What Can You Learn from Henry David Thoreau?

One of the truly inspired utterances of the 19th century has to be the one given by Henry David Thoreau, when he said “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate himself by conscious endeavor.”

Thoreau’s adage is compelling news to those of us who take self-development seriously.  It means that we are not victims – even though many of life’s unfortunate circumstances can often encourage us to feel that way.  Thoreau is right and every segment of his aphorism is loaded with truth.  The idea he is espousing is highly encouraging because it means that we are not bound by fate.  In addition, he is correct that this ability is unquestionable – it’s not debatable, it’s not uncertain; it’s absolute.  Thoreau (and I) have seen far too many examples of where people have faced great odds but overcame them with grit and determination.  Mankind (male and female) are able to elevate, to expand, to evolve, and to grow by what Thoreau calls “conscious endeavor” – or through deliberate choice.

This is great news for would-be leaders.  It means that you can develop leadership skills and then attain leadership results simply by deciding to do so and committing to do so, and then continually setting goals and executing around those goals.

I will share some real life examples of such “conscious endeavor” in coming posts.  Stay tuned.

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