— Soren Kierkegaard
This message is dedicated to the non-conformists, the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the weirdos, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the unorthodox ones who see and do things differently…the ones who like to challenge themselves to turn impossible goals into inevitable success.
These are the people who choose to live on the wild side, and who beautifully embody Dr Seuss’s quote…“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”
Born on February 2, 1904…Theodor Geisel was an American writer, poet, and cartoonist who published children’s books under the Dr. Seuss pen name.
He started using it in 1927 as a joking reference to his father’s wish for him to become a doctor.
Geisel’s success is a remarkable story of the triumph of simplicity and the direct response to a personal challenge.
By the mid 1950s, Geisel had already achieved a fair amount in his career, but nothing like what was to come.
His accomplishments included thirteen children’s books under the Dr. Seuss pen name…and while the books had received critical acclaim, they only experienced modest sales.
Around the same time, parents and educators began to fear that American children were falling behind their European counterparts in terms of their educational achievement.
It was a widely held belief that they watched too much TV, and children’s books were too boring to captivate them.
JOHNNY CAN’T READ
Concerns about the poor state of early childhood education even became a national security concern.
In stepped William Spaulding, then director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin. He too was concerned about this issue, and he was in a position to do something about it.
Spaulding had an epiphany and approached Geisel with a challenge.
Spaulding had identified 348 words that first graders should know, and he challenged Geisel to write an imaginative and captivating book using only those words.
RISE AND GRIND
Geisel initially considered the challenge “impossible and ridiculous”, but he decided that it was a challenge worth pursuing.
The Cat in the Hat was published in 1957 and became one of the bestselling children’s books of all time. Within three years, the book had already sold one million copies.
Today, more than fifty years after publication, it remains a bestseller with more than 12 million copies sold.
Emboldened by the success of The Cat in the Hat’s parsimony, Geisel took this austerity of words even further.
Another publisher challenged him that he could not write a book using just 50 words.
Geisel took on that challenge and delivered another iconic children’s book which consisted of just 50 words, Green Eggs and Ham.
Nearly twenty-five years after his death, Dr. Seuss continues to dominate the world of children’s books to an astonishing degree…and it all started due to his willingness to turn an impossible goal into inevitable success.
THE EUREKA MOMENT
Dr. Seuss learned many things about himself and his ability to make the impossible possible, but the biggest discovery was the transformative power of self-enforced constraints.
Allow me to explain…
By intentionally setting limits for yourself…by purposely reducing your options and putting yourself in a straight jacket — whether that involves the time you have to work out, the money you have to start a business, or the number of words you can use in a book — delivers better results than “keeping your options open.”
I believe Dr Seuss’s story is your story…as it’s only by being challenged, by being tested and pushed to your limits that you find out what we are really capable of.
And not just physically challenged. We need intellectual, leadership, spiritual, relational, sales, and any type of performance challenge that stretches us, forces us to overcome adversity, tests our character and commitment, and inspires us to say adios to our comfort zone.
When will your finest hour come, and how will it arrive?
In short, for an individual, team, company, community, or country to become great, they must seek out and rise to the great challenges that are thrust upon them.
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