It is Commencement time across colleges and universities, and some speakers will be quoting Churchill on success in life. In the hope that they will quote him accurately, here is a small selection. At the bottom are two no-nos: things he never said, but is always credited as saying.
University of Miami, 26 February 1946:
I am surprised that in my later life I should have become so experienced in taking degrees, when, as a school-boy I was so bad at passing examinations. In fact one might almost say that no one ever passed so few examinations and received so many degrees. From this a superficial thinker might argue that the way to get the most degrees is to fail in the most examinations.
This would however, Ladies and Gentlemen, be a conclusion unedifying in the academic atmosphere in which I now preen myself, and I therefore hasten to draw another moral with which I am sure we shall all be in accord: namely, that no boy or girl should ever be disheartened by lack of success in their youth but should diligently and faithfully continue to persevere and make up for lost time. There at least is a sentiment which I am sure the Faculty and the Public, the scholars and the dunces, will all be cordially united upon. —WSC
Churchill on Success – Guaranteed Genuine
Churchill said much about success in life and politics, but he is frequently misquoted. His genuine quotations on the subject are less often heard. Here are some of the things that he actually said, confirmed in Churchill By Himself –in chronological order, with citations:
“You must put your head into the lion’s mouth if the performance is to be a success.” –19 February 1900, South Africa, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria, 1900.
“…do not be carried away by success into demanding more than is right or prudent.” —House of Commons, 3 March 1919
”Do not be fobbed off with mere personal success or acceptance. You will make all kinds of mistakes; but as long as you are generous and true, and also fierce, you cannot hurt the world or even seriously distress her. She was made to be wooed and won by youth. She has lived and thrived only by repeated subjugations.” –My Early Life, 1930
”…no boy or girl should ever be disheartened by lack or success in their youth but should diligently and faithfully continue to persevere and make up for lost time.” –Speech, University of Miami (Fla.), 26 February 1946
“Success always demands a greater effort.” –13 December 1940 to Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies, Their Finest Hour, 1949
“…no one can guarantee success in war, but only deserve it.” —Their Finest Hour, 1949
What he never said…
The following are all over the web and included in a number of Churchill quotation books. These are not his words:
• Success is going from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm. (Broadly attributed to Churchill, but found nowhere in his canon. An almost equal number of sources credit this to Abraham Lincoln; but none provides attribution to either Lincoln or WSC.)
• Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. (No attribution.)