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If that redneck could make it, why not you?

As a reporter, I once covered the mayor of a large metropolitan city who posed an especially difficult challenge to cable crews covering city council meetings because he could not get his finger out of his nose – even when the camera was right on him. His grammar was terrible and he sounded illiterate. Pure redneck.

Those of us in the press made jokes about the guy, but that nose-picking good old boy led that city into an era of greatness it had never experienced before or since. He was visionary and confident, a tremendous success despite his very obvious shortcomings. Some would think him an embarrassment, but he got things done. He led and people followed.

He must have heard people tell him that he was not polished enough for a career in politics, or that he didn’t have the finesse or savvy to engender the support he would need in order to drive the kinds of change his vision demanded. But, he just went about his business. He chose his greatness.

There are plenty of people who have acquired power and position by simply believing they could do it. Instead of talking themselves out of their dreams, they just figure out a way to make them real.

We have all heard compelling rags to riches stories. Remember Bill Clinton’s horrible and humble beginnings, growing up in a poor home with a physically abusive stepfather. Or Oprah Winfrey, who grew up impoverished and sexually abused. Is there any need to make a list like this? Because you may attach to stories of famous people who overcame adversity to become popular celebrities, but the greatest success stories are everyday occurrences, proven when some kid, fresh out of high school, makes his first million, or an immigrant who came to this country speaking no English overcame the language barrier and made a fortune. Are those stories about the smartest people in the world? The most educated people? The people who knew they were tapped by the Divine for special greatness? Or are those stories the inevitable byproduct of what happens when individuals are courageous enough to believe opportunity exists for everyone who dares to grab it?


Fawn Germer is the best-selling author of four books, including an Oprah pick. She speaks to corporations and organizations on courageous and creative leadership strategies taken from her interviews with the best-known leaders of our times.

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