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 June 23, 2015
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement”

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958), president of the General Motors Research Corporation, wrote in “Education Begins at Home” for The Reader’s Digest of February 1944:

“We are prone to toss at our children the finished products of man’s achievements — the radio, telephone, a lifesaving medicine — without telling them about the painful processes by which these miracles came into being. We seldom take the trouble to explain that every great improvement in aviation, communication, engineering or public health has come after repeated failures. We should emphasize that virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try something, and it works. One fails forward toward success.”

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement” has been printed on many posters. The author C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) has been incorrectly credited with Kettering’s saying since 2005.


Wikipedia: Charles F. Kettering
Charles Franklin Kettering (August 29, 1876 – November 24 or 25, 1958) was an American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents. He was a founder of Delco, and was head of research at General Motors from 1920 to 1947. Among his most widely used automotive developments were the electrical starting motor and leaded gasoline. In association with the DuPont Chemical Company, he was also responsible for the invention of Freon refrigerant for refrigeration and air conditioning systems. At DuPont he also was responsible for the development of Duco lacquers and enamels, the first practical colored paints for mass-produced automobiles. While working with the Dayton-Wright Company he developed the “Bug” aerial torpedo, considered the world’s first aerial missile. He led the advancement of practical, lightweight two-stroke diesel engines, revolutionizing the locomotive and heavy equipment industries. In 1927, he founded the Kettering Foundation, a non-partisan research foundation.

Google Books
February 1944, The Reader’s Digest, “Education Begins at Home” by Charles F. Kettering, pg. 82:
We are prone to toss at our children the finished products of man’s achievements — the radio, telephone, a lifesaving medicine — without telling them about the painful processes by which these miracles came into being. We seldom take the trouble to explain that every great improvement in aviation, communication, engineering or public health has come after repeated failures. We should emphasize that virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try something, and it works. One fails forward toward success.

Even after you’ve succeeded, the worst stretch often begins.

Google Books
The Texas Outlook
Texas State Teachers Association
Volume 28
1944
Pg. 57:
Great comfort can be found in C. F. Kettering’s words: “We should emphasize that virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. The only time you don’t fail is the last time you try something. One fails forward toward success.”

Google Books
Charles F. Kettering:
A Biography

By Thomas Alvin Boyd
New York, NY: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
1957
Pp. 39-40:
He has also said: “Every great improvement...has come after repeated failures...Virtually nothing comes out right the first time. Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement.”

Google Groups: alt.support.depression.teens
Thought for the day
Tweetiebird
10/8/01
Thought of the Day from Lightworker
Virtually nothing comes out right the first time.
Failures, repeated failures,
are finger posts on the road to achievement.
The only time you don’t want to fail is the
last time you try something…
One fails forward toward success.
- Charles F. Kettering

Friar Tuck’s Fleeting Thoughts
THURSDAY, APRIL 28, 2005
CS Lewis quotes
(...)
Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.
C. S. Lewis

Google Books
Survival Guide for the Administrative Assistant:
The Complete Guide for Successful Office Management

By Justa Victorin
Pembroke Pines, FL: Amerista
2007
Pg. 54:
Inspirational Quote
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. “ —C. S. Lewis

Twitter
quote dojo
‏@quotedojo
Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. ~C. S. Lewis #failure
2:42 AM - 18 Feb 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Tuesday, June 23, 2015 • Permalink