“The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary” is a saying that dates to at least 1953. The saying means that work leads to success; success doesn’t come without working for it. The saying has been very popular in business.
Green Bay Packers football coach Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) is often given credit for the “success comes before work only in the dictionary” saying, but the saying had been well-known before Lombardi ever coached the Packers.
31 July 1953, Richardson (TX) Echo,“Moments,” pg. 2, col.2:
Only in the dictionary will you find success coming before work.
Google News Archive
6 August 1954, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle,“You Betcha!,” pg.1, col.1:
The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work.
6 October 1955, Moulton (IA) Weekly Tribune, “Squirts and Squeaks from the Back Shop,” pg. 2, col. 5:
Success comes before work only in the dictionary.
Fitting Yourself for Business
By Elizabeth Gregg MacGibbon
New York, NY: Gregg Pub. Division, McGraw-Hill
Bear in mind that the dictionary is the only place where Success comes before Work.
The Greatest Quotations of All-Time
By Anthony St. Peter
The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. Vince Lombardi