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The Lessons of Eleanor Roosevelt #1: 
Hanging Tough

I recently listened to an excerpt from Robin Gerber's important work,Leadership the Eleanor Roosevelt Way: Timeless Strategies from the First Lady of Courage and I was astounded by how much hardship she dealt with in her life. Before the age of ten, her mother, father and brother had all passed away. In her twenties, she discovered her husband, future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was cheating on her with her social secretary. He later was stricken with polio and could no longer walk. These are the kinds of events that would make most people slink into a corner and blame their inactivity on their painful life. This was not to be so for Eleanor Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was more or less a good daughter, then housewife for the first four decades of her life. It wasn't until the outbreak of World War II that she became an activist. She pushed for women to vote, which contributed to her husband's unprecedented three presidential victories. She held press conferences that only women could be elected to and she received derogatory tags from male reporters such as "Eleanor Everywhere." She made a major impact on the beliefs of what women thought was possible, despite all of these hardships that life laid on her.

We like to whine and earn as much pity as possible instead of putting our head down and getting the work done. We cite our emotions, saying that we simply aren't in the mood to write or to put in the effort. We say that it's too hard and that things like work and keeping our house in order get in the way. We even state things like "I'm too old, it's too late to make much of an impact." Eleanor Roosevelt didn't throw a pity party when she lost most of her family and when she learned of her husband's infidelity. She decided that in such a fragile life she would make an impact despite her tough life. She didn't even truly get started on these pursuits until she was in her forties, which was still enough time for her to earn praiseworthy titles like "First Woman of the World."

I realize that she was in extraordinary circumstances, being married to one of the most prolific politicians of her day and being somewhat foisted into the public eye. But she could have shrunk from it like many other first ladies had done. Eleanor Roosevelt rose to the occasion and turned her life into a beacon of hope for women everywhere. The next time you feel like whining or blaming your lack of productivity on something, think instead about hanging tough like "Eleanor Everywhere" and claim the live you know is possible for yourself. 

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    Written by Bryan Cohen

    Bryan Cohen is the author of more than 30 books, many of which focus on creative writing and blasting through that pesky writer's block. His books have sold more than 20,000 copies. You can find him on and Facebook.

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