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 08, 2015
“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out”

"Things turn/work out best for those who make the best of how things turn/work out” is a saying that has been printed on many posters. “Things turn out for the best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out” was cited in print in 1961. Authorship is unknown.

The saying has been credited to American basketball coach John Wooden (1910-2010), who wrote in They Call Me Coach (1973): “Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.” However, there is no evidence that Wooden used the expression first.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of what works out.—Jeff Magee” was cited in Magee’s book Bounceback (1991). “Things work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out” was cited in 1995. “Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out” was cited in 1996.

[This entry was assisted with research from the Quote Investigator.]


26 March 1961, Park Forest (IL) Star, “The Outlet,” pg. 6, col. 8:
Ad Boy:
Things turn out for the best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out.
PF Pete

4 May 1961, The Times (Brookshire, TX), pg. 8, col. 4 ad:
“Things turn out for the best,” Uncle Joe remarked, “for those who make the best out of the way things turn out.”
(Farmers State Bank.—ed.)

Google Books
Better Homes and Gardens
Volume 39, Issues 1-6
1961
Pg. 1:
Things turn out for the best, Grandpa Hillis remarked, for those who make the best out of the way things turn out.

Google Books
February 1962, Boys’ Life, ‘Think and Grin,” pg. 78, col. 2:
“Things turn out for the best,” my Scoutmaster said, “for those who make the best out of the way things turn out.” — Tim Struna, Euclid 19, Ohio.

11 December 1965, Laurel (MS) Leader-Call, “Musings From The Hilltop” by Jack Hays, pg. 4, col. 6:
From the Salvation Army’s War Cry we selected these:
(...)
Things turn out best for those who make the best out of the way things turn out.

Google Books
They Call Me Coach
By John Wooden with Jack Tobin
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
2004 (originally published 1973)
Pg. 75:
Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.

18 November 1973, Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, “Quotations” by Ken Wynn, pg. 1B, col. 1:
John Wooden, basketball coach at UCLA, has a new book out, entitled, “They Call Me Coach.”

Some quotations by Wooden are very well worth repeating:
(...)
“Things turn out best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Google Books
Bounceback
By Jeffrey L. Magee
Kansas City, M): Lowell Press
1991
Pg. 125:
Things work out best for those who make the best of what works out.—Jeff Magee

Google Groups: comp.databases.ms-access
Seattle ACCESS to Page Layout software job offered
Gib
6/14/95
(...)
“Things work out best
For those who make the best
Out of the way things
Work out.”

Google Groups: alt.support.mult-sclerosis
I could use a big hug
Kris Holder
12/9/96
(...)
“Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out”

18 November 1997, The Gazette-News (Baldur, Manitoba), “Baldur United Church News” submitted by Bubs Reykdal, pg. 10, col. 5:
“Things work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out.”

Google Books
Introduction to Business Strategy:
A Strategic Management Approach: Text and Cases

By Tony Morden
London: McGraw-Hill
1999
Pg. 81:
Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out. Anon

25 December 1999, Aiken (SC) Standard, “Words of Wisdom,” pg. 2A, col. 1:
Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out. John Shead, 62

Google Books
S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Success:
How to Find Your Path to Peace and Prosperity by Using S.M.A.R.T.E.R. Goals

By Al Lippart
Markesan, WI: MVC Productions
2003
Pg. 211:
Art Linkletter taught me, “Things work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out.”

17 March 2003, Roswell (NM) Daily Record, “Is it just luck or is it really success?” by Rick Kraft, pg. A5, col. 4:
Or the saying, “Things work out best for those who give their best to make things work.”

Google Books
How to Be Like Coach Wooden:
Life Lessons from Basketball’s Greatest Leader

By Pat Williams with David Wimbish
Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications
2006
Pg. 106:
“He (John Wooden—ed.) told me, ‘Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.’”

The Huffington Post
Lolly Daskal (Leadership Global Consultant and Coach)
100 Motivational Quotes That Will Inspire You to Be Successful
Posted: 01/01/2014 9:57 pm EST Updated: 09/03/2014 11:59 am EDT
2. Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out. ~John Wooden

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Monday, June 08, 2015 • Permalink