The Wisdom of History

Timeless Lessons
from the Legends

Distilled into Practical
Strategies, Tactics,
and Tools

Wisdom and Insights...
from the Heroes of History

When Senator John F. Kennedy was running for president in 1960, he repeatedly promised to “get America moving again.” The morning after his inauguration a small, jubilant group of his closest staff met in the Oval Office to celebrate his victory. The staff soon departed leaving President Kennedy alone.

Within minutes, Kennedy picked up the phone and called his aide, Ralph Dungan, back into the Oval Office. When Dungan hesitantly reentered, a wide grin spread across Kennedy’s face as he asked: “What do I do now?“

It’s a question we all ask ourselves at times—even if you’re the guy in the most powerful office in the world, even if you’re JFK.

“The starting point of all achievement is desire.”

"Keep this constantly in mind," wrote the great American personal development author. "Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat!"
–Napoleon Hill

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

–Theodore Roosevelt

We all want more out of life. Most everyone wants to do more, achieve more, and become more. The problem is most people don’t know what to do to get what they want, or they don’t know how to do it. Sadly, some people don’t even know what they want—at least not with any real clarity or conviction.

What about you? Chances are you are nowhere near where you really want to be, right? Based on the science of human potential, you’re more than likely nowhere near where you could be either.

The longer you wait to take action, however, the more opportunities you miss, the further behind you fall, and the less likely you are to act. Of course, it’s rarely ever too late, but why wait? As Theodore Roosevelt often said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

"Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing."
–Abraham Lincoln

Winston Churchill British Prime Minister

Winston Churchill

Though we remember him today as one of the greatest leaders that ever lived, and a pivotal figure in defeating Adolf Hitler in World War II, Winston Churchill knew what it was like to struggle to succeed. After all, not only did he fail the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst twice, but he was only twenty-four when, in 1899 he ran for his father’s old seat in Parliament and lost. The defeat left a mark. Churchill described his feelings as, “those feelings of deflation which a bottle of champagne, or even soda-water, represents when it has been half emptied and left uncorked for a night.”


Thomas Edison

One of the driving reasons most people fail to succeed at anything remarkable is because they give up too easy, and too soon. “Many of life's failures,” Edison said, “are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” Better to be more thoughtful about what we pick up and then learn to persevere.

The reality is there is a great deal that you can do right now, right where you are. In fact, there are people just like me and you who are making things happen, and getting things done—remarkable things—on a regular and consistent basis.

This has always been the case. Throughout history we can see that some people—people who do not necessarily have any greater natural talent, intelligence or capacity—are able to make things happen and get things done.

Sometimes the most ordinary individuals, from the most obscure backgrounds, facing any number of seemingly insurmountable obstacles are able to soar to the greatest heights of society. What is it about these people? What is their secret? What do they know, think or do that escapes the notice of the vast majority?


Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s entire life was a succession of overcoming challenges and pushing through painful setbacks. While many of the world’s great leaders were born into positions of power and privilege, Lincoln had no such advantages. He was born in a one-room log cabin. He had less than a year of formal education. His father lost all of their property when Lincoln was five. His mother died when he was nine. He failed in business. He lost his first true love when he was twenty-five (not to another man, she died). He suffered from depression. His wife was mentally unstable (and abusive). He endured several electoral defeats. And yet through it all, driven by his abundant ambition, as he himself acknowledged, Lincoln rose to become President of the United States, ultimately, both ending slavery and preserving the Union.

Classic Influence Podcast_Timeless Lessons from the Legends of Leadership, Influence, Power, and Sway

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