Leadership Lessons from American History

What can you learn from a 12-year-old?

A lot when that 12-year-old is Theodore Roosevelt.

When he was 12, Teddy was a bright kid with a failing body. His asthma attacks were often so severe his parents thought they would lose him. And then came the day that some bullies stole a hat his father had bought for him. Too embarrassed to admit he’d been too weak to stand up for himself, he told his father he’d lost the hat.

His father knew better. He told his son that while he had the mind, he didn’t have the body he needed to live what Teddy would come to call “the strenuous life.” It was a message Teddy took to heart. In a home gymnasium he began working on his body and learned to stand up for himself. By the time he was in college, he was on Harvard’s boxing and wrestling teams. Years later after moving to North Dakota to become a rancher, he became the local sheriff where he often had to face off against men who scared the daylights out of him. But he had a secret weapon.

The same confidence he had used as a 12-year-old in facing down bullies was now applied to situations that would have petrified anyone else.

Reflecting on his early days in the Dakotas, he said “There were all kinds of things I was afraid of at first, ranging from grizzly bears to mean horses and gun-fighters. But by acting as if I was not afraid, I gradually ceased to be afraid.”

In other words…

Fake it until you make it.

Gary McKechnie

From a life of transition and excitement, Gary McKechnie shares personal experiences and historical insights to show how individuals, businesses, and team members can pursue new possibilities. By helping audiences understand their contributions to business while also honoring an individual debt to themselves, their families, and their communities, his message defines the differences between work and career – and the importance of both. His skill as a master storyteller captivates audiences and turns their apprehension into adrenaline as they establish new goals to transition with confidence through their changing world.