In this journey called life every single man will inevitable get kicked in the balls. It could be literally, or figuratively speaking, but if you’ve had a swift ‘kick’ to your manhood, then keep reading, because I’m going to share with you five stories of great men who persevered through adversity and came out on top.
#5 Winston Churchill
Claim to Greatness
Britain’s Prime Minister for most of World War II, Churchill was known for his inspiring speeches and refusal to accept defeat from the Germans.
“After graduating from Sandhurst, Churchill took leave from the army and traveled to Cuba, where he reported on an uprising for a London newspaper. He subsequently served as a war correspondent and military officer, a dual role then permitted, in India, Sudan and South Africa.
Upon arriving in South Africa in 1899, his armored train was ambushed by Boers, the descendants of Dutch settlers who were fighting the British at the time.
Churchill was captured and marched to a prison camp, which he soon escaped from by scaling a wall at night, even as two of his fellow prisoners turned back.
With no precise plan, Churchill luckily stumbled upon the house of a British coal mine manager, who hid him in a mineshaft for three days and then sent him on a wool-filled rail truck into Mozambique. From there, Churchill caught a ship back to South Africa and rushed to the front a newfound hero.”
Churchill went on to become world-famous for being a great leader.
There will come times in your life (if you haven’t already experienced it) where your back is against the wall and you feel as though you’re a prisoner to your circumstances. It’s at that precise moment where you’ll more than likely be abandoned by your ‘friends’ and possibly even family. If you quit then, then you’ll never give yourself the chance to become great. Similar to how Churchill’s fellow prisoners TURNED BACK, most people quit when times become hard and their expectations are shattered. You have the choice every time you fail to either be a quitter, or get back up and keep pursuing your vision. The choice is yours. Don’t sell yourself short.
#4 Abraham Lincoln
Claim to Greatness
Widely considered one of the, if not the greatest US President to ever serve in office, Abraham Lincoln rose from poverty (talking self-educated reading by candle-light poor) to hold the most powerful position in the world. With that power he created the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all the slaves in the southern states. He also delivered the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous speeches ever given.
Lincoln didn’t just get kicked in the nuts once, but many, many times. In fact he suffered so many defeats and failures in his life there’s a popular chart that floats around the web chronicling just how many failures he’s had.
1831 – Lost his job
1832 – Defeated in run for Illinois State Legislature
1833 – Failed in business
1834 – Elected to Illinois State Legislature (success)
1835 – Sweetheart died
1836 – Had nervous breakdown
1838 – Defeated in run for Illinois House Speaker
1843 – Defeated in run for nomination for U.S. Congress
1846 – Elected to Congress (success)
1848 – Lost re-nomination
1849 – Rejected for land officer position
1854 – Defeated in run for U.S. Senate
1856 – Defeated in run for nomination for Vice President
1858 – Again defeated in run for U.S. Senate
1860 – Elected President (success)
He changed people’s’ lives in ways we cannot fathom in our modern-day. From freeing the slaves to being a strong leader despite excruciating political pressure, Lincoln is a testament to the power of perseverance.
You will have times of failure. That does not make you a failure.
You will have times where every single person is against you. But you are not against yourself.
You will have times where life will kick you not once, not twice, but multiple times in the balls. This doesn’t mean that greatness will elude you forever, it just is a period of you being tested. How you handle those tests will determine your trajectory in life. Most people give up. Don’t be most people.
#3 Andrew Carnegie
Claim to Greatness
Andrew Carnegie came from literally nothing to become the main leader of the American steel industry in the late 19th century and in the process amassed enormous personal wealth. He was also known for being a philanthropist and the basis for the book by Napoleon Hill, Think And Grow Rich.
“Andrew Carnegie, whose formal education ended when he left Scotland, where he had no more than a few years’ schooling, soon found employment as a bobbin boy at a cotton factory, earning $1.20 a week.
Ambitious and hard-working, he went on to hold a series of jobs, including messenger in a telegraph office and secretary and telegraph operator for the superintendent of the Pittsburgh division of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
In 1859, Carnegie succeeded his boss as railroad division superintendent.
While in this position, he made profitable investments in a variety of businesses, including coal, iron and oil companies and a manufacturer of railroad sleeping cars.”
Carnegie defied ALL odds by emerging from a poverty stricken upbringing to amass great wealth and in the process literally built America. From railroads to Manhattan’s early skyscrapers, Carnegie’s steel company was the backbone of America.
You weren’t born rich?
You weren’t born into the ‘right’ connected family?
Maybe you were adopted and you’ve always felt like an outsider?
Facing insurmountable odds to get ahead in life?
It can be done. It won’t be easy. You might not have a single soul to fall back on, nor a helping hand when you need it the most, however, if you resolve inside your heart to never give up, never quit and be willing to sacrifice anything and everything to achieve your goal, then you can become great.
Like Carnegie worked his way up steadily and slowly until he gained a position that gave him the chance to do much more than he was on paper, so should any man focused on greatness work with what he has NOW and use that as a stepping stone to move closer to his overall vision.
#2 John F. Kennedy
Claim to Greatness
The US’s 35th President John F. Kennedy was known for being a progressive (not the kind we have today) and his playboy lifestyle.
Unlike many of these great men, John F. Kennedy wasn’t born into poverty, but instead came from a wealthy and elite established American family, however, that doesn’t mean that he didn’t have his share of struggles including consistent health problems, but his biggest failure was the Bay of Pigs.
