Neck, Manz and Houghton in their book entitled “Self-Leadership, The Definitive Guide to Personal Excellence, define self- leadership as a process of leading yourself to overcome obstacles to your goals. Although everyone practices self-leadership not everyone practices self-leadership effectively. Effective self-leadership helps us to persevere and refuse to let initial failures rob of us of our aspirations. It helps us to follow our hearts and keep forging ahead until our dreams become realities. Effective self-leaders believe that impossible is possible, that the unthinkable is thinkable, and that the undoable is doable. Consider the following examples of people who led themselves to personal excellence despite the unhelpful things some tried to tell them.
- Seuss’s first children’s book, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, was rejected by twenty-seven publishers. The twenty-eighth, Vanguard Press, sold 6 million copies of the book.
- The book Chicken Soup for the Soul, written by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, was turned down by thirty-three publishers before Health Communications agreed to publish it. Major New York publishers said, “It is too nicey nice” and ‘Nobody wants to read a book of short little stories.” Since the first book came out in 1993, more than 80 million copies of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have been sold worldwide, with translations in thirty-nine languages.
- Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light, the photograph, and more than a hundred other useful items, was told by a teacher that he was too stupid to learn anything.
- A Munich schoolmaster told ten-year-old Albert Einstein, who later became a brilliant scientist, “You will never amount to much.”
- As a young man, Walt Disney, the great cartoonist and movie producer, was advised to pursue another line of work by a newspaper editor in Kansas City, who told Disney, “You don’t have any creative, original ideas.”
We too can overcome every odd and lead ourselves to personal excellence.