"It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill, just so long as you don’t lose the cow” was popularized by business author Harvey Mackay, who used this line in his book, Swim With the Sharks: Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition (1988). Evangelical Christian author John C. Maxwell has also used the saying in his books.
It’s not certain where the saying originated; it has sometimes been claimed as an “old Texas saying.” “Don’t grieve about the milk you spill/ While there are cows and clover!” was cited in the Atlanta (GA) Constitution in 1895.
7 July 1895, Atlanta (GA) Constitution, pg. 14, col. 6:
Keep your old heart happy still --
Time’s a reckless rover;
Don’t grieve about the milk you spill
While there are cows and clover!
30 April 1989, The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH), pg. 5-H. col. 2:
The ultimate test in dominance is, of course, war, which surfaces even in Harvey Mackay’s “Swim With the Sharks,” the least militaristic of the advice manuals. The book offers advice that is never devious or dishonest and that frequently serves up such folk wisdom as: “It doesn’t matter how many pails of milk you spill, just so long as you don’t lose the cow.”
20 November 1994, Denver (CO) Post, “Aphorisms II: More words to live by” by Harvey Mackay, Business, pg. I-10:
*I don’t care how many pails of milk I lose, as long as I don’t lose the cow.”
21 May 1995, Denver (CO) Post, “Knowing when and how to lose counts in long run” by Harvey Mackay, pg. G-4:
Mackay’s Moral: It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose the cow.
What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do
By Neil Eskelin
Palos Verdes, CA : Western Front
“It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose your cow. “ — East Texas saying
Why Climb the Corporate Ladder When You Can Take the Elevator?:
500 Secrets for Success in Business
By John M. Capozzi
Fairfield, CT: JMC Industries
It doesn’t matter how many pails of milk you spill, just don’t lose the cow.
Turning Mistakes Into Stepping Stones for Success
By John C. Maxwell
Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
5. People Think Failure Is Irreversible—It’s Not
There’s an old saying in Texas: “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose your cow.” In other words, mistakes are not irreversible.
New York (NY) Times
Some Inspiration to Make 2010 a Success
By PAUL B. BROWN
Published: January 5, 2010
Consider the seemingly endless number of speakers, everyone from the Rev. Billy Graham to John C. Maxwell, the author of books on leadership, who have cited what they say is an old Texas expression, “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill, as long as you don’t lose the cow.”
William E Wood and Associates, Realtors
“What Failure is NOT”
June 25, 2013
To those of you who are faced with challenges let me offer these words of encouragement from one of my most admired authors, John Maxwell. He says, “Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.” According to Maxwell there are several things that failure is NOT:
People think failure is irreversible…it’s not. There is an old Texas saying, “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill as long as you don’t lose the cow.” In other words, keep the big picture perspective.