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Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours

Turning Adversity into Success

David Heenan

Publication Year: 2010

The dark hours: They occur when we find things spiraling out of control, when we feel most vulnerable and incapable of finding a solution. In a world often turned dark and cold, more and more people seem to be trapped in nightmarish circumstances. Americans, the world's optimists, when faced with an intractable situation, are taught to believe that through hardwork and will power they can "beat the odds." Yet, according to David Heenan, keeping one's nose to the grindstone may actually make things worse. Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours examines the lives of ten extraordinary people who overcame great adversity in their personal or professional lives by applying winning strategies that guided them out of the darkness of near-defeat and into the light of success. From New York City school chancellor Joel Klein taking on the monumental task of overhauling the city's embattled public school system to renowned scientist Shirley Ann Jackson breaking down barriers to become the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from MIT and head a major research university to retired U.S. Navy Commander Scott Waddle reshaping his life after the Ehime Maru disaster--in these inspiring stories Heenan identifies key strategies that helped each person stay upbeat in the swirling vortex of tough times. The final chapter outlines these practices in greater detail and explains how they can be used to create personal roadmaps to negotiate life's darkest hours--from which come its greatest successes, its brightest triumphs.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press


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pp. vii

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pp. ix-xii

The story seems as old as Methuselah. Following a string of losses, the directors of a company launch an intensive search for a corporate messiah. Eventually, they find one, a miracle worker, who, it seems at the time, can restore customer confidence, employee morale, and, most important, operating income. But, just months after the appointment ...

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About the Author

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pp. 14-15

David Heenan is a trustee of the Estate of James Campbell, one of the nation’s largest landowners, as well as a visiting professor at Georgetown University. Formerly, he served as chairman and CEO of Theo. H. Davies & Co, the North American holding company for the Hong Kong–based ...

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pp. 1-11

By every conventional measure, J. K. Rowling was mired in her darkest hour. Her exceptionally short-lived marriage had imploded. She had been sacked and was as poor as it was possible to be in modern Britain without being homeless. “By every usual standard,” she admits, “I was the biggest failure I knew.” Against all odds, the spunky single mother ...

Part I. Crusaders

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1 Joel Klein: Making the Grade

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pp. 15-30

Why would anyone take such a tough, thankless job? It’s been called the hottest kitchen in America. Yet those who oversee the country’s big city schools occupy one of the most critical positions in any community, with, in many cases, a larger budget, more employees, and more physical facilities than almost any other area business. Despite its importance, ...

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2 Shirley Ann Jackson: Aim for the Stars

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pp. 31-45

For America's universities, once the envy of the world, the honeymoon may be over. Survey after survey indicates that they are losing the public trust. Skyrocketing costs, lack of accountability, uneven quality, and poor graduation rates are just a few of the black marks leveled against the academy. More disturbing are reports that the competence ...

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3 Bill Snyder: Miracle in Manhattan

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pp. 47-65

When Newt Gingrich was elected Speaker of the House, one of his first tasks was to call legendary Penn State football coach Joe Paterno for advice on how to gracefully replace the old guard on the Hill with fresh blood. Gingrich was seeking Paterno’s advice because the crafty ...

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4 Joanne Boyle: Hoop Dreams

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pp. 67-84

The occasional tremors remind Joanne Boyle that being a head coach isn’t so tough. The fourth-year honcho of the University of California’s women’s basketball team is almost eight years removed from lifesaving brain surgery to correct an aneurysm. But tremors in her hand are ...

Part II. Combatants

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5 Gary Guller: Shattering Stereotypes

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pp. 87-103

Mount Everest has always loomed large in the minds of mountaineers. The jagged Himalayan peak, called Chomolungma (Goddess Mother of the Universe) by Tibetans, presents an incredible challenge for any experienced, able-bodied climber. Gary Guller had always dreamed of meeting that challenge. But, in 1986, he suffered a serious ...

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6 The Frozen Chosin

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pp. 105-122

Semper Fi. The few, the proud. From the Halls of Montezuma to the Shores of Tripoli. Once a Marine, always a Marine. The United States Marine Corps, with its 233-year tradition of excellence in combat, its hallowed rituals and its unbending code of honor, represents what is ...

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7 Sacagawea: The Legendary Bird Woman

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pp. 123-138

Called the Madonna of her race, Sacagawea was the lone Indian, the lone mother, the lone female, and the lone teenager on the Lewis and Clark expedition, one of the most foreboding journeys ever conceived. For a year-and-a-half, she endured many dark hours to help unlock the spirit of the New West. Because of her courage and that of her ...

Part III. Comeback Kids

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8 Scott Waddle: Lost at Sea

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pp. 141-160

On the fateful day—February 9, 2001—Navy Cmdr. Scott Waddle’s life changed forever. He gave the order to perform an emergency maneuver that inadvertently caused the 360-foot nuclear submarine USS Greeneville to collide with the 196-foot Ehime Maru, a Japanese fishing boat, off the coast of Hawai‘i, killing nine people on board the smaller vessel. The story ...

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9 Pattie Dunn: Boardroom Brouhaha

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pp. 161-180

In corporate America, boardroom battles can be a blood sport. In 2006, the directors of Hewlett-Packard, one of Silicon Valley’s original technology giants, were engaged in open warfare that dominated the business news. For years, HP’s board had been a leaky ship, as secret deliberations often ended up in the ...

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10 Steve Case: Second Act

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pp. 181-194

In the 1930s, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who knew about dark hours, said: “There are no second acts in American lives.” As with many of our examples, Steve Case is another exception. Less than a decade ago, he stood at the pinnacle of America’s media, entertainment, and communications world. In January 2000, the technology titan who gave ...

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11 Strategies for a Bright Triumph

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pp. 195-204

At a time when living in America resembles a roller-coaster ride on the way down, I hope our stories are instructive in offering suggestions on how we can overcome life’s darkest hours. Today, untold numbers are living Thoreau’s “lives of quiet desperation,” without the ...


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pp. 205-227


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pp. 229-233

E-ISBN-13: 9780824860554
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824834302

Publication Year: 2010