What the greatest generation can teach us.- By Johnny Roman

We have all heard the term "greatest generation". Some of you as I have, may have read legendary news anchor Tom Brokaw's famous book about the generation of americans who lived and triumphed during the period of the Great Depression through the 1950s. All the acclaim that they have received is completely justified. After all, what they went through was unique and transcendant. Their endurance and exploits catapulted America into the preeminent world power after World War two.

Their successes were not just limited to the geopolitical arena. That generation also produced the mightiest economic powerhouse that transformed America from a rising economic power to become the most dominant. From 1945-1960, this country experienced an economic resurgence that elevated many from poverty and rural living, while propelling many to work for thriving corporations in the cities. Indeed, all of us owe them a debt of gratitude for their service, resilience, and innovation.

Thankfully, their legacy also leaves us with many lessons that can ensure that we too can rise up through dark times, and realize our potential. In this post, Im going to discuss the most important things the greatest generation can show us to achieve spiritual and emotional greatness.

1). Resilience

When you hear first hand accounts of life after the stock market crash of 1929 and through the Great depression, one can only imagine how overwhelming and painful that experience must have been. Then to have to rise up and face the dark clouds of a world war that transformed this country and the rest of the world forever; the greatest generation understandably could have quit. Therein lies the importance of being resilient. Just like intense pressure can produce diamonds out of coal, sometimes our finest attributes can be developed and refined during times of crisis. If you just keep grinding away at a challenge, you are bound to create an opportunity out of adversity. The lesson here is never give up when a tragedy or unforseen challenge approaches. Your job is to be positive and resilient until you subjugate your obstacle and use it to create a new opportunity that builds your confidence. Only then, will success come your way!

2). Positive attitude.

After seeing Europe and Asia being overrun by the military might of Nazi Germany and Japan, it would be understandable if many viewed the future with trepidation. However, after the shocking and appalling attack on Pearl harbor, americans only saw victory as the only possible outcome for them. Instead of cowering in fear, many organized war bond rallies, Hollywood created the canteens, and morale was increased. In that turbulent time, many saw victory as a possibility not quitting or despair. The lesson for us is that no matter how ominous or menacing the challenge, you have to believe that you can come out victorious and succeed. Plan enthusiastically for your achievements, and dont let anyone deter you with negative talk and hopelessness. Live your life to win, not in expectation of fear or failure.

3). Band together.

As I mentioned before, many americans came together during their darkest hour. The war bond rallies, canteens, and other activities helped people come together. Many realized that we are all in this together, and isolation and dissension would not help the cause. The next time you undergo heavy adversity or despair, do not isolate yourself. You must seek solace and encouragement from those who love you the most. Studies have shown that prolonged isolation leads to a gloomy outlook on life, and the development of many injurious habits. Instead of ruminating about your situation, make sure you create or participate in activities that foster unity and professional growth. Languishing alone at home constantly will only further you from your goals and recovery.

4). Humility.

This is without a doubt one of the most endearing qualities. During the dark times of the Great Depression and World War two, many americans rolled up their sleeves and put their heads down and went to work. It wasnt about prestige or status in that moment. Pride and ego took a backseat to the greater cause which was victory. Many gladly participated in rationing food and materials to ensure that they did their part. The lesson for us is that adversity can help us strengthen this fine quality. Humility usually comes before prosperity. If you have to take a job that you feel is beneath your abilities, remember that humility enables us to do whatever is required to accomplish our goals. Humility opens doors to more opportunities and upbuilding friendships. Pride and egotism only sabotages you and your goals.

5). Innovation.

During the battles of World War two, American and European scientists along with engineers were behind the introduction of cutting edge weapons and technologies that ensured victory. Indeed, without radar, or the manhattan project, victory would have been unattainable. While I abhor war and all the devastation it brings, the lesson here is that being willing to try different strategies and resources could propel you to the growth you seek. Never get stuck in an obsolete way of doing things. What worked for you years ago in a particular situation, may not work now. The world is constantly evolving, and our ideas, talents, and behaviors must evolve too. Dont automatically disqualify an idea or opportunity just because its unknown or unpopular at the time. Think proactively and creatively, and the next great success story could be yours!

While there are many more things we can learn about the greatest generation, try to also learn and appreciate the modern day examples of people who have accomplished significant things despite intimidating odds. Survivors of 9/11, hurricane Katrina, the 2004 Tsunami, can also teach us much about the benefits of an indefatigable  spirit. Also, reading autobiographies of successful people can be very inspiring. Remember they are not gods. They are imperfect and had help along the way too. Keep remembering the lessons of the greatest generation, and you too will experience success and inspire others around you to do the same.


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