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Quote of the Day: “There is no limit to what you can accomplish as long as you do not care who gets the credit.”

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There is no limit to what you can accomplish as long as you do not care who gets the credit.

There is a question of who should get credit for this quote.  The earliest reference I can find so far gives credit to Emerson (and I’m assuming they mean Ralph Waldo Emerson), which can be found in 1879 in the United States Naval Institute Proceedings – Volume 75, but there is not a corresponding quote (or similar quote) that I could find in any of Emerson’s writings, and those have been fairly well published and indexed in Google Books as being in the public domain.

There is a similar quote, that may be the actual root or maybe just the same basic observation done independently, which is credited to a Father Strickland in Notes from a Diary, 1892-95, by Sir Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, published in 1897.  In the diary the following was noted to have been said by Father Strickland:

I have observed, throughout life, that a man may do an immense deal of good, if he does not care who gets the credit for it.

So what does this have to do with quality improvement?  While there are times that taking credit for an idea does help give us more momentum to be able to do further improvements, often there are times when if we truly care about the greater good above ourselves, then we must be willing to let go of making ourselves look good and contribute to making an organization and the leaders of that organization look good.

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Written by Jacob Walker

December 19th, 2013 at 11:59 am

Posted in Quotes from Others

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