Currently I find myself working through the biography of Dwight Eisenhower. He served as commander of the coalition forces in World War I. Later among other accomplishments he completed two terms as a very popular president.
It’s incredible that one of the giants of American history so often received the label of “average.” From school to sports to life many people say that he simply did not stand out. At least as far as I’ve gotten in his life so far! As of tonight Eisenhower just got married and serves as a 30 something army officer.
Dwight Eisenhower demonstrated grit
Yet even in his first three decades two things stand out. First, his experiences taught him grit. In college, studies failed to motivate him and he frequently got demoted for pranks. (he attended West Point) Despite strong motivation, however, he showed a drive to get his college education.
Ironically sports salvaged his tenure at West Point. Ike discovered a love for football and other sports. He showed up early and stayed late working like crazy. Yet, he did not stand out as an athlete. He led by loving the game and working insanely hard. He led because people liked him and he possessed grit.
So far in my reading Ike stands out for his perseverance against odds. He possessed grit. He possessed a willingness not to quit.
Dwight Eisenhower was fun
Ike also had fun. He did not come from money so he needed to work. Yet he didn’t succeed wildly at first because of his work. People simply liked Dwight Eisenhower. He possessed the ability to make another person feel valued. He maintained that ability as I understand throughout the rest of his career.
It’s no accident that the most memorable presidential slogan for Dwight Eisenhower reads
“I like Ike!”
Given that Ike still has 2 world wars and two presidential campaigns ahead of him I have a lot to learn. Yet, I think I will find these characteristics of gritty determination and the capacity to have fun or to be likable. I need to work on my grit and my love for other people.