Lifelong Learning is Your Only Hope (Part 1)

roosevelt_safari_elephantYou don’t have to go to college or get a higher education in order to be a lifelong learner, especially not these days. In fact, it’s common knowledge that higher education, including spending years in dusty libraries appealing to out-of-touch professors, learning irrelevant information, is archaic for a society as fast-paced as ours. With access to the internet, you are capable of learning everything from do-it-yourself carpet cleaning to mobile app development. By continuing to learn, you will continue to develop yourself, while opening yourself up to newer and more exciting opportunities than if you kept yourself in a fixed-knowledge mindset.

Teddy Roosevelt didn’t have this luxury, but he made sure to highlight the fact that he was a voracious learner. He carried with him a fascination with zoology and history from an early childhood. He constantly sought advice from other intellectuals throughout his life, and he personally wrote an estimated 150,000 letters! What the actual fuck. In order to put that into perspective, think about this: If this number is correct, TR wrote an average of 7 letters for every day of his life. What the actual fuck?! I won’t even get into his political learnings, if that’s even a word, because he learned so much in other areas, and had such a rich working knowledge of the world we live in, it enabled him the situational awareness that allowed him to lead our nation into the twentieth century.

This guy was brilliant, and it’s intimidating even to write about him. The takeaway though should be to strive to continue learning throughout your entire life. It’s not important what you’re learning, as long as you continue to grow with your knowledge in some area that interests you. TR became such a well-rounded individual by hyper-focusing on objects of interest, and pivoting to more important facilities when the time presented itself.

Naturalist, zoologist, rancher, explorer, environmentalist, futurist, and historian, Roosevelt harbored an immense fascination with learning and helping human kind, and it propelled him into office, and eventually into the presidency. Teddy wrote his first long form essay at nine years old, titled “Natural History on Insects.” Even riddled with logical and spelling mistakes, you’ve got to give this kid some credit for trying.  TR did not hold back.

Teddy Roosevelt continued to learn throughout his life. He was an avid explorer, and has a river named after him in South America. He had a passion for taxonomy and created an immense collection of specimens from all over the world. Whatever you’re curious about, chase after it and learn as much as you can, you never know what information will help you out in the future, but there is no shortage of information during this time period in history.

Teddy Cries

So maybe he didn’t cry. But he definitely mourned after some of the crises that disrupted his life. Grieving is an emotion that is considered socially acceptable no matter who you are, under the right circumstances.

On the morning of February 14, 1884, Teddy was summoned to his home to find that his mother had succumbed to typhoid fever and would die shortly. 11 hours later his wife, Alice, was defeated by Bright’s disease, which had attacked her kidneys. This was two days after Alice had given birth to their first daughter, also named Alice.

Teddy was devastated. He had just lost the two most important women in his life, and as part of the grieving process, he ordered other officials to not mention his wife’s name and soon abandoned his political life for a life in the Dakotas as a rancher and Sheriff. For two years he lived there raising cattle and reading and writing history, but little was recorded about how hard he grieved. Speculation suggests he was tormented by the passing of the most important women in his life, and everyone grieves in their own way.

It appears that once he returned to New York to continue political life, he was whole again, but this could have been a repression tactic in order to continue to appear strong to opponents that would have rather him stayed in the Dakotas. Emotions are generally treated with caution in the public light, and are considered unnecessary for masculine leaders, but Roosevelt shows this is not the case. Unnecessarily showing emotion could be regarded as weakness, but grieving for true loss and euphoria for substantial accomplishments should never be kept under control, as they are the strongest emotions that other humans may empathize with, and have the effect of humanizing the wearer more than words spoken ever can. One of the signs of a great leader is that they are able to show emotion at acceptable times, and able to hide other emotions when necessary.

Masculine = Male and Feminine = Female

balance

 

It’s just not true. At the present time, it’s 2016, and we’ve come a long way towards disassembling socially constructed gender roles. Traditionally, it is true that the average male will exhibit mostly masculine traits, and the average female will exhibit mostly feminine traits. Are there outliers? Of course. But it is no longer socially unacceptable to portray traits that weren’t determined for you by your sex.

I don’t want to stray too far from the topic at hand. This blog is about presidents, and what they did and how they acted as great leaders of the free world. Currently, I’m working on a series about Teddy Roosevelt as the archetype of masculinity and arguing that the masculine traits he exhibited made him a great leader. Not based solely on the fact that we may see our first female president in about 5 days, I felt the need to address any female readers that have ambitious dreams of entrepreneurship, politics, or leadership roles.

Outward leadership is predominantly a masculine trait. Holding frame is considered masculine. Physical strength is a masculine trait. Shouldering your own burdens, and helping others with their burdens is traditionally masculine. These are all qualities that make strong leaders, and as women it is imperative to realize you must accept that and be prepared to play the game. In business dealings, taking a clueless feminine frame will not gain you any favors. Instead, it’s important to adapt a confident, masculine frame that knows how to handle problems as they’re thrown at you and portrays a dominant air. People will try to take advantage of you, and allowing yourself to be taken advantage of is markedly feminine.

This is not to say that you must abandon any form of femininity. Forbes has noted that a balance of masculine and feminine strengths in the workplace is better than one or the other. It can be wielded with great power and respect as well, but coupled with a strong frame of mind is devastating, especially when opposed by unsuspecting men, their frames will easily be disrupted by yours, and you’ll notice the conversation begin to work in your favor. Teddy Roosevelt also exhibited feminine traits openly in the form of grieving for his wife and mother.

Just because something is masculine does not mean that women can’t handle it. The world we live in is no longer binary, and depending on what your specific end goal is (entrepreneur, CEO, president, etc) it’s best to accept that sooner and to choose the traits that you believe are the best qualities of those who have historically performed well in the situation at hand.