Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t. You cannot shirk this and be a man. To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.
—Mark Twain (1835–1910) American Humorist
When people ask for time, it’s always for time to say no. Yes has one more letter in it, but it doesn’t take half as long to say.
—Edith Wharton (1862–1937) American Novelist, Short-story Writer
I determined never to stop until I had come to the end and achieved my purpose.
—David Livingstone (1813–73) Scottish Missionary, Explorer
Logic pervades the world; the limits of the world are also the limits of logic.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951) Austrian-born British Philosopher
We are given one life, and the decision is our whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act, and in acting, to live.
—Omar Bradley (1893–1981) American Military Leader
Decisiveness is a characteristic of high-performing men and women. Almost any decision is better than no decision at all.
—Brian Tracy (b.1944) American Author, Motivational Speaker
The human heart is like a ship on a stormy sea driven about by winds blowing from all four corners of heaven.
—Martin Luther (1483–1546) German Protestant Theologian
No man who has not sat in the assemblies of men can know the light, odd and uncertain ways in which decisions are often arrived at.
—Arthur Helps (1813–75) English Dramatist, Essayist
It is the mark of a good action that it appears inevitable, in retrospect.
—Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94) Scottish Novelist
When confronted with two courses of action I jot down on a piece of paper all the arguments in favor of each one, then on the opposite side I write the arguments against each one. Then by weighing the arguments pro and con and cancelling them out, one against the other, I take the course indicated by what remains.
—Benjamin Franklin (1706–90) American Political Leader, Inventor, Diplomat
Decide which is the line of conduct that presents the fewest drawbacks and then follow it out as being the best one, because one never finds anything perfectly pure and unmixed, or exempt from danger.
—Niccolo Machiavelli (1469–1527) Florentine Political Philosopher
Choice of attention – to pay attention to this and ignore that – is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be.
—W. H. Auden (1907–73) British-born American Poet, Dramatist
The absence of alternatives clears the mind marvelously.
—Henry Kissinger (b.1923) American Diplomat, Academician
Life is just an endless chain of judgements…. The more imperfect our judgement, the less perfect our success.
—B. C. Forbes (1880–1954) Scottish-born American Journalist, Publisher
I learn by going where I have to go.
—Theodore Roethke (1908–63) American Poet
In any moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
Frozen in fear, you avoid responsibility because you think your experience is beyond your control. This stance keeps you from making decisions, solving problems, or going after what you want in life.
Life is the sum of all your choices.
—Albert Camus (1913–60) Algerian-born French Philosopher, Dramatist, Essayist, Novelist, Author
Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.
—Rita Mae Brown (b.1944) American Writer, Feminist
Our danger is not too few, but too many options … to be puzzled by innumerable alternatives.
—Richard Livingstone (1880–1960) British Scholar, Educator, Academic
Don’t stand shivering upon the bank; plunge in at once, and have it over.
—Thomas Chandler Haliburton (1796–1865) Canadian Author, Humorist, Businessperson, Judge
The world stands aside to let anyone pass who knows where he is going.
—David Starr Jordan (1851–1931) American Zoologist, Educator, Peace Activist
The experiences of camp life show that a man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress. We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken away from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s way. The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity—even in the most difficult circumstances—to add a deeper meaning to life.
—Viktor Frankl (1905–97) Austrian Psychiatrist, Psychotherapist
Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible. Make that decision primarily for yourself because you can never really live anyone else’s lie, not even your child’s. The influence you exert is through your own life and what you become yourself.
—Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962) American First Lady, Diplomat, Humanitarian
Common sense does not ask an impossible chessboard, but takes the one before it and plays the game.
—Wendell Phillips (1811–84) American Abolitionist, Lawyer, Orator
The lives of the best of us are spent in choosing between evils.
—Junius Unidentified English Writer
An ideal wife is any woman who has an ideal husband.
—Booth Tarkington (1869–1946) American Novelist, Dramatist
The doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
Once the “what” is decided, the “how” always follows. We must not make the “how” an excuse for not facing and accepting the “what”.
—Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973) American Novelist, Human Rights Activist
I take great comfort in having people around who can walk in my office and tell me what’s on their mind. Part of my job is — they say, what’s your job? My job is decision-maker. I make a lot of decisions. Obviously, some of which you’ve seen, and a lot of them you don’t. And they’re big ones and little ones. But you make a lot of decisions. And if you don’t — if you’re uncertain about all the facts surrounding a decision, you’ve got to rely upon people. And you’ve then got to create an environment in which people are willing to come in and say, here’s what’s on my mind.
It’s important at the presidential level. It’s important in business. You’ve got to have people comfortable about saying, Here’s what I think you ought to do, Mr. CEO. You’ve got to listen and have a — I’ve always believed in a flat organizational chart. I think the worst thing that can happen for decision-makers is to get a filtered point of view.
—George W. Bush (b.1946) American Head of State, Businessperson
Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) French Monarch
It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.
—Elbert Hubbard (1856–1915) American Writer, Publisher, Artist, Philosopher
The last, if not the greatest, of the human freedoms: to choose their own attitude in any given circumstance.
—Bruno Bettelheim (1903–90) Austrian-born American Psychologist, Writer
The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak becomes a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.
—Thomas Carlyle (1795–1881) Scottish Historian, Essayist
Faith … acts promptly and boldly on the occasion, on slender evidence.
—John Henry Newman (1801–90) British Theologian, Poet
The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.
—Ben Stein (b.1944) American Lawyer, Writer, Economist, Humorist
Where there is no counsel, the people perish; but in the multitude of counselors there is safety.
—The Holy Bible Scripture in the Christian Faith
When, against one’s will, one is high pressured into making a hurried decision, the best answer is always No, because No is more easily changed to Yes, than Yes is changed to No.
—Charles E. Wilson (1886–1972) American Businessperson
Form the habit of making decisions when your spirit is fresh … to let dark moods lead is like choosing cowards to command armies.
—Charles Cooley (1864–1929) American Sociologist
So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else. If we wait until we’ve satisfied all the uncertainties, it may be too late.
—Lee Iacocca (1924–2019) American Businessperson
You cannot serve God and Mammon.
—The Holy Bible Scripture in the Christian Faith
It is the nature, and the advantage, of strong people that they can bring out the crucial questions and form a clear opinion about them. The weak always have to decide between alternatives that are not their own.
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–45) German Lutheran Pastor, Theologian
A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.
It is only in our decisions that we are important.
—Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–80) French Philosopher, Playwright, Novelist, Screenwriter, Political Activist
Statistics are no substitute for judgment.
—Henry Clay (1777–1852) American Politician