A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 23, 2014
“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss in enthusiasm”

Success is often made after many failures have occurred first. “A boy never knows how to succeed till he learns how to fail without being discouraged” was cited in print in 1904.

“Success has been defined as the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm” was cited in print in a 1953 book and “Success is advancing from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm” was cited in a 1953 newspaper article; no authorship was cited for either. “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm” was published in The Complete Professional Salesman (1974) and credited to “anonymous.”

In the 1980s, the saying was credited to Winston Churchill (1874-1965). Churchill’s speech has been well documented and no Churchill citation has been found, so it’s doubtful that he said this.

[This entry was prepared with research assistance from the Quote Investigator.]


16 September 1904, The Semi-Weekly Robesonian (Lumberton, NC), “Snap Shots,” pg. 4, col. 5:
One success is usually the result of a good many failures.
(...)
A boy never knows how to succeed till he learns how to fail without being discouraged.

Google Books
Annals of Real Estate Practice, Volume 2
By the National Association of Real Estate Boards
Chicago, IL: National Association of Real Estate Boards
1925
Pg. 74:
Those who contend that the element that makes for success is the ability to keep pounding away without being discouraged by failures.

Google Books
How to Say a Few Words
By David Guy Powers
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1953
Pg. 109:
Success has been defined as the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
13 March 1953, The Morning Herald (Gloversville and Johnstown, NY), “Lenten Readings: On Going On,” pg. 25, col. 4:
It is when we give up that our souls are in danger. Someone has said, “Success is advancing from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Google Books
The Training Director’s Job in the Development of Men.
Spring conference, June 14 and 15, 1955 [held at] Schenectady, N. Y.

By the Industrial Training Council of New York State
Schenectady, NY: General Electric Co.
1955
Pg. ?:
Someone once said that man is like the turtle in that he moves forward only when his neck is out. And that means risking failure, which plays a large part in success.

Disraeli tells us that “success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Google Books
The Complete Professional Salesman
By Robert L. Shook, Herbert M. Shook and Ron Bingaman
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble
1975, ©1974
Pg. 38:
“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” (Anonymous)

20 January 1988, Daily Herald (Chicago, IL), “Rochester schools experient with revolutionary teacher pact,” sec. 4, pg. 3, col. 5:
“Winston Churchill’s definition of success, you know what that is? Going from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm.”
(Adam Urbanski, teacher union president, Rochester, NY.—ed.)

Google Books
You’re Smarter Than You Think:
How to Develop Your Practical Intelligence for Success in Living

By Seymour Epstein and Archie Brodsky
New York, NY: Simon & Schuster
1993
Pg. 98:
In addition, an upbeat personality generates enthusiasm in others and thus creates the conditions for success. “To attain success,” Churchill said, “one should be prepared to proceed from failure to failure with undiminished enthusiasm.”

10 March 1993, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, CA), pg. B6, col. 3:
“Success is often nothing more than moving from failure to another with undiminished enthusiasm.”
Winston Churchill

10 December 1993, Anderson (IN) Herald Bulletin, “Whoopi hasn’t kicked the ‘Habit,’” pg. C1, col. 5:
“Winston Churchill said something very interesting about personal power. He said true power is an individual’s ability to move from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm, and there’s something in that that rings true for me.”
(Whoopi Goldberg.—ed.)

Google Books
Stressed Out: Hot, Dry, and about to Crumble:
Seven Prescriptions for the Emotionally Drained

By Lyman Coleman
Littleton, CO: Serendipity
1994
Pg. 30:
Winston Churchill gives us a perspective on failure when he said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

Google Books
21-Day Countdown to Success:
Charge of Your Life in Less Than a Month

By Chris J. Witting
Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press
1998
Pg. 151:
Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, led his nation to victory in World War II. Appropriately enough, Churchill once defined success as “the ability to go from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

20 February 2003, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY) “Senior dreams of designing computer games,” Oswego sec., pg. 6, col. 5:
Some favorite quotations: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss in enthusiasm.”—Sir Winston Churchill

RichardMLangworth.com
“Success”: What Churchill REALLY Said
by RICHARD M. LANGWORTH on 26 MARCH 2011
(...)
AMONG THE THINGS CHURCHILL NEVER SAID:

• “Suc­cess is going from fail­ure to fail­ure with no loss of enthu­si­asm.” (Broadly attrib­uted to Churchill, but found nowhere in his canon. An almost equal num­ber of sources credit this say­ing to Abra­ham Lin­coln; but none of them pro­vides any attribution.)

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Wednesday, April 23, 2014 • Permalink