Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Action

"Words without action are void of substance." -

"Serenity of spirit and turbulence of action should make up the sum of a man's life." - Vita Sackville-West, fully The Hon Victoria Mary Sackville-West, Lady Nicolson

"The time which passes over our heads so imperceptibly makes the same gradual change in habits, manners and character as in personal appearance. At the revolution of every five years we find ourselves another and yet the same - there is a change of views and no less of the light in which we regard them; a change of motives as well as of action." -

"When is a man free? Now when he is driftwood on the stream of life... free of all cares or worries or ambitions... He is not free at all... To be free in action, in struggle, in undiverted and purposeful achievement, to move forward towards a worthy objective across a fierce terrain of resistance, to be vital and allow in the exercise of a great enterprise - that is to be free, and to know the joy and exhilaration of true freedom. A man is free only when he has an errand on earth." - Abba Hillel Silver

"Better that we should err in action than wholly refuse to perform. The storm is so much better than the calm, as it declares the presence of a living principle. Stagnation is something worse than death. It is corruption also." - William Gilmore Simms

"When you cannot make up your mind which of two evenly balanced courses of action you should take - choose the bolder." - William Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, fully Field Marshal Sir William Joseph "Bill" Slim

"True courage scorns to vent her prowess in a storm of words; and to the valiant action speaks alone." - Tobias Smollett, fully Tobias George Smollett

"Virtue is action in accord with the laws of one's own nature.." -

"Enthusiasm gives life to what is invisible, and interest to what has no immediate action on our comfort in this world." -

"Thought can never be compared with action, but when it awakens in us the image of truth." -

"Count the day lost, whose low descending sun views from thy hand no worthy action done." - Leland Stanford, fully Amasa Leland Stanford

"The only true method of action in this world is to be in it, but not of it." - Madame Swetchine, fully Anne Sophie Swetchine née Sophia Petrovna Soïmonov or Soymanof

"The end of all knowledge should be in virtuous action." -

"If anger be the basis of our political activities, the excitement tends to become an end in itself, at the expense of the object to be achieved. side issues then assume an exaggerated importance, and all gravity of thought and action is lost; such excitement is not an exercise of strength, but a display of weakness." -

"Our nature is obscured by work done by the compulsion of want or fear. The mother reveals herself in the service of her children, so our true freedom is not the freedom from action but freedom in action, which can only be attained in the work of love." -

"Habits are the daughters of action, but then they nurse their mother, and produce daughters after her image, but far more beautiful and prosperous. " - Jeremy Taylor

"When we have practiced good action awhile, they become easy; when they are easy, we take pleasure in them; when they please us, we do them frequently; and then, by frequency of act, they grow into a habit." - John Tillotson, Archbishop of Canterbury

"Man is to know himself, and with full command of his conditions and unlimited time for action, is not only to soar toward, but absolutely attain to heights of being and of beauty hitherto undreamed of, and bringing fairly within his realization a heaven on earth, in true grandeur and happiness as far transcending the heaven of the orthodox Christian as that heaven transcends the heaven of the savage." - Paul Tyner

"If a person is indecisive about which of two courses of action to take, the question to ask himself is: “Which choice will bring more honor to the Almighty?” The reply to this question is the path to choose." - Shmuel Tzvi of Alexander, fully Admor Shmuel Tzvi Dantziger from Alexander, aka Samuel Alexander

"Mere sorrow, which weeps and sits still, is not repentance. Repentance is sorrow converted into action; into a movement toward a new and better life." - M. R. Vincent

"Delude not yourself with the notion that you may be untrue and uncertain in trifles and in important things the contrary. Trifles make up existence, and give the observer the measure by which to trust; and the fearful power of habit, after a time, suffers not the best will to ripen into action." - Carl Maria von Weber, fully Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst, Freiherr (Baron) von Weber

"A generous action is its own reward." - William Walsh

"Delude not yourself with the notion that you may be untrue and uncertain in trifles and in important things the contrary. Trifles make up existence, and give the measure by which to try us; and the fearful power of habit, after a time, suffers not the best will to ripen into action." - Carl Maria von Weber, fully Carl Maria Fredrich Ernst von Weber

"If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work upon bronze, time will efface it; if we build temples, they will crumble into dust; but if we work upon immortal souls, if we imbue them with just principles of action, with fear of wrong and love of right, we engrave on those tables something which no time can obliterate, and which will brighten and brighten through all eternity." - Daniel Webster

"The chiefest action for a man of spirit is never to be out of action; the soul was never put into the body to stand still." - John P. Webster

