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Loosely translated, the proverb means that if you are determined and daring, then you can achieve everything you set out to do. Becoming a government official is a desirable end-goal equivalent to becoming rich. However, the honor isn’t in becoming a government official per se, but in what becoming a government official brings about. In ancient Asian cultures, a commoner studied hard and passed a vigorous exam in order to become a government/court official under the king. The word “quan” in this proverb probably refers to the authority and change in status that was gained as a newly appointed court official historically, since the word “quan” is rarely used to refer to government officials today. The proverb designated having power and having riches as the two aspirations, a very accurate depiction, since a majority of the world sets out to have one or the other.

The English language has many quotes or sayings with a similar meaning. Examples include “You miss 100 per cent of the shots you don’t take,” “You only live once,” “Carpe diem” (seize the day), “Every journey starts with a small step” and “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”