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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“Don’t waste a moment of your life trying to be normal” (6/23)
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Entry from August 13, 2012
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence”

Brooklyn-born Vince Lombardi (1913-1970) took over as head football coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959. According to Packers quarterback Bart Starr, Lombardi said in his first speech before the team:

“Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good.”

Packer offensive lineman Jerry Kramer wrote in his book, Distant Replay (1985):

“Coach Lombardi said that perfection is not attainable,” Bart said, “but he said that if we chased perfection, we could catch excellence.”

Similar quotes include “strive for perfection, settle for excellence” and “demand perfection and settle for excellence.” “If you chase perfection, you often catch excellence” is sometimes credited to William Fowble (an executive at Kodak), but it’s likely that he said the line long after Vince Lombardi did.


Wikiquote: Vince Lombardi
Vincent Thomas Lombardi (June 11, 1913 – September 3, 1970) was one of the most successful coaches in the history of American football as head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 1959 to 1967, and the Washington Redskins in 1969.

Sourced
Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence. I am not remotely interested in just being good.
. First team meeting as Packers coach (1959), reported in Chuck Carlson, Game of My Life: 25 Stories of Packers Football (2004), p. 149; Richard Scott, Jay Barker, Legends of Alabama Football (2004), p. 78.

Google News Archive
17 May 1984, Modesto (CA) Bee, pg C2, col. 4:
Ghio quotes an Adair motto: “Demand perfection and settle for excellence.”

Google Books
Distant Replay
By Jerry Kramer with Dick Schaap
New York, NY: G.P. Putnam
1985
Pg. 40:
“Coach Lombardi said that perfection is not attainable,” Bart said, “but he said that if we chased perfection, we could catch excellence.”
(Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr—ed.)

Google News Archive
11 October 1985, The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), “Now a ‘Distant Replay’”: Kramer looks again at his famous block” by Tony Kornheiser (Washington Post), pg. 9D, col. 1:
“Perfection isn’t attainable,” Lombardi told them, “but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

Google News Archive
2 November 1985, The Evening Independent (St. Petersburg, FL), “Perfect is the enemy of good” by Donald Kaul, pg. 11A, col. 2:
Lombardi said one other thing that people seem to be ready to engrave on buildings. “Perfection isn’t attainable; but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”

5 December 1986, Lexington (KY) Herald-Leader, “Fayette ‘quiz kids’ among best in U.S.,” pg. A1:
The quotation said: “Strive for perfection, settle for excellence.”

Google Books
The Secrets of Power Politicking
By Howard Jackson
[United States]: Universal Publishers/uPublish.com
2000
Pg. 39:
YOU CAN NEVER ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE UNLESS YOU STRIVE FOR PERFECTION

7 August 2005, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, “The heat is on”:
“If you chase perfection, you often catch excellence,” wrote William Fowble.

OCLC WorldCat record
Stop chasing perfection and settle for excellence
Author: Topher Morrison
Publisher: Tampa, FL : Topher Morrison Inc., ©2006.
Edition/Format:  Book : English

Google Books
The ActionScript 3.0 Quick Reference Guide:
For Developers and Designers Using Flash CS4 Professional

By David Stiller, Rich Shupe, Jen deHaan and Darren Richardson
Sebastopol, CA: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
2008
Pg. 3:
If you chase perfection, you often catch excellence. —William Fowble

3 February 2008, Odessa (TX) American, Parade magazine, pg. 8, col. 1:
Super Bowl legend Bart Starr and the coach who inspired him:
“We Will Catch Excellence”

By Jeremy Schaap
IT WAS ALMOST 50 YEARS AGO, BUT former quarterback Bart Starr still vividly remembers his first encounter with the man who would change his life. The new head coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, was addressing the players, who had won only one of their 12 games the previous year.

“He opened the session by thanking the Packers for allowing him to be their coach,” Starr says. “That tells you something about the man. Then he quickly turned to us and said, ‘Gentlemen, we are going to relentlessly chase perfection, knowing full well we will not catch it, because nothing is perfect. But we are going to relentlessly chase it, because in the process we will catch excellence.’ He came right up on us, within a foot of us in the front row, and then he said, ‘I am not remotely interested in just being good.’”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • (0) Comments • Monday, August 13, 2012 • Permalink