Finding Inspiration in Challenging Times

Cover image of "1776," by David McCulloughBy Shawn Conrad, CAE

I needed a bit of inspiration at the closing of 2020 and went to my old mainstay, David McCullough’s best-selling book and Pulitzer Prize winner, 1776. I find inspiration in many different ways, and this book reminded me that while 2020 was a year like no other for all of us, others in our country’s history have experienced terrible turmoil and triumphed.

The American War of Independence pitted an untrained, undisciplined army of colonists against the world’s most powerful army and naval force. The war with the British military lasted from 1775 to 1783 and gave us numerous inspirational leaders: Washington, Green, Knox, Hamilton, Adams, and Hancock among many others. Every time I read McCullough’s detailed retelling of the trials and tribulations that occurred during the pivotal year of 1776, I am reminded of the luck and good fortune the Continental Army experienced when all odds were against them and their fate was dire and uncertain.

While the stories of the Battle of Bunker Hill, the invasion of New York, Princeton, and other engagements are all inspiring, there was one constant message that summed up the entire campaign. In speeches to his troops, especially after the Battle of Trenton, General George Washington stressed the need for perseverance: for perseverance and spirit, for patience and perseverance, for unremitting courage and perseverance, and finally for unrelenting perseverance.

Our world has been impacted by so much during the past nine months, but there are positive signs ahead that give us hope for the remainder of 2021. A book about a war that occurred more than 200 years ago may not be what you need to inspire you for the months ahead, but for your own mental health, find a speaker, movie, song, article, or other book that gives you some inspiration.  If all else fails, remember our first president’s words about perseverance. They encourage me every time.

Shawn Conrad, CAE, is IPMI’s CEO.