Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations. 1989.
Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527)
No one should be astonished if in the following discussion of completely new princedoms and of the prince and of government, I bring up the noblest examples. Because, since men almost always walk in the paths beaten by others and carry on their affairs by imitatingeven though it is not possible to keep wholly in the paths of others or to attain the ability of those you imitatea prudent man will always choose to take paths beaten by great men and to imitate those who have been especially admirable, in order that if his ability does not reach theirs, at least it may offer some suggestion of it; and he will act like prudent archers, who, seeing that the mark they plan to hit is too far away and knowing what space can be covered by the power of their bows, take an aim much higher than their mark, not in order to reach with their arrows so great a height, but to be able, with the aid of so high an aim, to attain their purpose.
NICCOLÒ MACHIAVELLI, The Prince,chapter 6.Machiavelli, the Chief Works and Others, trans. Allan Gilbert, vol. 1, pp. 2425 (1965).