We all have an ideal that we look up to and wish we could emulate. Sometimes it starts very early, we worshipped the kid in elementary school that seemed perfect and had all the good toys. When we are teenagers, we would give anything to have the perfect hair, the perfect body, the perfect boyfriend… or maybe it was grades, leadership or being the best athlete. Most of us spend our lives wishing we were a “Golden Child”- those that seem to have everything handed to them and those to whom everything comes easy. Wanting it ALL and wanting to get it by the easiest and quickest means possible becomes an all encompassing career for some people.
In spite of all that we have seen lately, history has proven that the most fulfilling and important lives have been those that were disadvantaged, troubled or riddled with difficulties. Why is there such a disparity between what we worship and what is really important ? Why is it human nature to envy what we know in our hearts is really only illusion ?
I was thinking about this and I started making a mental list of those people that prove beyond any doubt that humble beginnings can make for greatness. I am well aware that there are many people out there that are heroes that we will never hear of….but here’s a few that we all know, just to get the ball rolling.
Nelson Mandela- it’s amazing to think of what this man endured and how he turned his life into a force for good and change. 27 years in prison would break anyone but Mandela taught the world that finding love in your heart is possible no matter what horrific conditions a person goes through. I love his quote: “As I walked out the door toward the gate that would lead to my freedom, I knew if I didn’t leave my bitterness and hatred behind, I would still be in prison”. I wonder if, during the worst of those 27 years, he could have ever imagined that his life would turn around so completely and he would become such an inspiration to the whole world.
Queen Elizabeth 1- The Daughter of King Henry VIII and Ann Boleyn, she lost her mother at 2 years old, was declared “illegitimate” for a time and had to endure many attempts on her life and all kinds of treachery to ascend to the throne of England. Once there, she brought England out of financial ruin and the dark ages, ruled for 44 years and made England THE true power in the world. A great quote from near the end of her reign: “Of myself, I must say this, I was never any greedy, scraping grasper, nor a strait, fast-holding prince, nor yet a waster. My heart was never set on worldly goods but for my subjects’ good”. She was a real Bad-Ass in a time when women were considered nothing. If you want to really get my point, read “Elizabeth 1, CEO- Strategic Lessons From The Leader Who Built An Empire” by Alan Axelrod.
Helen Keller- Come on !! Is there any better example ?? What would YOU do if you were deaf and blind from 19 months old….. what COULD you do ?. Annie Sullivan became her teacher and Helen was able to learn to communicate. Helen went on to write a number of stories and books, including her own autobiography at 22. Helen also became a voice for Women’s Suffrage and labor rights. Proof that if the spirit is willing- ANYTHING can be accomplished. Helen said: “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties” WOW- seems so simple and if she could do it…is there any reason we cannot?.
There are so many more and I will leave you to find your own examples. In these strange times, when values have been twisted and the best parts of humanity are obscured in favor of adoring the rich,famous and hot, we need to remember that being The Golden Child isn’t always what we really need or the way to find the best of what’s inside us. Things are hard for everyone these days, there are so many challenges but those hardships can turn into triumphs if you keep your vision clear, keep your faith right next to you and always have hope.
Take some time to think about what you have come through in this life and give yourself some credit for all your hard work and patience. We are all a work-in-progress and it ain’t over yet !!