All experience is an arch, to build upon.
Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918) U.S. historian. Education of Henry Adams (1907)
- Experience is a good teacher, but she sends in terrific bills.
Minna Antrim (1856-1950) U.S. writer. Naked Truth and Veiled Illusions (1902)
- Whenever you fall, pick up something.
Oswald Theodore Avery (1877-1955) U.S. bacteriologist. Attrib.
- EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?) U.S. journalist and writer. The Devil’s Dictionary (1911)
- Experience isn’t interesting until it begins to repeat itself-in fact, till it does that, it hardly is experience.
Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) Irish writer. The Death of the Heart (1938), pt. 1, ch. 1
- Experience is a dim lamp, which only lights the one who bears it.
Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894-1961) French author. Interview, Writers at Work (1967)
- You cannot acquire experience by making experiments. You cannot create experience. You must undergo it.
Albert Camus (1913-60) French novelist and essayist. Notebooks 1935-42 (1962)
- To most men, experience is like the stern lights of a ship, which illumine only the track it has passed.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) British poet. Table Talk (1836)
- Circumstances? Life is circumstances.
Robert De Castella (b.1957) Australian athlete and executive director of Focus on You. Quoted in Running with the Legends (Michael Sandrock; 1996)
- Experientia does it-as papa used to say.
Charles dickens (1812-70) British novelist. David Copperfield (1849-50), ch. 1
- I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.
- L. Doctorow (b.1931) U.S. novelist. Interview, Writers at Work (1988)
- We have been finely duped…full of courtesy, full of craft.
Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849) British writer. The Parent’s Assistant (1796)
- And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) British poet, dramatist, and critic. “Little Gidding,” Four Quarters (1943)
- You will find that you survive humiliation. And that’s an experience of incalculable value.
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) British poet, dramatist, and critic. The Cocktail Party (1950), Act 1, Scene 1
- I do not see how any man can afford…to spare any action in which he can partake. Drudgery, calamity, exasperation, want are instructors in eloquence and wisdom.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82) U.S. essayist, lecturer, and poet. Speech to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Cambridge Divinity College, Harvard. “American Scholar” (August 31, 1837)
- Experience teaches you that the man who looks you straight in the eye, particularly if he adds a firm handshake, is hiding something.
Clifton Fadiman (1904-99) U.S. editor and author. Enter Conversing (1962)
- Experience teaches slowly, and at the cost of mistakes.
James Anthony Froude (1818-94) British historian. Short Studies on Great Subjects (1877)
- In a human capital-intensive environment, all you bring to the table is your own intellectual property. You will not share this precious resource with others unless you trust them to reciprocate.
Francis Fukuyama (b.1952) U.S. economist and writer. “Trust Still Counts in a Virtual World,” Forbes (February 12, 1996)
- In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins: cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.
Harold S. Geneen (1910-97) U.S. telecommunications entrepreneur and C.E.O. of ITT. Managing (co-written with Alvin Moscow; 1984)
- Only the paranoid survive.
Andrew S. Grove (b.1936) U.S. entrepreneur, author, and chairman of Intel Corporation. The philosophy by which runs his company, Intel Corporation. Attrib.
- An expert is a man who knows some of the worst errors that can be made in the subject in question and who therefore understands how to avoid them.
Werner Heisenberg (1901-76) German physicist and philosopher. The Part and the Whole (1969)
- A moment’s insight is sometimes worth a life’s experience.
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-94) U.S. surgeon, teacher, and writer. The Professor at the Breakfast Table (1860), ch. 10
- Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web…suspended in the chamber of consciousness and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.
Henry James (1843-1916) U.S. novelist. “The Art of Fiction,” Partial Portraits (1888)
- Mistakes are, after all, the foundation of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.
Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychiatrist. 1951. “Aion,” Collected Works (William McGuire, ed.;1959). Vol. 19
- Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced…even a proverb is no proverb till your life has illustrated it.
John Keats (1795-1821) British poet. Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (March 19, 1819)
- Experience teaches that it doesn’t.
