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In Life, Our Past is the Key to Our Future

May 27, 2015 | Stories | 11 comments

Not many people know this, but Winston Churchill was an American citizen. Yes, you read that right. The two-time British Prime Minister was granted honorary U.S. citizenship on April 9, 1963, by President John F. Kennedy.

Hundreds of guests gathered in the White House Rose Garden that day, including three Roosevelts and Churchill’s son and grandson. They listened as the President spoke about a man who had led the English-speaking peoples to victory in World War II, won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and forged a new kind of leadership as he rewrote history.

The elder British statesman was 88 years old at the time, and he watched the ceremony on television with his wife from his London home. His health was poor by then, and he had sent a statement to be read on his behalf.

I often think about what it was like for him after he retired as Prime Minister in 1955. He had suffered a stroke, and after another one in 1956, he had trouble walking and talking. But his analytical mind was as sharp as ever.

My New Life Adventure

In April of this year, I retired from my role as co-CEO of Primerica. I’m a lot younger than Churchill, and thanks to the diligence of my wife, my health is strong. While I certainly will miss my colleagues at Primerica, I feel like shouting, “Anchors aweigh!” as I sail out into an exciting new adventure.

As a SUCCESS Speaker, I’ll have the opportunity to continue connecting with future leaders, building businesses and learning from every person I meet along the way. I’ve already lined up some incredible events and can’t wait to get out on the road and see your smiling faces. I’m honored to be involved with SUCCESS, an organization I’ve respected for years.

Churchill had a saying that I love: “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” I imagine he spent his later years proving that statement to himself more than anyone else. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” -Churchill Click To Tweet

I’m no elder statesman, but I do look back on my career with a sense of accomplishment and gratitude. I consider my life a success so far. My family is healthy and happy. My friends still call themselves my friends. A business I helped lead still offers financial freedom and opportunity to thousands of families across the country. And let me tell you, working with some talented folks to save that company and take it public was no mean feat.

Failure was our best friend for a while. It seemed that no matter what we did, failure chased us down and bit into us, like a dog in a fight.

So I turned time and again to the wisdom of Churchill, the bulldog, the man who never, never, never gave up. His words, his leadership and his ability to unite people during times of strife echoed through time to guide me and encourage me when I was ready to throw in the towel.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of Churchill’s death. At the end of May, I have the honor of attending the 32nd International Churchill Conference in Oxfordshire, England. Some of you might understand my excitement if I say to you that, for me, this is like the ultimate Comic Con. They’re hosting events at his birthplace, in locations of high-level summits during the war, and at his family home. The keynote speaker will be the Mayor of London.

I’m amazed at how Churchill’s legacy continues to unite us, unlike the divided world we live in today. In the statement he wrote accepting his U.S. citizenship, Churchill said, “Our past is the key to our future, which I firmly trust and believe will be no less fertile and glorious.” “Our past is the key to our future.” -Churchill Click To Tweet

After stepping down at Primerica, I could have retired. The company is in the strong hands of visionary new leadership. I could have chosen to spend my retirement days in the garden, tending my chickens and growing vegetables.

Instead, like Churchill, I choose to gaze ahead. I look forward to planting seeds of success in as many people as I can. I aim to connect, to change, and to charge up those I meet on this new leg of my voyage. I hope you’ll join me.

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