Introduction
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1 Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up. —ANNE LAMOTT 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 poured her energies into finishing the only work that mattered to her—a book about a boy wizard. However, the publishing world hadn’t caught up with her genius. Twelve publishers rejected her manuscript before a small London house picked up Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. And the rest is history. How did Rowling defy life’s calamities and go on to greatness, while others pack it in? The billionaire author credits tenacity as the reason she weathered the storm. “Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life,” she told a recent Harvard University graduating class at commencement. Like Rowling, we are all confronted with our own dark hours: equally traumatic, life-altering events. Some of us are unshakable in our belief that anything is possible if we find the courage to forge ahead. Others, however, can’t seem to escape the jaws of defeat. I N TRODU C TI ON 2 bright triumphs Hero or zero? Both courses are available to you. As industrialist Henry Ford, who had more than his share of dark clouds, once put it: “Think you can, think you can’t; either way, you’ll be right.” Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours affirms the conviction that you can. We challenge those who choose to cling to the dark side, and celebrate others like megaseller Rowling, who are able to face adversity—and transform near-defeat into a bright triumph. For the past several years, I have been scrutinizing dozens of dark hours—precarious situations, as well as individual lives, spiraling out of control—and how talented men and women refused to be trapped by them. Because personal stories are a lively and effective way to illustrate important points, I chose to examine a wide range of extraordinary individuals from history and contemporary life who overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles. From these portrayals of people under duress, you’ll discover the road maps for negotiating rugged terrain, guides for forging your own bright triumph. These inspiring and dramatic stories are for people in all walks of life—people who want to be ready when their own lives are on the line and when their actions, large or small, will shape the future of others. As you’ll see, our heroes and their vivid portraits are as different as chalk and cheese. Chancellor Joel Klein took on the monumental challenge of trying to overhaul New York City’s long-embattled public schools. Coach Bill Snyder descended on another Manhattan—Kansas—to turn around college football’s losingest team. Spunky Joanne Boyle not only survived a life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage, but elevated her California women’s basketball team from oblivion to national prominence. Similarly, world-renowned scientist and trailblazer Shirley Ann Jackson broke down racial barriers as the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from M.I.T. and to lead a major research university, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Former Hewlett-Packard chair and cancer patient Pattie Dunn beat the odds to restore her reputation— and her health. Legendary Marine Gen. Chesty Puller, surrounded by overwhelming hordes of Red Chinese regulars, escaped the deadly fog of war at Korea’s Chosin Reservoir, so his troops could fight another day. Sacagawea was the lone Indian, the lone teenager, the lone mother 3 introduction on the Lewis and Clark expedition, one of the most foreboding journeys ever undertaken. Equally adventurous, Gary Guller became the first one-armed man to scale Mount Everest, while also leading the largest cross-disability group to its base camp, at 17,500 feet. Retired Navy Commander Scott Waddle fought to remove the stain of the USS Greeneville, which accidentally sank the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru, killing nine people. Tarnished Time Warner ex-chairman Steve Case plotted his own miraculous comeback through an eclectic array of New Age businesses. Others, though less prominent on the world stage...


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