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Quotes on Leaders Making Mistakes: Lessons for Project Managers

written by: Michael Guerrero • edited by: Linda Richter • updated: 3/29/2011

Famous quotes on leaders making mistakes are quite common actually. The one thing a person in management fails to understand is that mistakes and failures happen often, even to the best of us. These quotes should serve as inspiration for project managers to keep trying despite mistakes.

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    Learning From Failure

    Mistakes and failure are both terrifying prospects to a lot of people. They can be crushing and taxing on a person's ability to do what needs to be done. Several times I myself have fallen victim to the atmosphere that failure creates. However, my grandfather, who has been a salesman for 41 years and counting, has always told me that failure is only temporary and that we have to get over it if we're ever going to enjoy our successes. Those kind of sayings remind me that failure is just a part of our everyday lives; and everyone, even great people, will experience failure in some way.

    This article contains famous quotes on leaders making mistakes. These quotes are primarily about the subject of failure and what it means to succeed, in the hopes that you might find the inspiration to try again after a failure and try to succeed no matter what.

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    Theodore Roosevelt Quote 1

    Theodore Roosevelt circa 1902 

    "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed. In this life we get nothing save by effort."

    Theodore Roosevelt

    Theodore Roosevelt served as the 26th president of the United States from 1858 - 1919. He's best known for being the youngest United States president and the first American Nobel Peace Prize recipient as well as for the completion of the Panama Canal. He is consistently regarded amongst scholars as one of the greatest United States presidents. If Roosevelt's history serves as any indication of the kind of life and country he led, it was a successful one.

    As a project manager, you will be put up against the wall with difficult decisions. Some will seem impossible to handle. But you always have to remember it's better to decide and do something rather than ignore the problem and hope it gets better.

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    Winston Churchill

    Sir Winston S Churchill 

    "Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm."

    -Winston Churchill

    Sir Winston Churchill is one of the most recognizable names in history for his service as a high-ranking military officer to Great Britain in both World Wars. In his quote above, he states that failure is an inevitability and that by not allowing yourself to get dragged down by them you are already more successful. I find this quote in particular to hold some personal truths as I find myself more able to feel successful and feel better about the work I do in the long run.

    You will make mistakes as a project manager, that is an inevitable fact; but the strength of your leadership lies in your ability to learn from your mistakes and keep leading without missing a beat.

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    Theodore Roosevelt Quote 2

    Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent, 1903 

    "The boy who is going to make a great man must not make up his mind merely to overcome a thousand obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses and defeats."

    -Theodore Roosevelt

    Another fantastic quote from Theodore Roosevelt touches on failure in a different way. It's one thing to say that you will overcome 1,000 failures and do so, but to win despite having endured 1,000 failures is much more admirable.

    This quote demonstrates that failure and overcoming failures is not the measure of a project manager. What matters is how many failures they can endure and still chase success.

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    Unknown Sources

    "A hard fall means a high bounce... if you're made out of the right material."

    -Unknown Source

    "Who has never tasted what is bitter does not know what is sweet."

    -German proverb

    While not specifically quotes by great leaders, I thought I would include these quotes on making mistakes because they touch on an aspect of failure that doesn't really appear amongst quotes made by leaders. The aspect I'm referring to is the idea that failures shouldn't be considered as bad thing. If anything, failures are learning experiences that we can apply to the things we do in the future. In this way we can avoid making more failures, which is important in improving your leadership ability.

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    Images are used for promotional purposes only and are listed in the order they appear in this article.

    Theodore Roosevelt circa 1902

    Sir Winston Churchill

    Theodore Roosevelt by John Singer Sargent

    Sources: Proverbia.Net (on the subject of Failure), retrieved at