What is your dream? How far are you ready to go so as to achieve it?
On earth, people who achieve are pushed forward by perseverance – hanging in there and refusing to give up until they see success. Many rarely emphasize or focus on it enough. Just like many others, I have personally had to persevere amidst many things in my leadership, business and relationships journey. Those who lead the pack do not bow down to situations. If it was for bowing down, some great names in history would not be known today. But they refused to give up and thus excelled in different fields we now know them for. Below are just a few examples for your encouragement and inspiration today:
Sir Walter Scott: He survived childhood polio which left him lame. During the banking crisis in London and Edinburgh in 1825 and 1826, the Ballantyne printing business, in which he was heavily invested, crashed, resulting in his public ruin. But he did not declare himself bankrupt. He did not even accept monetary help from admirers. Instead, in his persistence, he placed his house and income in a trust belonging to his creditors, and determined to write his way out of debt. To cut the long story short, if I was to write an epitaph for him, I would say: “Here lies the novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time, the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime, with many readers in Europe, Australia, and North America – a man who persevered through it all.” You too should persist if you are to achieve. After all, you can.
John Bunyan: At 30, he was arrested for preaching without a license; re-arrested on 12 November 1660, while preaching privately in Lower Samsell; briefly released for a few weeks in 1666 before being re-arrested for preaching and sent back to Bedford Gaol, for a further six years. But he persisted. Brought to court to plead his case, he said, “If you release me today, I will preach tomorrow” and he was imprisoned again – but he persisted. In fact, it was during his prison time that he wrote his very famous novel: The Pilgrim’s Progress. His perseverance put his name on around 30 literary works most of which have continued to enjoy worldwide readership, especially Pilgrim’s Progress. I enjoy the film that was made out of that book. He persevered. Amidst physical, financial, emotional, or social prisons, you need to persevere so as to achieve. You can.
Abraham Lincoln: Born in 1809 in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky, he was raised up in abject poverty. Lincoln was mostly self-educated. He braved his poor background and ambitiously advanced through life. Today, we know him as the 16th President of the US who led the country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis, while ending slavery and promoting economic modernization. His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became one of the most quoted speeches in American history. He persevered – and he achieved a lot. Even if you come from a poor background; even if you’re born in a one-room “self-contained” hut; even if you struggle to pay for your education; persevere and keep going. You could be the next Lincoln.
Glenn Cunningham: At 8, his legs were burned in a schoolhouse fire. Doctors wanted to amputate them but his parents refused. Doctors predicted he might never walk normally again. He had lost all the flesh on his knees and shins. Toes on his left foot were gone. His transverse arch was destroyed. It was nasty – but he persevered! He had a positive attitude and a strong religious faith, his beloved Bible verse being Isaiah 40:31. Years later, Cunningham won the Sullivan medal in 1933 for his running achievements in middle distance; came 4th in the 1500m in the 1932 Olympics; took silver in the 1500 meters in the 1936 Berlin Olympics; set the world record for the mile run at 4:06.8 in 1934 which record stood for 3 years; set the world record in the 800m run in 1936; set another in the indoor mile run of 4:04.4 in 1938; and retired from competition in 1940. Today, he’s known as America’s greatest miler of all time, with a park named after him in his hometown of Elkhart, Kansas. He was not the most intelligent; he just persevered through his storms. Even if you encounter a terrible situation that attempts to shutter your life, do not give up. You too can specialize in setting world records!
Ludwig Van Beethoven: While at High School, during my Music lessons, I studied about Ludwig Van Beethoven the German composer and pianist. Around 1796, he began to lose his hearing. He severely suffered from tinnitus, a “ringing” in his ears that made it hard for him to perceive and appreciate music. He even avoided conversation because his condition was severe. At the end of the premiere of his Ninth Symphony, he had to be turned around to see the turbulent applause of the audience. Hearing nothing, he wept – but persevered and kept a passion for music. He even continued to compose, conduct, and perform, even after becoming completely deaf! He really persevered and deserves our remembrance as an achiever. Even if you get a heavy attack in the area of your greatest passion, gifting or talent, simply persevere. What looks like the end of the road is just a bend that continues into the infinite distance!
Marian Anderson: Her family was so poor that they did not afford to send her to high school. At 12, her father died of heart failure and her grandfather a born slave also died few months later. After some time, her church members sponsored her to join high school. When she came out and applied to an all-white music school in Philadelphia, she was turned away because she was black – but she persevered. She became an important figure in the struggle for black artists to overcome racial prejudice in the US. With the help of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she performed a highly praised open-air concert on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to a crowd of more than 75,000 people and a radio audience in the millions. She worked for several years as a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee and became a “goodwill ambassadress” for the US Department of State, receiving many awards: Presidential Medal of Freedom (1963), the Kennedy Center Honors (1978), the National Medal of Arts (1986), and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1991). Whether you are despised by multitudes or lose your loved ones, do not sit back and give up. Rise up and pursue your dreams. Persevere.
A person of perseverance will proceed unhindered by any obstacles. The stumbling blocks of life will be surprised when you turn them into stepping stones into a better life! Ted Engstrom summarizes such persistence in a moving style:
Cripple him, and you have a Sir Walter Scott. Lock him in a prison cell, and you have a John Bunyan. Bury him in the snows of Valley Forge, and you have a George Washington. Raise him in abject poverty and you have an Abraham Lincoln. Strike him down with infantile paralysis, and he becomes Franklin Roosevelt. Burn him so severely that the doctors say he’ll never walk again, and you have a Glenn Cunningham — who set the world’s one mile record in 1934. Deafen him and you have a Ludwig van Beethoven. Have him or her born black in a society filled with racial discrimination, and you have a Booker T. Washington, a Marian Anderson, a George Washington Carver. Call him a slow learner, “retarded,” and write him off as uneducable, and you have an Albert Einstein.
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Samuel A. Bakutana is Africa’s foremost Leadership, Business and Education Consultant; Inspirational Key-note Speaker; and Personal Development Author of 10 books (the 11th comes out this month). As a regular Inspirational Keynote Public Speaker on national and international platforms, he delivered 98 electrifying talks in 2012, 164 in 2013, 191 in 2014, 171 in 2015, and he already given more than 171 inspirational, high-impact presentations between January and the start of December 2016 to a diversity of result-oriented audiences in public and private sectors – e.g. faith centres, education institutions, government, multi-national NGOs, etc! Follow Samuel A. Bakutana on:Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/amutusam) , Twitter (https://www.twitter.com/SamuelBakutana), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/samuel-a-bakutana-56ba046b?trk=hp-identity-name), Skillpages (http://www.skillpages.com/samuel-a.bakutana) or blog (www.excellentleading.wordpress.com). To book him for your next event, send an email now to firstname.lastname@example.org or call +256782163416 for immediate feedback. You are blessed beyond measure; so fly like an eagle!