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 25, 2015
“Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal”

"Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal” is a motivational saying that has been printed on many posters. “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal” was cited—uncredited—in 1941. The quotation has been frequently credited since 1948 to English religious writer Hannah More (1745-1833), but there is no evidence that she ever wrote it and the the first citation is over 100 years after her death. American industrialist Henry Ford (1863-1947) has been credited with the saying since the 1990s, but this is also after his death and there is no evidence that Ford ever said it.

“An obstacle is always that thing one sees when we take our eyes off the goal” was cited in print in 1952, when it was a “Mirrorgram” in the Altoona (PA) Mirror. This form of the saying is frequently credited to American entrepreneur and author E. Joseph Cossman (1918-2002). However, Cossman wrote his first book in 1964 and it’s unlikely that he had anything to do with the saying’s origins.


14 March 1941, Jewish Advocate (Boston, MA), pg. 7, col. 4:
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.

30 October 1941, Western Military Academy Shrapnel (Alton, IL), “Bits of Shrapnel,” pg. 2, col. 4:
Obstacles are those frightful things you see whenever your attention wanders from the goal you are trying to reach.

17 December 1943, The Bee (Danville, VA), “The Beehive,” pg. 4, col. 3:
OBSTACLES
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.”

Google Books
Think
International Business Machines Corporation
Volumes 14-15
1948
Pg. 25:
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal. — Hannah More

5 May 1949, The Globe and Mail (Toronto, ON), “Thought for Today,” pg. 7, col. 2:
Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.
-- Hannah More.

4 October 1952, Altoona (PA) Mirror, “Mirrorgrams,” pg. 8, col. 2:
An obstacle is always that thing one sees when we take our eyes off the goal.

9 November 1952, Albert Lea (MN) Tribune, “This ‘n’ That” by Lavonne Egge, Farm and Home Section, pg. 3, col. 3:
An obstacle is always that thing one sees when he takes his eyes off the goal.

Old Fulton NY Post Cards
26 October 1953, Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, “Office Cat” by Junius, pg. 8, col. 2:
An obstacle is always that thing one sees when he takes his eyes off the goal.

18 June 1968, Lubbock (TX) Avalanche-Journal, “The Plainsman,” pg. B-8, col. 1:
Sudden Thought: Obstacles are what a fellow sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.

Google Books
How to Solve the Mismanagement Crisis:
Diagnosis and Treatment of Management Problems

By Ichak Adizes
San Diego, CA: Adizes Institute
1983, ©1979
Pg. 87:
“Obstacles are the things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal. “ E. Joseph Cossman

Google Books
Full Speed Ahead:
Become Driven by Change to Achieve Your Personal and Professional Best

By Joyce Weiss
West Bloomfield, MI: Bloomfield Press
1996
Pg. 26:
Henry Ford also observed, “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”

Google Books
Develop and Market Your Creative Ideas
By Dale A. Davis
Grants Pass, OR: Oasis Press/PSI Research
1996
Pg. 113:
Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal. — E. Joseph Cossman.

Los Angeles (CA) Times
E.J. Cossman, 84; Ant Farm, Spud Gun Made Him Fortune
December 19, 2002|Myrna Oliver | Times Staff Writer
E. Joseph Cossman, who made millions marketing such must-have items as shrunken heads, spud guns and the now-ubiquitous ant farm, and then made millions telling entrepreneurs how to do the same thing, has died. He was 84.

Cossman, a door-to-door salesman who perfected mail-order salesmanship and pioneered the television infomercial, then wrote books and conducted pricey seminars to demonstrate the route from rags to riches, died Dec. 7 in Palm Springs. His daughter, Ronna Binn of Tarzana, said he died of complications from a stroke.

Twitter
Dr. Judy Staveley
‏@judystaveley
“Obstacle are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off YOUR GOAL” Henry Ford
8:17 AM - 8 May 2010

Google Books
Over Again: Obstacles Are Those Frightful Things You See When You Take Your Eyes Off Your Goal ~Henry Ford
Katlyn Lipomi
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Apr 29, 2015 - 30 pages

Twitter
40Billion
‏@40billion
SAY OF THE DAY: “Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal.” -E. Joseph Cossman http://www.40billion.com/post/7130
8:12 PM - 25 Apr 2015

Twitter
ky.
‏@yhxnxssx
Obstacle are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off you goal
-Hannah Moore
8:46 PM - 28 Dec 2015

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, April 25, 2015 • Permalink