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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


Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Even though we were poor, at the lowest level, even below the lowest economic level, we were always excited. It was rich in the sense that we had a lot to look up to, to look forward to, a lot to aspire to, a lot to dream about. But in economic circumstances it was desperate. It was Calcutta with rain. At least they're warm in Calcutta. But it was desperate because of certain things, ingredients like my father being an alcoholic, my mother having too many babies in too short a time, no work available in Ireland, and even when my father did get a job he drank the wages. Then there was the harsh kind of schooling we had with school masters who ruled with a stick and then because of the overwhelming presence of the church, which imbued us with fear all the time. So it was fear, dampness, poverty, alcoholism, fear of the church, fear of the school masters, fear in general.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

There was no lolling about the floor. It was getting up in the morning at 6:30 to take the ferry to Staten Island to McKee Vocational High School, and to go into a class -- five classes of tough kids who were not a bit interested in what I had to say, so I had to hook them, and I was thrown into this. As I told you before, I had no high school education myself. I had never been in a high school so I had to -- I was -- nobody told me what to do. They just threw me into the classroom and here I was in front of these American teenagers who were a species from another world from me.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

One morning I was taking the train from Brooklyn into Manhattan, where I got the ferry to go out to Staten Island, and I was getting off the train at Whitehall Street, stepping off the train and on to the platform, and this thought came into my head, "You could decide today to be happy. You could just make a decision, instead of going in fear and trembling into the classroom." Now it's easy to say that, and it doesn't always work, but I realized that I was resisting some kind of gloom, gravity, that most of us, most of the time, we look on the dark side, I think, but you have to work at lifting yourself up but I tried it that day. It was the beginning of that kind of practice.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

It wasn't that I was rebelling against the imprisonment of a vocation that wasn't for me. I liked the people I worked with. I went in every day very eager to do whatever we had to do. I was an editor then at American Heritage Publishing Company, but I had an idea for a book, and I began working on it at nights, and on weekends, and on vacations, and it took me three years. And when that book was published it had a reception -- both critically and publicly, with the reading public -- that was far beyond what I had expected. And at that point, I decided that I would cut loose and try it on my own. And, because I had a wonderful partner, editor-in-chief, wife, who was equally willing to take that risk -- biggest risk we ever took. I did it. Had I not had someone in my life who was as willing as I was to take the step, I might not have done it.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

For me, the best way for me to maintain the concept of evolution and creativity is to constantly find something that's a challenge. When I'm being offered something, or I've got to put food on the table -- I've got a family, I've got to put food on the table -- but this is what I do as a living, and it's my calling. Whatever So for me it's like, "What is going to challenge me?" I'll have a couple of options, and whatever is the scariest is almost always what I end up choosing, because I figure that's where there's something to be learned. And where there's something to be learned there's evolution. So I'm always looking for a challenge.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

You don't want to fall in your face, and you know that you probably will. But if you do somehow get through that challenge, look at what you're going to have learned, and look at what you're going to know. I was scared to death to do Bess in Porgy and Bess, and I thought I wouldn't survive it. I thought I'd kill myself vocally. I thought -- especially because we were attempting to put it in a more musical theater genre again as opposed to the operatic -- I knew the slings and arrows that were headed our way, and I thought, "And I left a really healthy television show in California to do this." I came back to go home, and left a really healthy paycheck and all that, to not only be with my family, but then also to pursue this Porgy and Bess. Because it scared the bejesus out of me, and because I knew that if I get past this, or even if I am just the slightest bit better as an actress -- or even a singer, or even a classical singer -- for having done this, it will be worth it. So there you go.
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