Throughout the history of mankind, countless stories have been told. Stories of triumph, stories of new found love, stories of good versus evil, stories of adventure… what they all seem to have in common is that they can last way more than any human can. Motivational stories are powerful because they can help paint a vivid picture of success in our minds. They’re also a lot easier to remember than just plain instructions.
Although these inspirational stories are great to read, keep in mind that you are in the midst of creating your own story. A story with an ending that you get to create. Will it be a story of tragedy or will it be a story of overcoming the odds, one that will inspire others to push forward and fight for their dreams?
The following are some stories that I found to be motivational or inspiring. Feel free to let me know of any others that you happen to know about in the comments below.
Bringing a giraffe into the world is a tall order. A baby giraffe falls 10 feet from its mother’s womb and usually lands on its back. Within seconds it rolls over and tucks its legs under its body. From this position it considers the world for the first time and shakes off the last vestiges of the birthing fluid from its eyes and ears. Then the mother giraffe rudely introduces its offspring to the reality of life.
In his book, “A View from the Zoo”, Gary Richmond describes how a newborn giraffe learns its first lesson.
The mother giraffe lowers her head long enough to take a quick look. Then she positions herself directly over her calf. She waits for about a minute, and then she does the most unreasonable thing. She swings her long, pendulous leg outward and kicks her baby, so that it is sent sprawling head over heels.
When it doesn’t get up, the violent process is repeated over and over again. The struggle to rise is momentous. As the baby calf grows tired, the mother kicks it again to stimulate its efforts. Finally, the calf stands for the first time on its wobbly legs.
Then the mother giraffe does the most remarkable thing. She kicks it off its feet again. Why? She wants it to remember how it got up. In the wild, baby giraffes must be able to get up as quickly as possible to stay with the herd, where there is safety. Lions, hyenas, leopards, and wild hunting dogs all enjoy young giraffes, and they’d get it too, if the mother didn’t teach her calf to get up quickly and get with it.
The late Irving Stone understood this. He spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Darwin.
Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that runs through the lives of all these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished and they go to work.
“They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified, and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.”
– Craig B. Larson
Sir Edmund Hillary was the first man to climb Mount Everest. On May 29, 1953 he scaled the highest mountain then known to man-29,000 feet straight up. He was knighted for his efforts.
He even made American Express card commercials because of it! However, until we read his book, High Adventure, we don’t understand that Hillary had to grow into this success.
You see, in 1952 he attempted to climb Mount Everest, but failed. A few weeks later a group in England asked him to address its members.
Hillary walked on stage to a thunderous applause. The audience was recognizing an attempt at greatness, but Edmund Hillary saw himself as a failure. He moved away from the microphone and walked to the edge of the platform.
He made a fist and pointed at a picture of the mountain. He said in a loud voice, “Mount Everest, you beat me the first time, but I’ll beat you the next time because you’ve grown all you are going to grow… but I’m still growing!”
– Brian Cavanaugh
“The Sower’s Seeds”
Sir Winston Churchill took three years getting through eighth grade because he had trouble learning English. It seems ironic that years later Oxford University asked him to address its commencement exercises.
He arrived with his usual props. A cigar, a cane and a top hat accompanied Churchill wherever he went. As Churchill approached the podium, the crowd rose in appreciative applause. With unmatched dignity, he settled the crowd and stood confident before his admirers. Removing the cigar and carefully placing the top hat on the podium, Churchill gazed at his waiting audience. Authority rang in Churchill’s voice as he shouted, “Never give up!”
Several seconds passed before he rose to his toes and repeated: “Never give up!” His words thundered in their ears. There was a deafening silence as Churchill reached for his hat and cigar, steadied himself with his cane and left the platform. His commencement address was finished.
One day a father and his rich family took his son on a trip to the country with the firm purpose to show him how poor people can be. They spent a day and a night on the farm of a very poor family. When they got back from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?” “Very good Dad!” “Did you see how poor people can be?” the father asked. “Yeah!” “And what did you learn?”
The son answered, “I saw that we have a dog at home, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of the garden; they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lamps in the garden; they have the stars. Our patio reaches to the front yard; they have a whole horizon.” When the little boy was finished, his father was speechless. His son added, “Thanks, Dad, for showing me how ‘poor’ we are!”
Isn’t it true that it all depends on the way you look at things? If you have love, friends, family, health, good humor and a positive attitude towards life — you’ve got everything! You can’t buy any of these things. You may have all the material possessions you can imagine, provisions for the future, etc.; but if you are poor of spirit, you have nothing!
– Author Unknown
A parable is told of a farmer who owned an old mule. The mule fell into the farmer’s well. The farmer heard the mule ‘braying’ — or whatever mules do when they fall into wells. After carefully assessing the situation, the farmer felt sorry for the mule, but decided that neither the mule nor the well was worth saving. Instead, he called his neighbors together and told them what had happened and asked them to help haul dirt to bury the old mule in the well and put him out of his misery.
Initially, the old mule was hysterical! But as the farmer and his neighbors continued shoveling and the dirt hit his back, a thought struck him. It suddenly dawned on him that every time a shovel load of dirt landed on his back: he should shake it off and step up! This is what the old mule did, blow after blow. “Shake it off and step up… shake it off and step up… shake it off and step up!” he repeated to encourage himself.
No matter how painful the blows, or distressing the situation seemed, the old mule fought “panic” and just kept right on shaking it off and stepping up! You guessed it! It wasn’t long before the old mule, battered and exhausted, stepped triumphantly over the wall of that well! What seemed like it would bury him, actually end up blessing him. All because of the manner in which he handled his adversity.
– Author Unknown