Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, said Thomas Alva Edison. Genius is buried beneath multiple layers that need to be peeled off for a person to shine with brilliance, and this requires hard work and resilience.
Pick up the biography of any person whose legacy has withstood the tests of time, and you will find that their lives were sagas of hard work. Those with the dedication and faith to take the time and effort to unleash the genius within them are a precious few, and this is what differentiates legends from the rest.
Winston Churchill is one such luminary who displays all of the above traits.
Winston Churchill, Zero to Hero Story
Winston Churchill was born to Lord Randolph Churchill and Jennie Jerome (daughter of American millionaire Leonard Jerome) in 1874. As a child, Winston was provided with all material comforts, but was deprived of parental affection.
With both parents swept up in worldly affairs, thanks to their prestigious societal, Churchill had only his nanny to turn to. Mrs. Elizabeth Anne Everest also doubled as Churchill’s playmate and confidant, besides supervising him as his nanny.
Winston was sent off to boarding school at the age of seven. He performed poorly in academics during the early years of his schooling life, and faced the wrath of his tutors and parents.
His father, it has been recorded, repeatedly berated Churchill by stating that he would grow up to be a failure. The young boy did not enjoy a genial relationship with his parents – neither parent visited him at school, despite his letters to his mother begging her to do so.
As a child Churchill displayed great memory power, once demonstrated when he won an award for reciting old poetry that ran into 1,200 lines. It was during the later years of his education life at Harrow School that he first began to display signs of excellence. He was his school’s fencing champion, and began to improve at academics.
He then proceeded to study politics, first from a philosophical point of view, trying to define natural justice and natural right, and then from a contemporary point of view, scrutinizing the political conditions faced by countries across the world.
As a youngster, though his father wanted him to join the infantry, Churchill joined the cavalry. The grade requirements were low enough to let him through and, it did not require him to learn math, a subject he hated with passion.
Thereon began Churchill’s slow climb to being the man that created history.
Churchill was a multi-faceted man – he was a war correspondent, a war leader, a politician and a painter.
His fling with literature began with him signing up as a war correspondent to add additional income to his meager income as a soldier early on. “The Story of the Malakand Field Force”, “The River War”, 4 volumes of accounts of World War 1 and 6 volumes of studies of World War 2 establish Churchill’s prowess as a war correspondent. Savrola is his only fictional work, and he is better known for his war correspondence volumes and for his biography on his father, titled Lord Randolph Churchill.
History of English Speaking Peoples, The Unrelenting Struggle, The Dawn of Liberation and Victory are the other works he is known for. Winston Churchill was conferred with the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
Churchill was also an avid painter who painted more than 500 canvases during his lifetime.
Churchill was also a genius in politics. It has been reported that Churchill was the only Parliamentarian who could truly hold the attention of his fellow members, and he was the only one who enjoyed a full house audience. He did jump from Conservatives to Libertarians and then back to Conservatives, but his changes were because his ideals were being compromised.
Lessons from Churchill's Story
One characteristic of Winston Churchill that one can learn from is his knowledge of the self.
True leaders are those who allow their inner selves to guide them, not public opinion. One needs to sort out his or her priorities for themselves, and understand what it is that they stand or fight for. It is one’s inner convictions that truly matter, as they are what motivate one’s efforts. Personal goals must be set by the self, not by popular opinion.
Churchill did not allow discouraging remarks by his teachers and parents to hinder his efforts to progress, and neither did he allow his speech impediments to make him overly self-conscious. “My impediment is no hindrance,” he proudly declared when he could finally deliver flawless speeches that held everyone’s attention and motivate audiences.
Another characteristic of Winston Churchill that one can learn from is the acceptance of setbacks. Churchill was relieved of his Admiral position when he failed his duties, but rebounded when he sounded warning bells about the growing danger posed by Hitler, and progressed to be among the finest war leaders the world ever saw.
One who reads through any of the 50+ books penned about Churchill will realize that the lives of legends are not strings of successes.
The select few whose footprints remain on the sands of time are those who did not allow failure to dissuade them, and got up to continue with their work every time life dealt blows to them.
There is rarely a shortcut to true success, and the path to the same is paved by perseverance.
Winston Churchill Best Quotes
"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
"Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery."
"Never, never, never give up."
"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
"Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."
"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
"This is no time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure."
"History is written by the victors."
"Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it."
"If we open a quarrel between past and present, we shall find that we have lost the future."
"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught."
"If you're going through hell, keep going."
"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give."
"To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often."
"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
"I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."
"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."
"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."
"The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is."
"It is no use saying, 'We are doing our best.' You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary."
"Difficulties mastered are opportunities won."
"If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons."
"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."
Tal Gur is an impact-driven entrepreneur, author, and investor. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living - 1 Man, 10 Years, 100 Life Goals Around the World, has led him to found Elevate Society and other impact-driven ventures.