.
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Francis Collins

Presidential Medal of Freedom

Boy, I can remember when I first got into science, in genetics in a serious way, I felt the clock was ticking and I just had to do something meaningful. And I had to prove myself in short order, or everybody would figure out that I was really clueless and I had no talent, and was not going to pan out. And the first few months everything I tried failed. And I would go home at night just feeling so depressed and so discouraged and wondering, "Should I just quit?" I still remember that sort of intense feeling of failure. Not to say that I've gotten any better at this, I still fail at the same rate, but I think I've learned that that just comes with the territory. And it's okay to fail at the experiment. It doesn't mean you've failed as a human being. One has to learn that.
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