5 inspirational people who succeeded against the odds
One of the most inspirational Roman emperors is Claudius. During his rule, he reclaimed parts of the Roman Empire and expanded into the Middle East region and the Balkans. He personally led the Roman army across the English Channel and defeated Britain. In his homeland, during terrible droughts which brought the country to its knees, he imported corn. This ended the bitter rioting of his hungry people.
However, when Claudius was born into a Roman noble family, he was considered a joke. He was sickly, clumsy and unattractive. He limped, spoke with a pronounced stammer and didn’t seem very intelligent. Imagining he would amount to very little, he was left to his own devices.
But Claudius’ failings were his making. When the Praetorian Guard killed his nephew, Emperor Caligula, they spared Claudius as they didn’t believe he posed a threat. By birthright, Claudius became Emperor.
Claudius took to the role immediately and executed the guards who murdered his nephew. He went on to bring peace to the land and is remembered as one of the most successful Roman Emperors of all time.
Wilma Rudolph – An Inspirational Sportswoman
Wilma Rudolph was born prematurely on 23rd June 1940. In her early life, she suffered from double pneumonia and scarlet fever. Then, at the age of 4, she contracted polio and had to wear a brace on her left leg. Her parents feared that her disability would cause her problems throughout life.
Despite her health problems, she worked hard on her physical therapy and was soon taking part in sport. In fact, at high school, she qualified for the 1956 Summer Olympics and was successful in the 400 metre relay, winning a bronze medal.
But Wilma wasn’t finished yet. She went on to compete in the 1960 Olympics and won three gold medals in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 100 metre relay. She was the first American woman to win three gold medals in a single Olympic games and is considered one of the most inspirational sportswomen in history.
Colonel Sanders – Determination at its Finest
Kentucky Fried Chicken’s famous logo features its founder, Harland Sanders. The corporation may be worth millions today but it was far from an overnight success. KFC’s inspirational story is all due to Sanders’ relentless determination.
Sanders was born in 1890. His father died when he was 6-years-old and he was left to care for his siblings, causing him to drop out of school. He then left home and went to work as a farm hand.
At the age of 16, Sanders faked his age to enlist in the army but received an honourable discharge a year later. He went on to get fired from a job on the railway for fighting with a colleague, fired from a job selling life insurance and ruined his chance at studying law by getting into another fight.
Sanders also failed in the ferry boat business and got nowhere with his plans to start a company selling lamps. He began selling chicken dishes but was involved in a shootout with a competitor. He bought a motel, which burned to the ground, taking his restaurant with it.
Trying to franchise his chicken business, his recipe was rejected 1009 times. But he never gave up his dreams of being successful. He continued to pursue his dream of expanding internationally.
Colonel Sanders eventually sold Kentucky Fried Chicken for $2 million – $15.3 million today.
Helen Keller – Inspirational Author and Humanitarian
Author and humanitarian, Keller, contracted an illness and lost her hearing and sight at the age of 19 months.
At 6-years-old, she had no way of making sense of the world and couldn’t communicate. Her instructor, 20-year-old Anne Sullivan, began teaching her words but her progress was incredibly slow. One day, Sullivan poured cool water on the young girl’s hand whilst tapping out the alphabet code for the word ‘water’ on the other hand. Keller realised the connection and had learned the code for 30 more words before bedtime.
Keller proved to be an extremely gifted child. By the age of 10, she could read Braille, the manual alphabet and use a typewriter. By 16, she could talk.
She graduated from college in 1904 and went on to write books and deliver inspirational lectures. She dedicated her life to helping deaf and blind people and is recognised for her achievements throughout the world.
JK Rowling – Rags to Riches
Inspirational JK Rowling may be one of the most famous and successful authors of all time but her journey to the top was far from easy.
After losing her mother to a long-term battle with multiple sclerosis, which took its toll on her early family life, she moved to Portugal. There, she married a local man, suffered a miscarriage and gave birth to her daughter. But the marriage only lasted 13 months and she was soon living in Edinburgh as a single mother on state benefits.
In Edinburgh, whilst writing her first Harry Potter novel, she fell into a deep depression and admits that she even considered suicide. Much of her time was spent in cafes close to her cramped apartment. There she would write her novel whilst the baby slept next to her in a pram.
After countless rejections, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was finally given the green light by Bloomsbury’s, a London-based publisher. Her series of books has now sold over 450 million copies, been made into movies and transformed her life.
She gives a sizeable portion of her earnings to charities. The very best thing her wealth has given her, she wrote on her website, is the absence of worry. “I have not forgotten what it feels like to worry whether you’ll have enough money to pay the bills. Not to have to think about that anymore is the biggest luxury in the world.”
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