Norman MacCaig (1910-96) Scottish poet. “A World of Difference” (1983)
- My life has been a series of discoveries, of revelations and continues to be so.
John Makepeace (b.1939) British furniture designer and manufacturer. Quoted in Makepeace (Jeremy Myerson; 1995)
- The woman who seems to be thirty-five but whom I know to be sixty, is to me, disquieting. A life should leave its traces, and the total lack of them is a negation of experience.
Marya Mannes (1904-90) U.S. essayist and journalist. “Of Time and the Woman,” Psychosomatics (1968)
- a man who is so dull
That he can learn only by personal experience
Is too dull to learn
Anything important by experience
Don Marquis (1878-1937) U.S. journalist and humorist. “Archy on this and that,” Archy Does his Part (1935)
- The only thing experience teaches us is that experience teaches us nothing.
Andre Maurois (1885-1967) French biographer and critic. Attrib.
- We have learnt the hard way that we live in a “show me” world where trust has to be earned and where statements of intent are no substitute for concrete action. But we also know that we can regain lost confidence and trust, through openness, a willingness to listen…and above all else, by taking positive steps to put our principles clearly into practice.
Mark Moody-Stuart (b.1940) British chairman of Anglo American, and former chairman of Committee of Managing Directors Royal Dutch/Shell Group. Speech to the World Congress of the International Society of Business, Economics and Ethics. Sao Paolo, Brazil. Referring to the criticisms Shell has faced from environmental and human rights groups over its involvement in countries such as Nigeria. “Putting Principles into Practice: The Ethical Challenge to Global Business” (July 19, 2000)
- Experience! Wise men do not need it.
Experience! Idiots do not heed it.
Ogden Nash (1902-71) U.S. humorist and writer. “Experience to Let” (1940)
- I have learned the novice can often see things that the expert overlooks.
Tom Peters (b.1942) U.S. management consultant and author. Eupsychian Management (1965)
- I’d seen a lot of MBAs come down to the trading floors, and they were like sheep to the wolves…They think the world will function like the nice little model or equation and nothing’s further from the truth.
Linda Raschke, U.S. trader. Quoted in Women of the Street (Sue Herera; 1997)
- Education is when you read the fine print; experience is what you get when you don’t.
Pete Seeger (b.1919) U.S. singer and songwriter. Quoted in Loose Talk (L. Botts; 1980)
- Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer and critic. “Maxims for Revolutionists,” Man and Superman (1903)
- I am putting old heads on young shoulders.
Muriel Spark (b. 1918) British novelist. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961)
- Experientia docuit.
Cornelius Tacitus (55?-120?) Roman historian, orator, and politician. Experience has taught. More commonly quoted as: “experiential docet” (experience teaches). Histories (100?), bk. 5, ch. 6
- We learned from everybody else’s book and added a few pages of our own.
Sam M. Walton (1918-92) U.S. entrepreneur and founder of Wal-Mart, Inc. “The Hot Ticket in Retailing,” New York Times (Isadore Barmash; July 1984)
- Confidence is something rooted in the unpleasant, harsh aspects of life…it has its own momentum. The longer you are able to survive and succeed the better you are able further to survive and succeed.
An Wang (1920-90) U.S. entrepreneur, business executive, electrical engineer, and founder of Wang Laboratories. Current Biography (January 1987)
- Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) Irish writer and wit. Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), Act 3
- Hindsight is always 20-20.
Billy Wilder (1906-2001) U.S. movie director. Quoted in Wit and Wisdom of the Moviemakers (J. R. Columbo; 1979)
- They have this wonderful process of learning from direct experience called “After Action Review,” in which everyone who was involved sits down and the three questions are: What happened? Why do you think it happened? And what can we learn from it? If you were…able to get those three questions as part of your process, you could become a learning organization.
Walter Wriston (b.1919) U.S. banker. Referring to the Army as a learning organization and as an example to business. Interview with Scott London, U.S. National Public Radio (November 1996)