At a time when the current voices feed us words that divide, degrade and disillusion, I decided to look for some voices that stand the test of time. My friend and mentor, Dan Miller, armed me with the book Great Quotes from Great Leaders. It takes a walk through the historical words of the most remarkable, like Ben Franklin, Nelson Mandela, Helen Keller and Douglas MacArthur.
As a United Nations diplomat, humanitarian and First Lady of twelve years, Eleanor Roosevelt actively reshaped culture. She instituted regular White House press conferences for women correspondents for the first time. Due to the President’s illness, she began to travel and make public appearances for him which redefined the office of First Lady. She was a controversial, outspoken figure because of her stance on racial issues. Occasionally, she even publicly disagreed with her husband. By the time of her death, Roosevelt was one of the most widely admired women in the world. How did she go from controversial to most admired?
Over her lifetime, Roosevelt challenged people to be more. Here are a few of her words that have stood the test of time.
“What is to give light must endure the burning.”
Where ever you are, you are designed to give light in the dark places. If you are giving light then you are on fire; so you must be able to handle the continuous burning. The best way to guard against burning up is to allow plenty of space in your life. Take one full day off from work every week, indulge in a hobby, take a walk every day, just do something that nourishes your very soul. Take a moment to figure out what that is for you.
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face . . . we must do that which we think we cannot.”
Fear gets bigger the more we cower to it. But when we begin to just do it afraid, fear starts to lose it’s grip on us! Think of the first time you got behind the wheel of a car as a teenager. It was truly scary. But now that you’ve been doing it for many years, you are comfortable with it. The more you do what you think you cannot do, the stronger and more courageous you get.
“When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.”
Some people keep on living long after they're dead — it looks like toxicity, nay-saying, chronic complaining, and taking no responsibility. If you are currently making no contribution to anything beyond yourself, you are starting to die. Thankfully, it is so easy to reverse. Just start giving to someone or some organization today.
If the voices you are hearing don’t cultivate, encourage and foster hope in you, it’s time to listen to some new voices.