What is it that makes a particular individual’s life stand out among the rest? What is a common thread amongst people who do something so great in life that their names and stories stand the test of time and are remembered for generations to come? The common theme amongst these individuals I’ve chosen to highlight, who I have no doubt you will also find incredibly inspiring is this:
THE TIME IS ALWAYS RIGHT TO DO WHAT IS RIGHT.
Enjoy the brief lessons these 7 remarkable individuals demonstrated through the amazing examples they set in their lives. Let us all strive to incorporate such noble ways of being into our own personal and professional lives for the betterment of all of humankind.
1. Martin Luther King Jr.
Probably the most well known Civil Right leader who ever lived, the American humanitarian and activist was so inspired by Henry David Thoreau’s writing on Civil Disobedience that he was compelled into such passionate action that he helped to completely change the landscape of our country at a time it needed it the most. He helped organize The Great March on Washington in 1963, one of the largest political rallies in United States history, where an estimated 250,000 people showed up in front of the Lincoln Memorial and he delivered a speech so powerful that he has gone down in history as one of the greatest orators of all time. To think that in a time without cellphones, the internet, social media or any other modern technology we all rely on today one individual could be so moved by a cause for the betterment of others and could gather that many people together at once! What could you do if you found a compelling reason why? MLK received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 for his non violent opposition to racial inequality, and was assassinated in 1968. The profound lesson taught by MLK can best be summed up by his own quote:
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.”
2. Helen Keller
The world is full of stories of individuals born with physical disabilities and stories of courageous souls who were born into challenging times and in difficult situations yet still lived a victorious life. Yet the deaf and blind speaker, author and political activist Helen Keller has to be one of the most noteworthy and most quoted people throughout history. Helen Keller’s friendship and mentorship from Anne Sullivan marked a major turning point in her life and we see through her life’s story the impact one individual can make on the life of another through patience and compassion. Love, friendship, compassion and service to others and to causes greater than our self really are the best and most beautiful things in life. These are things we all can experience the power and beauty of in life, whether we can see and hear or not. Helen Keller’s life left a legacy that taught us all the incredible impact one individual can make in life by focusing on what they can do, not what they can’t. In her own words:
“I am only one, but I am still one. I cannot do everything but I can still do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
3. Nelson Mandela
Often considered in South Africa as the “Father of the Nation” and the “Founding Father of Democracy” there is no doubt that the impact Nelson Mandela made in his life is one that will be remembered for countless years to come. How committed are you to your beliefs? What are you willing to endure in order to see your dream come to pass? So passionate was Nelson Mandela’s belief in his cause that he endured 27 years in prison only to be release and become the first black South African to hold the Presidency of his country. His leadership as a anti-apartheid revolutionary focused on tackling racism, inequality and poverty and so strong were Mr. Mandela’s beliefs in democracy that he would even go along with majority decisions even when deeply disagreeing with them. A passionate believer in “inclusivity, accountability and freedom of speech” as the fundamentals of democracy, everything about this amazing man’s actions exuded his personal drive and belief in human rights. The lesson taught by Nelson Mandela’s inspiring example in life is clearly one of overcoming challenges and steadfastly moving forward in despite of all adversity. Anything is possible when someone refuses to quit, as Mr. Mandela said:
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
4. Mother Teresa
One would have to search very deeply to find another example of an individual who’s life was so deeply committed to the love and service to others than Mother Teresa. She founded the Missionaries of Charity and the 4,000 plus sisters in 130 plus countries provide service for the needy and less fortunate on such a grand scale that it is impossible to ignore. Hospices and homes for the sick, schools and orphanages, soup kitchens and counseling programs are ran across the globe making the difference in the lives of countless people, all because of one individuals amazing example of unconditional love and selflessness. How many of us could take such an inspiring person’s example to heart, to love people and not to judge them? In a time when there are so many people around the world suffering and in need, how we all could benefit from giving a little tender loving care to our fellow brothers and sisters in need. The profound lesson taught by this extraordinary individual is simply this:
“Spread love everywhere you go.”
5. Oskar Schindler
The incredibly inspiring and heart-wrenching story, as popularized in the 1993 film “Schindler’s List” is by far one of the most amazing examples of the impact one person can make when their heart is moved to do what is noble and what is just. The German Industrialist initially employed nearly 2,000 Jewish workers during World War II to exploit the cheap labor for wartime profits in his enamelware and ammunition factories. The turnaround from a money motivated profiteer to a humanitarian caused this man to spend all of his fortune on bribes and black market purchases for his Jewish employees and subsequently save the lives over over 1,100 individuals. After the war ended Oskar Schindler not only never regained his wealth, but later in life lived off a small pension from the German government. The lesson exemplified through this man’s actions are simply one understanding the value of life itself, so simply stated by his own words, “If you saw a dog going to be crushed under a car, wouldn’t you help him?” Do you realize the difference each of us can make, by simply valuing our own life and the life of others? A ring given to him made from gold from dental work taken out of the mouth of one of the individuals who’s life he saved was inscribed with the perfect words to sum up Oskar Schindler’s profound lesson:
“He who saves one life, saves the world entire.”
6. Mahatma Gandhi
A list of amazing individuals who have left their mark on the world would definitely not be complete without on of my personal favorite sources of inspiration, Mohandas Gandhi. Another inspiring leader of non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi lead British ruled India to independence and was one of the biggest sources of inspiration for civil rights and freedom across the globe. A purveyor of truth and an steadfast example of non-violence in all situations, Gandhi clearly understood that the secret to inspiring others was through one’s walk not through their talk. Fasting to promote harmony, purify himself and as a form a social protest, India’s beloved “Bapu” (meaning “father” or “papa”) always sought to be an example of the truths he shared by practicing what he preached. Despite his overwhelming popularity and public favor, Gandhi remained so humble that he even expressed distaste for the Sanskrit title he was given of Mahatma, meaning “great soul.” He also even refuted others attempts to glorify him, by saying “There is no such thing as “Gandhism”, and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle or doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems…The opinions I have formed and the conclusions I have arrived at are not final. I may change them tomorrow. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and non-violence are as old as the hills.” This man clearly lead by example and the truths and principles he shared throughout his life will be remembered for generations to come. “An eye for an eye only leaves the whole world blind” is a great quote Gandhi left for us to remember his shining example of leading with Love. The lesson we can all learn from this amazing man can best be summed up by what is most likely his most famous quote:
“Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
All of these great people clearly showed in their lives that Love is the answer. Let us all emulate them and make the world a better place. Post your thoughts in the comment section as well as any other individuals who you find particularly inspiring!