Elbert Hubbard was a colorful figure in late 19th-century American literature. He wrote and published prolifically, but none of his works became classics, except perhaps the brief essay, "A Message to Garcia."
The piece is based on an incident in which President McKinley wanted to communicate with Cuban General Calixto Garcia to create an ally in a war with Spain. He asked his military staff to find someone who could take the message. Captain Andrew Rowan accepted the mission, traveling through Jamaica and into the mountains of Cuba to deliver the letter. He successfully established rapport with Garcia and returned a hero. Hubbard's essay romanticizes the achievement and describes the action as a symbol of responsibility and initiative. The piece sold over 40 million copies, and the phrase "find me someone who can take a message to Garcia" was repeated widely to represent an ideal subordinate who could be counted on to accept a difficult mission without asking questions and carry it out successfully.
Hubbard founded the Roycraft Press, which later led to the Roycraft arts and crafts movement in upstate New York. Through his writings and public speaking he established himself as a folk philosopher. He died with his wife on board the luxury ship Lusitania when it was sunk by a German submarine off the coast of Ireland in 1915.
Today, Elbert Hubbard is widely quoted, and I've collected many of them because of their focus on personal strengths.
My top 10 favorites...
CHARACTER - “Character is the result of two things: mental attitude and the way we spend our time.”
EXCELLENCE - “The best preparation for good work tomorrow is good work today.”
FOCUS - "The difference in men does not lie in the size of their hands, nor in the perfection of their bodies, but in this one sublime ability of concentration: to throw the weight with the blow, to live an eternity in an hour."
LOVE - "The love we give away is the only love we keep."
GRATITUDE - "I would rather be able to appreciate things I cannot have than to have things I am not able to appreciate."
LOYALTY - “If you work for a man, in Heaven’s name, work for him. If he pays you wages which supply you bread and butter, work for him; speak well of him; stand by him and stand by the institution he represents. If put to a pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.”
OPTIMISM - "The world is moving so fast now-a-days that the man who says it can't be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it."
PERSEVERANCE - "A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success."
SELF-CONFIDENCE - “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make a mistake.”
SELF-DEVELOPMENT - "The man who doesn't relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on."