12 Important Life Lessons From My Favorite President

12 Important Life Lessons From My Favorite President

Theodore Roosevelt was one of my childhood heroes. He’s one of my adult heroes too. He’s long been my favorite president, not in small part due to his love for the great outdoors–and for his manner of plain speaking.

This post was originally published in July of 2016, but with Independence Day approaching, I’ve turned my thoughts to all things patriotic and my favorite president always appears on that list. So, I’ve decided to spruce it up and share it again.

Teddy Roosevelt seemed to me a “tell it like it is” kind of man, and fortunately for us, he told it like it was on many occasions. Like Teddy, I tend to be pretty straightforward when I have something to say. And like my favorite president, I have a tremendous love for my country and for the outdoors–and that includes America’s National Parks. I’ve visited many and have plans to visit many more, if not all of them, before my life is over.

Last weekend, I was fortunate enough to go and see the National Parks Adventure movie that’s playing at IMAX theaters around the country in honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. It’s worth seeing. I did not realize before I went that my husband did not know of President Roosevelt’s involvement in the National Park Service or of his conservationism. I hope we’ve fixed that now.

**Note: While this movie is no longer in theaters, it is still available for online streaming. You can find out more about that at this link. 

One little fun piece of trivia that I have always loved: The teddy bear was named after Theodore Roosevelt and the first teddy bear was presented to him as a gift by employees of the Glenwood Springs Hotel, in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Yep, my home state. 

Seeing the movie reminded me of how much I admire President Roosevelt and prompted me to dig into my files to review some of the things I’ve learned from him. His thoughts cover everything from attitude to business, to life and to our stewardships. It was a challenge to narrow this down to only 12, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you–so here are 12 important life lessons I learned from Theodore Roosevelt.

Believe you can and you’re halfway there.

Success–or failure–in life is all about our mindset. Once you learn to believe in yourself you’ll be unstoppable. Should be easy, right?

Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.

I know there are many who don’t recognize the blessing that the opportunity to work is. We have the chance in this life to work hard and to make a difference. What you do may not change the world, but when you’re working hard and doing what’s right, you’re changing someone’s world and like ripples on a pond, your influence will reach farther than you could ever imagine.

Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.

We have been blessed abundantly in our country. Not only is it beautiful, but our history is rich and colorful and worth cherishing. And we have a responsibility to take good care of this amazing country and to use its resources wisely–and yes, I do believe we were meant to use the resources we have here–wisely. And we are meant to teach our children to be wise stewards of our land, its beauty, its resources and its history.

It is hard to fail, But it is worse never to have tried to succeed.

There is no failure in life greater than the failure to try.

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.

Everyone has something to contribute. Everyone’s best efforts are worthwhile and are needed. What are you doing with what you have to make where you are better?

Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.

Dreaming is good. Always have dreams and lofty goals. And keep yourself grounded while you work on achieving those goals and making your dreams come true.

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.

I love this one. “For unto whom much is given, much is required” is a passage of scripture I learned in my youth. We will be accountable for what we have done with what we have been given. We need to show our gratitude for the blessings and opportunities we have by making the most of them with integrity.

Life is a great adventure…accept it in such a spirit.

All great adventures should be embarked upon with enthusiasm.

When you play, play hard; when you work, don’t play at all.

Does this really need any explanation?

The best thing you can do is the right thing; the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing; the worst thing you can do is nothing.

I’m pretty sure this needs no explanation either. Don’t be a bystander.

Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.

This could be the most impactful lesson I learned from my hero. When I started out in business many years ago, as a very naive businesswoman, I took this to heart. When someone called me for a photography job, I never turned them down. I found out what they needed, gave them a quote–and then I headed off to the library or the bookstore and learned what I needed to do to ace the job. And it worked.

Wildflowers should be enjoyed unplucked where they grow.

Stop and smell the flowers. Don’t take them home. Wildflowers are most beautiful in the wild.

Do you have a favorite president or other historical figure who has inspired you? Please share in the comments below.

And, by the way, you are welcome to share these quotes, by right-clicking and saving.

Photographs of Theodore Roosevelt courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress. All other photographs provided by Marie Leslie Photography.

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