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 Est. 1998

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Quotations about Perfection

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NOTE:  Some of the quotes on this page were submitted to me by visitors, and not all have been verified for original source or wording. I'm working hard to confirm everything, but in the meantime please be aware of the possibility for errors.  —ღ Terri, March 2021

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. ~Harriet Braiker

Perfection is the greatest flirt of them all. ~Henry Stanley Haskins, "Marginalia," Meditations in Wall Street, 1940

Certain flaws are necessary for the whole. It would seem strange if old friends lacked certain quirks. ~Goethe

Nobody's perfect, and our fondest memories of anyone are of the amusing ways they proved it. ~Robert Brault,

No one is perfect — that's why pencils have erasers. ~Author Unknown

It's better to be perfectly useful than uselessly perfect. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Nothing that is complete breathes. ~Antonio Porchia, Voces, 1943, translated from Spanish by W.S. Merwin

A man would do nothing if he waited until he could do it so well that no one could find fault. ~John Henry Newman

You can't hit a home run every time. ~C.C. Williams, 1959

Only in grammar can you be more than perfect. ~William Safire

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

To escape criticism — do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. ~Elbert Hubbard

Sometimes... when you hold out for everything, you walk away with nothing. ~From the television show Ally McBeal

Use what talent you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. ~Author unknown, quoted in The Ladies Repository: A Monthly Periodical, Devoted to Literature, Arts, and Religion, September 1874, commonly misattributed to Henry Van Dyke and Henry David Thoreau

Ideals are like stars; you will not succeed in touching them with your hands. But like the seafaring man on the desert of waters, you choose them as your guides, and following them you will reach your destiny. ~Carl Schurz, address, Faneuil Hall, Boston, 1859

Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect. ~Chinese Proverb

Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. ~Confucius, Analects

The most difficult part of attaining perfection is finding something to do for an encore. ~Author Unknown

When you aim for perfection, you discover it's a moving target. ~George Fisher

Once you accept the fact that you're not perfect, then you develop some confidence. ~Rosalynn Carter

There are no perfect men in this world, only perfect intentions. ~Pen Densham, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

The imperfections of a man, his frailties, his faults, are just as important as his virtues. You can't separate them. They're wedded. ~Henry Miller

May I never be complete. May I never be content. May I never be perfect. Deliver me, Tyler, from being perfect and complete. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club, 1996

The closest to perfection a person ever comes is when he fills out a job application form. ~Stanley J. Randall

They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they'd make up their minds. ~Wilt Chamberlain

Does "anal-retentive" have a hyphen? ~Alison Bechdel, 1990 Dykes to Watch Out For Calendar (Thanks, Chelsea)

The human story does not always unfold like a mathematical calculation on the principle that two and two make four. Sometimes in life they make five or minus three; and sometimes the blackboard topples down in the middle of the sum and leaves the class in disorder and the pedagogue with a black eye. ~Winston Churchill

He who hath not a dram of folly in his mixture hath pounds of much worse matter in his composition. ~Charles Lamb

Even the best needles are not sharp at both ends. ~Chinese Proverb

Ideals are absolutes — they are like round holes of perfection into which the square, rough-hewn pegs of reality can never be successfully fitted. ~Dr. Idel Dreimer,

Bachelors' wives and old maids' children are always perfect. ~Sébastien-Roch Nicolas (Chamfort)

The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light. ~Matthew Arnold

I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center. ~Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Player Piano

Unless I accept my faults I will most certainly doubt my virtues. ~Hugh Prather

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Striving to better, oft we mar what's well. ~William Shakespeare, King Lear, c.1605  [I, 4, Duke of Albany]

It's not that perfection cannot be achieved. It's that it's so hard to stop there. ~Robert Brault,

Have no fear of perfection — you'll never reach it. ~Salvador Dali

I beat myself up every day, without so much as a scratch. ~Terri Guillemets, "Perfectionism," 1990

All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. ~William Faulkner

A good garden may have some weeds. ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence. ~Vince Lombardi

As any artist can tell you, it is easier to reach perfection than to stop there. ~Robert Brault,

I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being. ~Anatole France, The Garden of Epicurus, 1894

Congratulations! You're not perfect! It's ridiculous to want to be perfect anyway. But then, everybody's ridiculous sometimes, except perfect people. You know what perfect is? Perfect is not eating or drinking or talking or moving a muscle or making even the teensiest mistake. Perfect is never doing anything wrong — which means never doing anything at all. Perfect is boring! So you're not perfect! Wonderful! Have fun! Eat things that give you bad breath! Trip over your own shoelaces! Laugh! Let somebody else laugh at you! Perfect people never do any of those things. All they do is sit around and sip weak tea and think about how perfect they are. But they're really not one-hundred-percent perfect anyway. You should see them when they get the hiccups! Phooey! Who needs 'em? You can drink pickle juice and imitate gorillas and do silly dances and sing stupid songs and wear funny hats and be as imperfect as you please and still be a good person. Good people are hard to find nowadays. And they're a lot more fun than perfect people any day of the week. ~Stephen Manes, Be a Perfect Person in Just Three Days!

He that will have a perfect brother must resign himself to remain brotherless. ~Italian Proverb

You see, when weaving a blanket, an Indian woman leaves a flaw in the weaving of that blanket to let the soul out. ~Martha Graham

One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection. ~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Perfection does not exist; to comprehend it is the triumph of human intelligence; to desire to possess it, the most dangerous of follies. Open your window, Octave; do you not see the infinite? You try to form some idea of a thing that has no limits, you who were born yesterday and who will die to-morrow?... Perfection, my friend, is no more made for us than infinity. We must seek for nothing in it, demand nothing of it, neither love nor beauty, happiness nor virtue.... ~Alfred de Musset, The Confession of a Child of the Century/La Confession d'un enfant du siècle, 1836, Desgenais to Octave, translated from French by Kendall Warren

When nobody around you seems to measure up, it's time to check your yardstick. ~Bill Lemley

Living up to ideals is like doing everyday work with your Sunday clothes on. ~Ed Howe

Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways. ~Samuel McChord Crothers

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Last saved 2021 Jun 04 Fri 10:27 PDT

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