I love stories about individuals who have overcome insurmountable obstacles to succeed. In my opinion, adversity and failure sometimes can teach us more than all the successes in the world. As a matter of fact, overcoming adversity seems a unique part the American spirit, a part of our nature that took root in our development as a nation.
It has taken great sacrifice and the loss of millions of lives to get where we are today-the beacon of liberty for oppressed people throughout the world. Americans are acutely aware of what it takes to survive and prosper, and we admire those individuals who take on challenges and win. It's probably one of the reasons most of us pull for the underdog in any contest.
The healthcare industry is filled with individuals who have overcome seemingly impossible odds and succeeded. One is Ed Eckenhoff, CEO of the Washington (D.C.) Rehabilitation Hospital, one of the premier rehabilitation hospitals in America. Over the years, he has won numerous awards for his contributions and is considered one of the top executives in healthcare management.
But his path to success hasn't been easy. Soon after enrolling as a freshman at Transylvania University in Lexington, Ky., he was involved in a terrible automobile accident. His roommate was killed, and Ed was left a paraplegic. The doctors who attended him felt he would never be able to recover and finish college, but he did and then went on to get his masters' degree in health administration from Washington University in St. Louis. He is an incredibly talented individual and a gentleman as well. On top of everything else, he shoots golf in the low 90s and once had a hole in one.
Inspiring stories of perseverance occur in every discipline. Many of us have heard the story of Fred Astaire, the great ballroom dancer who ultimately won worldwide acclaim for his talent and creativity. In 1935 he took a screen test, and the way one studio executive summarized the test has been quoted many times: "Can't act. Can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little."
Years later when a reporter asked Astaire about his success he replied, "For a fellow who doesn't sing very well and can't dance, well, I've been very lucky." Astaire simply believed in himself and trusted his own judgment.
Like Astaire, many of the world's great writers have had to persist in their beliefs, despite the harsh reviews of critics who tried to tell them their work was no good. For instance, the New York Herald Tribune's review of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was terse and not very perceptive: "This book is for the season only," it said. Or: "I'm sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you don't know how to use the English language," from a 1889 rejection letter to Rudyard Kipling from the San Francisco Examiner.
It's so easy to fall into the trap of not trusting your own judgment and instincts, especially when there are so many "experts" out there who are only too willing to tell you what to do. My advice is this: trust your own judgment based on experience. Leaders believe in themselves, and they march to their own drummer.
Patience is a virtue, Charles S. Lauer Publisher