Self-improvement gurus write books on important life lessons. Each lesson is portrayed as the greatest life lesson you must learn. Then, in the next chapter, they give you another “most important lesson” for improving your life.
I’ve been wondering, if I was forced to only champion one greatest life lesson, what I would choose. It didn’t take long for me to decide.
My greatest life lesson was taught to me by Winston Churchill.
He gave a speech on October 21, 1941 at the school he graduated from as a teen. World War II was in its tenth month. He recapped the progress Britain had made. And then said what he’d learned from all this was:
“…never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”
There it is. The greatest life lesson is: NEVER GIVE UP.
Are you disappointed? Were you looking for something more profound? If that’s your reaction, you’ve been fooled by the simplicity of this deeply profound truth.
If life is to have value, especially for those over 55, we must keep on going. The temptation for those in the older crowd is to allow the weight of past disappointments and failures to discourage us to the point of giving up. Let me say it again:
THE SINGLE GREATEST LIFE LESSON IS TO NEVER GIVE UP.
I know. I don’t walk in your shoes. I’ve not experienced your pain and hurt. But I’ve had my own share of agony and disappointment. In spite of that, I’ve made the decision to forge ahead.
Imagine how different our world would be if these people had given up:
- Winston Churchill failed the sixth grade and was defeated in every public office he ran for.
- Marilyn Monroe was told by Columbia Pictures she wasn’t pretty or talented enough to be a successful actress.
- Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he lacked imagination and good ideas.
- Former vice-president Dick Cheney flunked out of Yale twice.
- Jerry Seinfeld, in his first comedy performance, was booed off the stage.
- Vincent Van Gogh sold only one painting in his life.
If you are alive, there is hope of a better future.
Never give in. Never give up.
And if you can master this life lesson, anything is possible.