Best Collection of John W. Gardner Quotes

John W. Gardner, American Educator ( October 8, 1912 - February 16, 2002 )

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Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.~John W. Gardner

Excellence Doing Well

True happiness involves the full use of one's power and talents.~John W. Gardner

Motivational Happiness

The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.~John W. Gardner

Good Water Excellence

We are all faced with a series of great opportunities - brilliantly disguised as insoluble problems.~John W. Gardner

Great Opportunities Series

History never looks like history when you are living through it.~John W. Gardner

History Living You

Some people have greatness thrust upon them. Very few have excellence thrust upon them.~John W. Gardner

Greatness Excellence

Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own plants.~John W. Gardner

Education Flowers Today

If you have some respect for people as they are, you can be more effective in helping them to become better than they are.~John W. Gardner

Respect People Better

It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government.~John W. Gardner

Respect Government Feel

The creative individual has the capacity to free himself from the web of social pressures in which the rest of us are caught. He is capable of questioning the assumptions that the rest of us accept.~John W. Gardner

Creative Rest Free

The cynic says, 'One man can't do anything.' I say, 'Only one man can do anything.'~John W. Gardner

Man Say Anything

Some people strengthen the society just by being the kind of people they are.~John W. Gardner

Society People Kind

Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.~John W. Gardner

Life Art Experience

It's a staggering transition for high school students that found they could study five hours a week and make As and Bs.~John W. Gardner

School Week Transition

All laws are an attempt to domesticate the natural ferocity of the species.~John W. Gardner

Natural Laws Attempt

For every talent that poverty has stimulated it has blighted a hundred.~John W. Gardner

Politics Poverty Talent

The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursing his own education. This will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else.~John W. Gardner

Education School Goal

One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.~John W. Gardner

Learning Failure Risk

Men of integrity, by their very existence, rekindle the belief that as a people we can live above the level of moral squalor. We need that belief; a cynical community is a corrupt community.~John W. Gardner

Integrity Community Men

Political extremism involves two prime ingredients: an excessively simple diagnosis of the world's ills, and a conviction that there are identifiable villains back of it all.~John W. Gardner

World Political Simple

America's greatness has been the greatness of a free people who shared certain moral commitments. Freedom without moral commitment is aimless and promptly self-destructive.~John W. Gardner

Freedom Greatness People

I am entirely certain that twenty years from now we will look back at education as it is practiced in most schools today and wonder that we could have tolerated anything so primitive.~John W. Gardner

Education Today I Am

The idea for which this nation stands will not survive if the highest goal free man can set themselves is an amiable mediocrity. Excellence implies striving for the highest standards in every phase of life.~John W. Gardner

Life Man Goal

Whoever I am, or whatever I am doing, some kind of excellence is within my reach.~John W. Gardner

I Am Excellence Doing

Leaders come in many forms, with many styles and diverse qualities. There are quiet leaders and leaders one can hear in the next county. Some find strength in eloquence, some in judgment, some in courage.~John W. Gardner

Strength Courage Quiet

Our problem is not to find better values but to be faithful to those we profess.~John W. Gardner

Values Problem Better