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 September 20, 2014
“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”

"What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” has been credited to American pastor and motivational speaker Robert H. Schuller (1926-2015). Schuller used the line many times, often slightly altering the words. “What goals would you be setting for yourself if you knew you could not fail?” was written in 1973. “What goals would I set for myself today if I knew I could not fail?” was written in 1983. Schuller called his philosophy “Possibility Thinking.”

“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?” has been credited (since at least 2009) to Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), but there is no evidence that she ever said it.

[This expression was previously researched by the Quote Investigator, who found the 1973 citation.]


Wikipedia: Robert H. Schuller
Robert Harold Schuller (September 16, 1926 – April 2, 2015) was an American televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker, and author. He was principally known for the weekly Hour of Power television program, which he founded in 1970 and hosted until 2010. He was also the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where the Hour of Power program was previously broadcast.

Google Books
You Can Become the Person You Want To Be
By Robert H. Schuller,
New York, NY: Hawthorn Books
1973
Pg. 11 (Chapter 2: Set Your Goals and Let Them Lift You):
What goals would you be setting for yourself if you knew you could not fail?

What dreams would you have on the drawing board if you had unlimited financial resources?

What plans would you be making if you had thirty years to carry them out?

8 May 1978, St. Albans (VT) Messenger, “Don’t be held back” by Robert Schuller, pg. 4, col. 6:
What goals would you be setting for yourself if you knew you could not fail?

What dreams would you have on the drawing board if you had unlimited financial resources?

What plans would you be making if you had 30 years to carry them out?

Google Books
The Art of Talking So That People Will Listen:
Getting Through to Family, Friends and Business Associates

By Paul W. Swets
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1983
Pg. 136:
If you were sure you could not fail, what would you attempt to do?

Google Books
The Inspirational writings of Robert H. Schuller:
Tough times never last, but tough people do & Tough minded faith for tender hearted people

By Robert Harold Schuller
New York, NY: Inspirational Press
1986, ©1983
Pg. 280:
Ask yourself these questions: What goals would I set for myself today if I knew I could not fail? What announcements would I make to the world if I knew I could succeed?

Google Books
Unlimited Power
By Anthony Robbins
New York, NY: Fawcett Columbine
1986
Pg. 75:
Dr. Robert Schuller, who teaches the concept of possibility thinking, asks a great question: “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Think about it. How would you answer that?

2 April 1989, Greensboro (NC) News and Record, “Robert Schuller: 1000th Broadcast” by Lynn Minton, Parade magazine, pg. 20, col. 3:
What attracts such people to Schuller? He calls his religious philosophy “Possibility Thinking” and suggests that people ask, “What would I attempt to do if I knew I could not fail? What dream would I like to see come true if anything was possible?”

9 July 1991, The Progress (Clearfield, PA), “Star Tracking: Your Daily Horoscope” by Patric Walker, pg. 15, col. 8:
SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23-Dec. 21): The question to ask yourself now when dealing with problems of a financial or business nature is—what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? Think about it and then take your cue from what occurs around the time of the second solar eclipse of 1991 on Thursday.

Google Groups: bit.listserv.rra-l
AS YOU DESIRE
Kimberly Borrowdale
3/24/97
(...)
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you would not fail?”
-- Robert Schuller

Google Groups: alt.support.diet.low-fat
It’s the little things.
Adreeanna
12/6/99
What would you attempt to do.....
I swiped this thread add-on from Staca, because I think that it deserves it’s own thread.  What a great thought!!
Ok ya’ all....let’s here it....what would we attempt to do if we knew we could not fail?

Google Groups: HCC Thought for the Day
Thought for Today - December 16th
,i>revd...@comcast.net
12/16/08
Thought for Today: December 16th, 2008
“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?"--Dr. Robert Schuller

Go ahead, let’s all think of one thing.
Now, let’s all go out and give it a shot--or several. After all, Schuller does not ask what we would attempt to do if we knew we could not fail on the first attempt.
Besides, the only time we fail is when we don’t try at all.

Twitter
Vessel Project
‏@vesselproject
“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?"— Eleanor Roosevelt
4:05 AM - 13 Jun 2009

Twitter
Cory Booker
‏@CoryBooker
“What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?” Eleanor Roosevelt
7:07 AM - 17 Oct 2010

OCLC WorldCat record
Around the World in 69 Days What Would You Attempt to Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail?
Author: Chen, Wei
Publisher: Advantage Media Group 2013.
Edition/Format: Book : English

Matchbook magazine
The 20 Best Eleanor Roosevelt Quotations
BY: KATIE ARMOUR
May 8, 2013 8:50am
(...)
20. “What could we accomplish if we knew we could not fail?”

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWork/Businesses • Saturday, September 20, 2014 • Permalink