Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.

Hellen Keller

The devastation we’ve all experienced this year probably brings back memories of the likes of 9/11 or the 2008/9 recession. As challenging as those times were, what we are currently experiencing is causing worldwide hardship on a much higher scale.

The struggle of having to face such tough times could really ware on us, to the point that it is burdensome to get out of bed in the morning. There comes a time when we need to retract, clear our minds from clutter, and sway our thoughts to the positive once again.

Below are some quotes to help you reignite the positivity that devastation has wiped out. Take some time to yourself to find perspective. I hope these quotes will spark some energy and get you feeling refreshed and motivated to face these challenges head-on.

1. Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is one of the most prolific leaders of all time. As prime minister of the UK from 1940 to 1945 and again between 1951 and 1955, he led the UK through the crucial years of World War II.

He is so highly respected that even 55 years after his death he is still remembered for his refusal to surrender in tough times, and the inspirational speeches that reinforced his people’s belief in him, and themselves.

Among his many accolades, he is most credited as being one of the forces that encouraged the UK to keep fighting against Nazi Germany. In the 1930s his career was considered over. Yet he was not to be pushed over and drove his way back into the political sphere by being one of the few voices brave enough to warn about the rise of Hitler, even though no one would listen.

Lesson Learned: Perseverance

What we can learn from Winston Churchill is not to be debilitated or silenced no matter how tough times may be, as those are the times that will shape our character. No matter how tough times may seem, there is always an opportunity to grasp onto. 

2. Bernice Johnson Reagon

Bernice Johnson Reagon is a scholar, composer, and social activist. She was a woman of conviction and believed strongly in standing up for what is right.

Among her many demonstrations was the protest against the arrest of Bertha Gober, organized by SNCC. She was also an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s.

She received several awards for her courage and stance as an exceptional role model. One of which is the Candace Award, which represents setting the standard of excellence for young people of all races.

Lesson learned: Courage

Mrs. Reagon teaches us that no matter how impractical a situation may seem, your values and beliefs are your backbone, and keep you from falling. They are your pillar of strength when the ground starts to tremble. They will keep you afloat until the storm finally ends.

3. Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan, one of the most popular professional basketball players of all time, faced his own fair share of self-doubt and criticism. When Jordan tried out for his high school basketball team during his sophomore year, they told him he was too short. All 1.98 meters of him!!

Well, when that happened he became obsessed with the sport, whether to prove a point or for his own self-satisfaction we don’t know. What we do know, is that he suddenly developed a deep inclination for basketball, when he actually wanted to pursue baseball.

Fast forward a few years and ‘little’ Michael wins 6 NBA titles in 8 years. His incredible athletic aptitude to glide through the air even warranted the Air Jordan sneaker.

Yet at the pinnacle of his career, he decided to make a career change, to baseball, which was his initial ambition. Fans and media alike were stunned by this unanticipated pivot in career.

Jordan’s explanation for the change was that he was not afraid to try something new, regardless of how successful he was at that time. The mindset that of a young Jordan has been burned into his soul. That he can accept failure, but he cannot accept not trying.

Lesson learned: Mind over matter

Although he was expected to be invincible, Jordan was humble enough to know that he was far from it. He admits to missing nearly 9000 shots, lost nearly 300 games, and missed the winning shot 26 times. Yet the mindset of a young Jordan that was burned into his soul could not be extinguished. ‘Accept failure, but never stop trying.’

4. Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott was an American novelist, short story writer, and poet best known as the author of the novel Little Women, published in 1868. This novel was seen as an autobiographical novel, based loosely on the lives of herself, her mother, and her sisters.

Alcott worked from a young age to support her family who was suffering from financial difficulties. Even as a young girl, it dawned on her that if she could not devise an alternative source of income, she would be following right in her parents’ footsteps and the struggle would continue throughout her generation. So she sought an outlet in writing.

She realized that the time in which they lived, suffering was all too common for women, and success of any kind was far removed. She, after all, had first-hand experience in suffering due to her family’s financial troubles.

She understood how to use unfavorable circumstances to her advantage, and wrote about what people of her time could relate to. As a result, the novel was so well received, that it is still published and adored by adults and children alike to this day.

Through her writing, Mrs. Alcott found her stride and dedicated her life to worthy causes such as feminism and abolitionism.

Lesson learned: Independence

Mrs. Alcott exemplifies the maverick inside us all. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain, and she will construct a makeshift umbrella, not just to shield herself, but to shield as many as she can! She is the epitome of independent thinking. Free of abatement and hesitance she put one foot infront of the other no matter how shaky the ground was and carved her influence in the lives of those who applaud her resilience.

5. Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie was the father of self-improvement. He is the author of the popular book How to win friends and influence people, published in 1936, and is still relevant today.

One of his core beliefs is that it is possible to change someone else’s behavior by changing how you behave towards them. A most valuable lesson that I, myself, have learned in life and one that truly works.

After a failed attempt at becoming a lecturer, he got the idea of public speaking at the YMCA where he lived in 1911. As he had no experience in public speaking he went into his first session completely unprepared and quickly ran out of material.

Forced to improvise, he came up with a brilliant idea which paved the way to his ultimate success. He asked the crowd what made them angry. Needless to say, the session continued far beyond where it should have ended. He discovered that Americans needed more self confidence and focus. So he based his lectures on that and developed his teachings as he discovered more and more about the human psyche.

His teachings are still popular today, as it is about human nature. Even though we have evolved culturally, basic human nature is ceaseless.

Lesson learned: Focus on what matters

Mr. Carnegie is revered for his intelligence and enlightenment in what makes sense. He rightly said that one must stop focusing on their reputation, and start focusing on their character, as character is what will ultimately mold your reputation. Developing an emotionally intelligent character ensures that you have the wherewithal to prioritize what matters and take your challenges one step at a time.

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Hayley Carelse

Hi, I'm Hayley Carelse. I am passionate about learning and self-improvement. I'd like to inspire those who are keen to succeed in life and are determined to be their own greatest success story. Make your life, your business.


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