Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Does Tenacity Figure in Your Life?

*** Consider tenacity to help propel you through tough times.

From Denny: It can be easy to get discouraged in the face of severe adversity. Right now on the Gulf Coast we are facing what may turn out to be generations of adversity. The people here are a hardy bunch and will persevere. The one thing they share is a strong work ethic and a spiritual tenacity to push through difficult times.

This photo of the small child trying to climb that fence at the ocean reminds us of when we were small children. The memories of being so small in an adult world and the obstacles we had to overcome like climbing, sliding, crawling, bumping down stairs too high to conquer any other way. Now that was tenacity in motion every day until we grew stronger and larger, moving on to tougher life obstacles.

Tenacity is often overlooked by philosophers while they are constructing an eloquent argument or elegant vision. Tenacity is that strong drive that often can take our dreams and hopes and propel them into the future vision we have for our lives.

The following quote is from a former president certainly not well liked by history. It was this Republican former governor of Massachusetts who promoted the idea of small government after the scandals of his predecessor President Harding. Harding died suddenly and propelled VP Coolidge into the presidency in 1923. He won the presidency on his own in 1924.

He didn't believe government should invest in large government programs or regulate and have a hand in controlling the economy. Read that as an unrestrained and unregulated free market of greed and corruption. This attitude may have contributed to the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. The man was a lawyer, not an economist.

He was known as "Silent Cal" since he was a man of few words and uncomfortable in Washington society. It was Alice Roosevelt Longworth who was quoted as saying, "He looks as if he'd been weaned on a pickle."

Coolridge was a quiet guy playing opposite his vivacious wife Grace. He always considered that being president was important and his words brought great weight. "The words of a President have an enormous weight and ought not to be used indiscriminately."

People wrote him off as one stiff guy so he decided to cultivate it. Hey, when you know you can't be a superstar then work with what you think you have. "I think the American people want a solemn ass as a President," he once told Ethel Barrymore, "and I think I will go along with them." In spite of his quiet status, as president he held a stunning record number of press conferences: 520.

One funny story about Coolidge in one of his uncomfortable social situations where he was often the butt of jokes: He was seated next to Dorothy Parker who leaned over to him and said, "Mr. Coolidge, I've made a bet against a fellow who said it was impossible to get more than two words out of you." His famous reply? "You lose."

It seems that those who gravitate to the Republican agenda often do not possess the best people skills - and weak social skills as they are usually uncompromising. Many do not subscribe to education to improve their attitude toward others. Many are very rigid emotionally and mentally, even fearful of change and lacking a good sense of humor.

The one thing these people rely upon, often too much and out of balance, is tenacity. Tenacity is great when tempered with sensitivity, education and a willingness to be open to others. Tenacity is a great team mate, and, if used well in combination with other attributes can help propel us through difficult situations. Coolidge used his tenacity to survive uncomfortable social situations as he was an introvert by nature.

One good thing about his presidency is that in the 1920's he actually promoted civil rights for African-Americans and Catholics. This was especially important as the Ku Klux Klan had a large following nationally at this time with over four million members. Under his administration, he did not appoint any known KKK members and the Klan lost influence rapidly. It was amazing the man was not assassinated by the millions of racists in the country at the time who howled at his promotion of non-Protestants and other races. Even today, America is over 50 percent Protestant to 25 percent Catholic.

Coolidge was controversial when he granted full American citizenship to Native Americans in 1924. He allowed them to retain tribal lands and full cultural rights. Not exactly the Republican Party of today that is homophobic and excessively racist and gender biased about equal work should get equal pay.

You can analyze presidents and presidencies for years, finding the good, the bad and the ugly. This man had his good moments and his bad just like everyone else. Perhaps he did not fully realize the impact decades later his economic policies would have on generations of Americans.

What we can learn from him is his focus upon tenacity to help win the day, acting as a mighty force to solve problems. The spirit of tenacity has a way about it that gives us courage to move through difficult situations to achieve our goals.


* Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Talent will not; nothing in the world is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is a proverb.
Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. - President Calvin Coolidge

*** Photo by Victor Bezrukov @ flickr

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