Seven Most Important Lessons my Heroes Taught Me
Lesson #3: Optimism works.
Helen Keller was left blind and deaf by a severe illness when she was nearly two years old. With the help of her teacher and mentor, Anne Sullivan, she used her exceptional mind and strong will to learn how to communicate.
In 1904, Keller graduated with honors from Radcliffe College. She authored a number of books about her experiences while lecturing and fundraising on behalf of handicapped people. She proved to the world that disability does not mean inability.
How did she do it? Somehow, she came to the logical, brilliant, practical conclusion that optimism works. She chose to look to the bright side of things, no matter how dark life seemed to be. That decision made her life work better. Helen Keller said, “Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadows.”
Here’s what my co-writer, Dave Kinnoin, and I wrote in our song about Keller:
“The world is not always as it may appear
For things we feel are far more real than what we see and hear.
Your dreams can shine like the brightest star,
As long as you remember to believe in who you are.
Keep your face to the sunshine
You won’t see the shadows fall
Trust the Spirit when you hear it call
You can do it all.”
Wilma Rudolph grew up in a home that had no electricity and no running water. She spent most of her childhood sick in bed. At the age of six, she was fitted with a metal leg brace and told she would never walk again. Her mother the optimist, however, told her, “You can be anything you want to be, as long as you believe it.” Wilma Rudolph turned her life around to become the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympics in 1960. Her medals came in sprinting events, which meant, she was literally the “fastest woman in the world.”
How did she do it? Optimism, determination, dedication, and great courage.
She said, “Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. The potential for greatness lives within each of us.” And that’s because optimism works.
Melinda Gates once noted that the great hero Warren Buffet is not an optimist because he’s wealthy. He’s wealthy because he’s an optimist.
Thomas Edison was probably the greatest inventor who ever lived. Over 1,000 patents are attributed to him. When his invention factory burned to the ground in 1914, destroying one-of-a-kind prototypes, and causing $23 million in damage, do you know what he said?
“Thank goodness all our mistakes were burned up. Now we can start fresh again.”