"I give nothing as duties. What others give as duties I give as living impulses (shall I give the heart’s action as a duty?)" - Walt Whitman, fully Walter "Walt" Whitman

"Thought and theory must precede all salutary action; yet action is nobler in itself that either thought or theory." - William Wordsworth

"Count that day lost, whose slow descending views from thine hand no worthy action done." -

"We call the intention good which is right in itself, but the action is good, not because it contains within it some good, but because it issues from a good intention. The same act may be done by the same man at different times. According to the diversity of his intention, however, this act may be at one time good, at another bad." -

"Man is a creature of impulse, emotion, action rather than reason. Reason is a very late development in the world of living creatures, most of whom, as far as we know, get along admirably in daily life without it." - James R. Adams

"Pride is a great urge to action; but remember, the pride must be on the part of the buyer. On the part of the seller, it is vanity." - James R. Adams

"The greatest potential for control the ends to exist at the point where action takes place." -

"Man is born for action; he ought to do something. Work, at each step, awakens a sleeping force and roots our error. Who does nothing, knows nothing. Rise! to work! If thy knowledge is real, employ it; wrestle with nature; test the strength of thy theories; see if they will support the trial; act!" - Alfred "Trader Horn" Aloysius, born Alfred Aloysius Smith

"Action is but coarsened thought." -

"While an open mind is priceless, it is priceless only when its owner has the courage to make a final decision which closes the mind for action after the process of viewing all sides of the question has been completed. Failure to make a decision after due consideration of all the facts will quickly brand a man unfit for a position of responsibility. Not all of your decisions will be correct. None of us is perfect. But if you get into the habit of making decisions, experience will develop your judgment to a point where more and more of your decisions will be right. After all, it is better to be right 51 percent of the time and get something done, than it is to get nothing done because you fear to reach a decision." - H. W. Andrews

"You cannot take any performance (even an interior performance) as itself an act of intention; for if you describe a performance, the fact that it has taken place is not a proof of intention; words for example may occur in somebody’s mind without his meaning them. so intention is never a performance in the mind, though in some matters a performance in the mind which is seriously meant may make a difference to the correct account of the man’s action - e.g., in embracing someone. But the matters in question are necessarily ones in which outward acts are ‘significant’ in some way." - Elizabeth Anscombe, fully Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret "G. E. M." Anscombe

"Perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, but in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. Neglect nothing; the most trivial action may be performed to God." - Jacqueline-Marie-Angélique Arnauld, or Arnault, called La Mère Angélique

"Poetry is not concerned with telling people what to do, but with extending our knowledge of good and evil, perhaps making the necessity for action more urgent and its nature more clear, but only leading us to the point where it is possible for us to make a rational and moral choice." - W. H. Auden and J. Garrett

"Through faith man experiences the meaning of the world; through action he is to give to it a meaning." - Leo Baeck

"There is only one proof of ability - results. Men with ability in action get results." - Harry F. Banks, real name possibly Harry Band

"Action without study is fatal. Study without action is futile." - Mary Ritter Beard

"Example has more followers than reason. We unconsciously imitate what pleases us, and insensibly approximate to the characters we most admire. In this way, a generous habit of thought and of action carries with it an incalculable influence." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"We should round every day of stirring action with an evening of thought. We learn nothing of our experience except we must upon it." - Christian Nestell Bovee

"The greatest events of an age are its best thoughts. It is the nature of thought to find its way into action." - John Christian Bovee

"The best advisers, helpers and friends, always are not those who tell us how to act in special cases, but who give us, out of themselves, the ardent spirit and desire to act right, and leave us then, even through many blunders, to find out what our own form of right action is" - Phillips Brooks

"Much has been said of the wisdom of old age. Old age is wise, I grant, for itself, but not wise for the community. It is wise in declining new enterprises, for it has not the power nor the time to execute them; wise in shrinking from difficulty, for it has not the strength to overcome it; wise in avoiding danger, for it lacks the faculty of ready and swift action, by which dangers are parried and converted into advantages. But this is not wisdom for mankind at large, by whom new enterprises must be undertaken, dangers met, and difficulties surmounted." - William Cullen Bryant

""Men of action," whose minds are too busy with the day's work to see beyond it. They are essential men, we cannot do without them, and yet we must not allow all our vision to be bound by the limitations of "men of action."" - Pearl S. Buck, fully Pearl Sydenstricker Buck, also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhu

"Books are but waste paper unless we spend in action the wisdom we get from thought." - Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton, fully Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton, Lord Lytton

"Decision of character is one of the most important of human qualities, philosophically considered. Speculation, knowledge, is not the chief end of man; it is action." - Jacob Burnap