Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground. – Theodore Roosevelt


Life is something that does not go by a rule book; rather there are different things one has to adapt with regard to the situations one is facing. However, many Philosophers, Motivational Speakers, and Influential personalities guide us to living life the right way by following a certain set of principles. Former American President, Theodore Roosevelt, is also among one them. Among his many quotes, one of the most famous ones is “Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground” which teaches us several ideologies concerning life. 

Theodore Roosevelt

Who was Theodore Roosevelt?

Theodore Roosevelt Junior was the 26th President of the United States with his term between 1901 and 1909. He was an active politician in the United States and also served as the Vice President of the US as well as the 33rd Governor of New York. Roosevelt was one of the most influential politicians in the United States and is still remembered for different types of progressive policies for America. He was only 42 when he became the President and even got the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his efforts in mediating and ending the war between Russia and Japan.

Roosevelt was an active politician who was always focused on getting America to a better position compared to where it was at that very moment. Other important works of Theodore Roosevelt include the construction of the Panama Canal as well as the preservation of the country’s natural resources. This quote also reflects his political and personal lifestyle where he was always trying to grow higher while keeping reality in mind. He was quite humble towards the poor as well. 

Origin of this Quote

In an address in Chicago, Illinois, in 1900, Governor Theodore Roosevelt hinted that he did not want to be Vice President of the United States. This quote was used in the concluding remarks of his address. Theodore Roosevelt spoke to children at Groton School in Massachusetts in 1904 and used the phrase once more, although this time with slightly different wording. 

However, the basic concept was well established in this speech too. Roosevelt used various variations of the proverb about stars and feet in a number of addresses over the decades. Several American newspapers used the term “keep your eyes on the stars” in a positive light in their various publications. It became a common saying. Theodore Roosevelt’s address was also covered by “The Brooklyn Daily Eagle” of Brooklyn, New York, in 1900 where they cited this quote again.

Theodore Roosevelt Statue 

Meaning of this Quote

The quote by Theodore Roosevelt provides multiple meanings and teaches us several great lessons of life which include the following. 

Practicality and Generosity

While the world is based on logic and practicals, Theodore Roosevelt conveys the point that practicality is not the only element to be focused on. Many people are basing their life decisions on being practical and looking at what’s bringing them the best benefit. However, life is about emotions as well. Sometimes, you have to think out of the box and go beyond practicality to foresee and understand the emotions behind a situation. 

For example, you may have $100 with you. While practicality dictates that you should make the best use of them on yourself, the concept of generosity states that you should also take care of those who are underprivileged. You should also spend the money on the poor and help them. This violates the principle of practicality but follows the aspect of reality which is based on both emotions and logic. 

In the first part of this quote, the main meaning conveyed by Theodore Roosevelt is that a person should be both practical and generous. Extremes on either side are not suitable. Those who are overly practical might end up hurting other people’s emotions or being too stone-hearted while those that are overly generous might be getting used by others. 

Aim High

Another important meaning of this quote is to always keep your aims high. Theodore Roosevelt clearly states “Keep your eyes on the stars”. It means that people often set up their expectations and aims too low. Only a few people emerge successful while the remaining don’t. The main reason for this is that they are not having any high motives in life. They may be lazy or not have the internal drive to reach a point high in their lives.

A picture giving the message of aiming high 

Being Realistic

The most important theme in this entire quote is about being realistic. You need to keep your aims high, you need to be practical, and you need to be generous – all by being realistic. Living life in an ideal manner is only possible when you are living it realistically. Those that live their lives in a fantasy or have unrealistic expectations or aims will never be able to have them. Set goals high, and high in a way that they are difficult but realistically possible. 

For example, not every person can go on the moon, not every person can become the President, and so on. Goals can be high, but not extraordinarily high that their accomplishment becomes impossible. For example, if you live in rented accommodation, your goal should be to get your own apartment or house but you shouldn’t have the goal to buy the entire apartment building would be ridiculous. 

This is one of the most important concepts of this quote by Theodore Roosevelt as he says “Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground” which means real-life conditions should be considered before setting up your aims. Check for the available resources, ground realities, and other similar aspects before making up a certain decision. 

Go Step-by-Step

“Keep your eyes on the stars but remember to keep your feet on the ground”. Another indirect meaning of this line is that one should go step-wise in whatever direction he is pursuing. Only then will he or she be able to achieve bigger goals as well. For example, from having a small car, one must have the goal of getting a slightly bigger car. Onwards, he can have a goal of getting an even bigger car. Further, his goal should be to add more cars to his fleet and so on. It is important to know that if the person has only a small car and his immediate next goal is to build up a fleet of cars, it will not be the right way of setting and accomplishing your goals. Always make sure that you go step-by-step.

Being Balanced

It is important to know that one must stay balanced throughout their life. Theodore Roosevelt says that one should be practical as well as generous. One should be having high aims but also keep reality in mind. These lines suggest that he is asking others to live a balanced life. Any of the extremes are not recommended. Know the fact that you also belong to this world just like everyone else. Everyone is fair and has own feet on the ground. 


We can conclude that Theodore Roosevelt said this quote to provide us with a unique aspect of life and how we can live by keeping everything in balance. The main themes of this quote were to stay balanced, go step-by-step, be realistic, aim high, be practical and be generous. This approach to life will also help us become better in terms of our personality as well. This perspective also allows us to be more honest in our daily lives. Other activists such as Martin Luther King Jr, and Margaret Mead also share quite a few perspectives like Theodore Roosevelt. 


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