“It was a three-day battle that began on April 17, 1961. As our commander-in-chief, Kennedy made the fateful decision to take the advice of top military leaders and allow for approximately 1,500 “Cuban exiles,” who were supported by American military training and equipment, to invade what was known as the Bay of Pigs in Cuba. American military personnel were also involved.
The plan was for them to gain the support of disillusioned Cubans who would join the effort to overthrow President Fidel Castro, except it didn’t work out that way. Castro’s forces of more than 20,000 military troops were waiting, and they ultimately captured and killed many of the invading force, including several Americans. America was publicly embarrassed and Castro scoffed at Kennedy, who immediately regretted his decision to invade.
Weeks after this debacle, Kennedy would tell reporter Hugh Sidey, who would later write about this conversation for a Time magazine story on April 16, 2001, “I want to know how all this could have happened. There were 50 or so of us, presumably the most experienced and smartest people we could get, to plan such an operation. … But five minutes after it began to fall in, we all looked at each other and asked, ‘How could we have been so stupid?’… I guess you get walled off from reality when you want something to succeed too much.”
But Kennedy was a quick learner and used the lessons from the Bay of Pigs to bring a peaceful resolution to the pressure-filled, high-stakes, Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Some of those leadership lessons are just as relevant today for the rest of us, regardless of our profession:
• After the Bay of Pigs, JFK would acknowledge that he did not challenge the military leaders around him who were convinced the mission would work. Leaders must aggressively challenge all advice or recommendations regardless of the source and assume the potential for the worst case scenario.
• Historical accounts after the Bay of Pigs indicate that many in the Kennedy inner circle were opposed to invading Cuba, but kept silent. Great leaders create an environment where challenging them is encouraged and supported. If no one is playing “devil’s advocate,” the risk of engaging in “group think” is dangerous and can lead to deadly consequences.
• During the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, several options for resolution were put on the table. In the Bay of Pigs, there was only one option — the invasion of Cuba. Kennedy clearly learned that it is essential for leaders to have multiple options for debate and discussion.
• No matter how bad a mistake a leader makes, or whoever else was involved in the decision-making process, truly great leaders step up and own it.
According to Ralph Martin’s book, “A Hero for Our Time,” after the Bay of Pigs debacle, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara recommended that responsibility be shared among many in the administration, saying; “We could have recommended against it and we didn’t.” To which President Kennedy responded; “Absolutely not. I am the president. I could have decided otherwise. It is my responsibility.””
Despite his unfortunate assassination in 1963, John F. Kennedy was one of the US’s most beloved presidents at all time, despite having gotten into office by a slim margin of only 120,000 votes difference between himself and Richard Nixon.
There’s a few takeaways from this:
- He succeeded despite having chronic health issues. Learn to focus on what you CAN control. Certain things in life are out of our control and there’s no sense in focusing on them. It’s waste of time and your life if you dwell on it.
- If you’re a leader you need to consider your options. As the author of the article I quoted in this article pointed out, being a leader means that you encourage those around you to offer their opinion and advice. The smart play is to hear all of your advisors out, then make an informed decision. If you create an environment where people are afraid to speak up, then don’t be surprised if you take the wrong advice.
- Kennedy stood up like a man and took responsibility for his failure. This means your ego might suffer sometimes, but take responsibility anyway. People will respect you more and most importantly by taking responsibility for your actions you’ll be able to quickly identify what you did wrong so you avoid repeating your mistake.
- John F. Kennedy barely got into office. Then he became one of the most beloved presidents of ALL TIME. Think about that for a second…sometimes you might not be the most popular guy in your school, or on the job, but continue developing the right skills and eventually you will win the right people over.
- John F. Kennedy’s style was classic and you can’t go wrong checking out old photos of him. He was also an avid cigar smoker and had many dalliances with sexy starlets of his time.
Funny how cigars, sexy girls and success all tie together.
#1 Arnold Schwarzenegger
Claim to Greatness
Where does one start? From a low-income childhood to winning Mr. Universe at age 20 and then the Mr. Olympia contest SEVEN times, to movie star, married a Kennedy, to Governator of Cali, Arnold has done it all. Even banging the maid.
Arnold’s story is particularly impressive to people because of the many struggles he overcame to become a living legend. Somethings are best seen, instead of read, so watch this 12 minute documentary and interview with Arnold as he describes his struggles and what it took to overcome them.
Arnold became great because HE made himself great. To say he’s dominated the entire world would be an understatement.
You will only get out of life what you put into it as Arnold is a testimony to achieving greatness by putting in the work and grinding no matter what. You gotta have the hustle and grind in your soul.
I can’t give you a fire.
Your parents can’t give you a fire.
Your business partners can’t give you a fire.
No one can give you the fire a man needs to succeed in life.
If you’re groping in the dark looking for a fire, then start by looking within. Find your vision first.
Without a vision then motivation, inspiration and cool memes don’t mean shit.
If someone reading this article has a real fire inside them (and I know many of you do), then print these quote cards from the article I designed, hang em beside your bed and your bathroom mirror. Don’t be ashamed when that sexy girl comes over and sees them. Tell her “Yea, I’m focused like a motherfucker” and watch how she melts.
Don’t apologize for being passionate, dedicated and determined to achieve your goals, no matter what.
You only have one life to live. Make it worth living.
Have a friend, family member or work colleague who’s struggling right now? Do them a solid and share this article with them.
Read More: How To Deal With Powerful People