Are you stuck in a rut? Take a look at this list of ten men who made the most of life no matter what life threw at them. They have all excelled in their vocations, from athletes to politicians.
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Muhammad Ali’s slogan of “I am the greatest” helped him on his road to becoming largely considered as the greatest athlete of all time, and it’s a suitable advertisement for the power of self-confidence if ever there was one. Ali dedicated himself to helping people after a boxing career that included some of the greatest fights ever witnessed (see our Top 10 top athletic events of all time) and was recognised for his humanitarian initiatives as much as his ring prowess. In 2016, he passed away.
Richard Branson didn’t let the fact that he suffered in school deter him, and at the age of 17, he dedicated himself to being a self-made entrepreneur. He began his record business in the basement of a church in 1970, and by 1978, he had amassed a multi-million dollar fortune and owned his private tropical island. He is now the CEO of a multibillion-dollar corporate empire, and it’s safe to say that the teachers who doubted him in school are reconsidering their assessment of his talents.
Winston Churchill served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom throughout World War II, the world’s biggest conflict. His inspirational lectures kept the British people going during these difficult years, and his never-say-die mentality spread like wildfire over the country. One of Churchill’s most famous phrases, which we would all do well to live by, summed up his conviction in resilience and perseverance: “Success is not final, defeat is not fatal: it is the courage to persist that counts.”
Although Sean Swarner is the only person in the world to have suffered from both Hodgkin’s disease and Askin’s sarcoma, the miracle of his survival was that he survived both diseases simultaneously. Not content with simply defeating cancer, he went above and beyond to demonstrate his dominance over the disease by completing the Seven Peak Challenge, which requires climbing the tallest mountain on every continent. Following that accomplishment, he went on to ski to both the North and South Poles, completing the Explorers Grand Slam, and threw in an Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii for good measure to round off his resume. Not bad for someone who has only one lung and was given only two weeks to live at one time in his life.
After steering his lunar module towards the moon’s surface, Neil Armstrong was confronted with a series of loud warning bells in the cockpit, a planned landing spot that turned out to be full of massive boulders, and a computer that wasn’t working properly. Nobody could have faulted Armstrong for panicking in this circumstance, but he remained calm and steered the spacecraft to a different landing site, where it was brought down with only 25 seconds of fuel remaining. He subsequently went on to become the first person to walk on the moon, and he is a living example of the importance of remaining calm and collected in the face of adversity or danger.
Bruce Lee, arguably the most well-known martial artist of all time, didn’t become famous without putting in a lot of effort. He worked out two or three times a day, and he spent endless hours honing his techniques and eating habits. Lee was told he would never be able to practise martial arts again after suffering a back injury, but with devotion and effort, he was able to fully recover and continue making movies and winning championships left, right, and centre.
During his first training session as a Chicago Bulls rookie, Michael Jordan participated in a mini-game in which the losing team was forced to run laps as punishment. Jordan was only 18 years old at the time. Jordan nearly single-handedly propelled his team to an 8-0 lead when the coach decided to switch him to the opposite side of the field. His new squad did not falter, scoring 10 points without allowing a single point to win the game 10-8. One of his most famous phrases is: “I can accept failure because everyone fails at something.” This mentality of overcoming any problem helped him to have a tremendously successful basketball career, which was reflected in one of his most famous quotes: But I can’t accept the fact that I didn’t try.”
Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement in the United States by using the power of speech and peaceful protest, and he impacted the lives of millions of people in the process. It’s impossible not to be inspired after hearing his famous “I have a dream” speech, so it’s no surprise that it was chosen as the best American speech of the twentieth century.
Even though his parents couldn’t afford to keep sending him to school, Malawian youngster William Kamkwamba had a strong desire to learn and went to his neighbourhood library to satisfy his curiosity. After reading a book on energy, he decided to attempt to build a windmill for his community, although he had only limited resources at his disposal. He was able to construct a functional windmill out of trees and salvaged materials, allowing him to give electricity to his small village. Because of his inventiveness and resourcefulness, he was invited to speak at a global science conference and had a book written about him.
Stephen Hawking, arguably the finest scientist of his generation, refused to allow his impairment to hold him back, achieving worldwide acclaim for his significant contributions to science. He penned best-selling books, travelled the globe, experienced weightlessness, and received accolades from prestigious institutions all over the world. He demonstrated that life is what you make of it, no matter what obstacles you confront. In 2018, he passed away.