"There is no substitute for hard work” is an old business axiom. American inventor Thomas Edison (1847-1931) is often credited for the saying, but there’s no evidence that he said it first or that he popularized it.
“There is no easy substitute for hard work” was cited in print in 1875 and “there is no substitute for honest, hard work” was cited in print in 1876. “There is no substitute for hard work” was cited in a 1917 article titled “James J. Hill’s Rules of Business Success.” James J. Hill (1838-1916) was a Canadian-American railroad executive who might have had a role in popularizing the saying.
Wikipedia: James J. Hill
James Jerome Hill (September 16, 1838 – May 29, 1916), was a Canadian-American railroad executive. He was the chief executive officer of a family of lines headed by the Great Northern Railway, which served a substantial area of the Upper Midwest, the northern Great Plains, and Pacific Northwest. Because of the size of this region and the economic dominance exerted by the Hill lines, Hill became known during his lifetime as The Empire Builder.
3 October 1875, Sunday Times (Chicago, IL), “Moody and Sankeyism,” pg. 6, col. 3:
It is not necessary to attack these two men, or their work even, but to realize that there is no easy substitute for hard work, and that early begun, to make virtuous and honest citizens.
23 April 1876, Burlington (IA) Daily Hawk-Eye, “Something Like Work,” pg. 4, col. 4:
The young men to to-day do not need to go back beyond the reach of their own memory and reading to find scores of lessons which teach them there is no substitute for honest, hard work.
5 October 1880, Memphis (TN) Daily Appeal, “Address by Dr. Julius Wise,” pg. 4, col. 1:
Bear in mind, gentlemen, that there is no substitute for hard work—there never yet was mortal that achieves eminence without it.
6 October 1888, Peninsula Enterprise (Accomac, VA)< pg. 1, col. 6:
No Substitute for Hard Work.
25 February 1904, Phillipsburg (KS)
There is no substitute for hard work in winning success.
5 September 1914, Kansas City (MO) Sun, “Candid Opinion,” pg. 6, col. 7:
Optimism is a good thing, if one doesn’t try to use it as a substitute for hard work.
January 1917, The World’s Work, pg. 276:
James J. Hill’s Rules of Business Success
Fourth article from the yet unpublished “Life of James J. Hill,” written with his approval and from exclusive access to his personal papers by his friend,
JOSEPH GILPIN PYLE
“There is no substitute for hard work.”
And how closely he believed a man should watch his business in its formative stage is indicated by a letter he wrote in 1882 to Mr. Stephen in which he says:
“There is no substitute for hard work, and the value of a railway is its capacity to earn money.”
Google News Archive
20 November 1942, Windsor (Ontario) Daily Star, “Stark Takes New Duties,” pg. 19, cols. 4-5:
The office also reveals the admiral’s pleasure in discovering a well-turned phrase which expressed in a few words his philosophy or beliefs. “An egg today, a feather-duster tomorrow,” “life begins each morning,” “when in a hurry, wait awhile,” “there is no substitute for hard work” are a few of the favorites on his list.
The World of Work:
Careers and the Future
By Howard F. Didsbury
Bethesda, MD: World Future Society
“There is no substitute for hard work.” (Thomas A. Edison)
“There is no substitute for hard work.” -Thomas Edison http://huff.to/1dArkNw
2:32 PM - 2 Sep 13