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An assembly from the Culham St Gabriel archive

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To analyse the components of true success by considering quotations.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need four volunteers to perform this assembly, and they will need time to rehearse prior to the assembly. They do not need to learn their lines, but can read from their scripts. You may wish to involve more, or fewer, students.

    Select the material to suit your needs. You may like to cut some of the quotations below or add some of your own. You may choose to credit the quotations by saying who said them, but many of the sources are neither famous nor familiar, so it may be better not to mention them in case it distracts the students from the content of the quotations. Many interesting quotes are available at: and


Speaker 1: Is there anybody here who would like to have a successful life? Anybody?

Speaker 2: Successful in exams?

Speaker 3: Successful at sport?

Speaker 4: Be successful in the wider world? In your future job, for instance. Anybody?

Speaker 1: Be honest now - who wants success that brings money, fame and everything they ever dreamed of? Anybody here?

Speaker 2: Everybody wants success, I’m sure of that.

Speaker 3: What exactly is ‘success’, though? What does success mean to you? There is a poem called A successful life by the American poet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and it begins like this . . .

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people . . .

Speaker 4: Having a good time and being respected sound good, but is that all there is to it?

Speaker 1: Lets listen to what some other people have said about success. Lets make sure that we really listen - and ask ourselves whether we agree with their statements or not.

Speaker 2: Id rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate. (George Burns, an American comedian)

Speaker 3: Thats a good point. Whats the good of being a success if you make yourself miserable in the process? Success should make you feel good.

Speaker 4: I agree. So, whats the recipe for guaranteed success that makes you feel good inside?

Speaker 1: Listen to this quotation: I have heard it said that the first ingredient of success . . . is this: dream a great dream. (John A. Appleman, an American author)

This means what? Aim high.

(To audience) Do you aim high?

Speaker 2: I like this one: The first step towards success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself. (Mark Caine, an American writer)

This means what? Aim higher than you are now.

(To audience) Could you aim a bit higher than you are now? Think about it.

Speaker 3: How about this one: The first and most important step towards success is the feeling that we can succeed. (Nelson Boswell, an American author of self-help books)

This means what? Be confident that you can aim higher.

Speaker 4: What if youre not feeling confident, though? Are there things you can do to make your dreams of success come true?

Speaker 1: Making a success of the job at hand is the best step towards the kind you want. (Bernard Baruch, an American businessman)

Im going to repeat that. Making a success of the job at hand is the best step towards the kind you want.

What does that mean?

Speaker 2: It means stop daydreaming about success and put your energy and concentration into what youre doing right now.

Speaker 3: Exactly. Dont worry about yesterday. Dont worry about tomorrow.

Speaker 4: Focus on what youre doing today, on being successful in something youre doing today.

Speaker 1: Dont even worry about making a mistake. Listen to this quotation: Failure is success if we learn from it. (Malcolm Forbes, an American publisher and businessman)

Speaker 2: Many of lifes failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. (Thomas Edison, the American inventor)

Guess who said that? Thomas Edison, who patented over 1,000 inventions.

Speaker 3: That idea is echoed by this comment: The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top. (Joyce Brothers, an American psychologist and author)

Speaker 4: Heres a quotation from somebody who did get to the top: No one can possibly achieve any real and lasting success or get rich in business by being a conformist. (J. Paul Getty, an American industrialist)

Speaker 1: Whoa, whoa, whoa! Who said that?

Speaker 4: Jean Paul Getty, the American industrialist who amassed a multi-billion-dollar fortune.

Speaker 1: OK, but success isnt only about becoming rich. Listen to this: ‘Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value. (Albert Einstein, the German-born theoretical physicist)

Speaker 2: Who said that?

Speaker 1: Albert Einstein, the German-born scientist. I dont think he was very rich, but he is one of the most famous people in history. His contribution to the world is incredibly valuable.

Speaker 2: Thats true. So, what are you saying?

Speaker 1: Im saying that being successful isnt necessarily judged according to how much you can get, but how much you can give.

Speaker 4: I dont want to sound negative, but what happens if youve tried really, really hard, but it just doesnt happen? Youve worked really hard, but the result is failure.

Speaker 3: Ive got a quotation that answers that: Men judge us by the success of our efforts. God looks at the efforts themselves. (Charlotte Brontë, English novelist)

Speaker 2: Who said that?

Speaker 3: Charlotte Brontë, the novelist. Its a good quote to remember because nobody has successful outcomes all of the time. The important thing is to try . . . and thats what God is looking at. Think, did you try? Did you give it your best shot?

Time for reflection

Speaker 1: A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. (Sir Francis Bacon, English philosopher, statesman and scientist)

Speaker 4: A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds. I like that one!

Speaker 2: Thats worth thinking about. How can you - starting here, starting now - make a successful outcome of an opportunity youve been given?

Speaker 3: Just think about that for a few moments. Whats your successful outcome going to be today?

Pause to allow time for thought, and then bring the assembly to a quiet, calm end.

Publication date: December 2019   (Vol.21 No.12)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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