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Words of Wisdom

Longfellow: We Judge Ourselves on Capability, Others on Accomplishment

"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was an American poet and professor known for his popular brand of lyric poetry and for being one of the five “Fireside Poets” alongside William Cullen Bryant, John Greenleaf Whittier, James Russell Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. His most well-known works include the epic poems Evangeline, The Song of Hiawatha, and the novel Kavanagh, from which this quotation is excerpted. Kavanagh features a character who plans to write a masterpiece novel only to be continuously subdued by procrastination. Think about the many promises you’ve made — to yourself or others — and whether it’s right to judge yourself on intention or capacity rather than accomplishment.


“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

Source: Kavanagh


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