I read biographies of great men and women. Do you?
If you admire them, you probably see some of their qualities in yourself. Your potential for similar greatness.
And when you learn how they navigated the nettles in their lives, it helps you navigate your own.
Take Theodore Roosevelt, for example. To me, the man was amazing.
I envy his ability to speed through thousands of books and remember everything he read.
His physical stamina. His moral clarity. His knowledge and expertise on a dizzying number of topics.
His ability to express himself in a vivid and enrapturing way. His tremendous output as an author, both in quantity and quality of books and articles.
It’s easy to conclude that such a person was gifted and us mere mortals can’t hope to achieve at his level.
Until you read Edmond Morris’ biography and you get to a paragraph like this one:
“As always, he found it difficult to marshal his superabundant thoughts on paper. A perusal of the manuscript of Volume One [Ed -of his book "The Winning of the West"] shows what agonies its magnificent opening chapter, ‘The Spread of the English-Speaking Peoples,’ cost him. A veritable thicket of verbal debris—interlineations, erasures, blots, and balloons—clogs every page: only the clearest prose is allowed to filter through.
“DURING ALL THE SPRING and summer of 1888 Roosevelt complained about the slowness of his progress on The Winning of the West: ‘it seems impossible to write more than a page or two a day.’”
- from “The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt” by Edmond Morris
And you read about how his first public speech was a flop. And that he also had days when he just couldn’t get himself to write – so he went hunting.
Sure, he was brilliant and talented. But he was also human. He struggled with his limitations, like you and I do.
Once you see how he was in fact human, you want to know how, then, did he do it?!
It was his discipline. His persistence. With physical exercise. With study. And with everything else he did. (Including pursuing Alice Hathaway Lee, who became his first wife.)
You are reminded that the rules of personal growth and success really do apply to everyone. They are just rules. You can harness them if you choose. Or you can break yourself against them.
And you realize that those are things you can imitate – in your own way.
Most quit because they feel there must be a shortcut being kept secret from them.
When you let the air out of the illusion that others have it easier, my, you suddenly remember what you could achieve.
PS – Who’s biography inspired you? Did reading about someone else help you become aware of what you’re capable yourself? Share with us in the comments section below.