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quotations about purpose

Great minds have purposes, others have wishes.

WASHINGTON IRVING, attributed, Business Philosopher, 1913

Give a man health and a course to steer; and he’ll never stop to trouble about whether he’s happy or not.

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW, Captain Brassbound's Conversion

Purpose is a desire for something in our own power, coupled with an investigation into its means.

ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics

Does not the latent feeling that much of their striving is to no purpose tend to infuse large quantities of sham into men's work?


Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment.

JAMES ALLEN, As a Man Thinketh

If you are a philosopher you can do this thing: you can go to the top of a high building, look down upon your fellow-men 300 feet below, and despise them as insects. Like the irresponsible black waterbugs on summer ponds, they crawl and circle and hustle about idiotically without aim or purpose. They do not even move with the admirable intelligence of ants, for ants always know when they are going home. The ant is of a lowly station, but he will often reach home and get his slippers on while you are left at your elevated station.

O. HENRY, "Psyche and the Pskyscraper"

Having purpose and vision during retirement is one of the most important determinants of mental, social, spiritual, and physical well-being in later life.

HAROLD G. KOENIG, Purpose and Power in Retirement

It's only ... when we're stripped of purpose that we know who we are.


It may be that there was no reason or purpose, for mankind must always be finding reasons where there are none, and comfort in a purpose that hardly exists.


Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.

BETTE DAVIS, quoted in Witty Words From Wise Women

If there is some end of the things we do, which we desire for its own sake, clearly this must be the good. Will not knowledge of it, then, have a great influence on life? Shall we not, like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what we should? If so, we must try, in outline at least, to determine what it is.

ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics

Whenever I mentor people and help them discover their purpose, I always encourage them to start the process by discovering their strengths, not exploring their shortcomings. Why? Because people's purpose in life is always connected to their giftedness. It always works that way. You are not called to do something that you have no talent for. You will discover your purpose by finding and remaining in your strength zone.

JOHN C. MAXWELL, Leadership Gold

They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pitying, all of which are indications of weakness, which lead, just as surely as deliberately planned sins (though by a different route), to failure, unhappiness, and loss, for weakness cannot persist in a power evolving universe.

JAMES ALLEN, As a Man Thinketh

Nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose — a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.

MARY SHELLEY, Frankenstein

Ah, only he who knows where he sails, knows what wind is good, and a fair wind for him.

FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

God created man on purpose, and for a purpose.

ZIG ZIGLAR, The One Year Daily Insights with Zig Ziglar

Purpose ... is held to be most closely connected with virtue, and to be a better token of our character than are even our acts.

ARISTOTLE, Nicomachean Ethics

We often miss the end of life by having no object before us.

HENRY F. KLETZING, Traits of Character Illustrated in Bible Light

Now I shall be of some use in the world, as every one ought to be; it is the only way to be happy.


What men want is not talent, it is purpose; in other words, not the power to achieve but the will to labour.

EDWARD BULWER-LYTTON, Lucretia; or, The children of Night

Where can you find purpose? Like success and happiness, our purpose exists in the present, and we constantly strive toward the future to maintain it. What it is for which we strive is up to each of us. The important thing is that we strive toward something.

PHILIP ZIMBARDO, The Time Paradox: The New Psychology of Time That Will Change Your Life

If a man knows not to which port he sails, no wind is favorable.

SENECA, Seneca's Morals

Read Walter Matthews' essay on Purpose

Read Henry F. Kletzing's essay: Having an Aim


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