Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours

Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours: Turning Adversity into Success

Foreword by Warren Bennis
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Bright Triumphs From Dark Hours
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6055-4
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
    (pp. IX-X)

    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, disillusionment sets in and the would-be savior is terminated unceremoniously.

    Sound far-fetched? In the teeth of the recent financial crisis, the American landscape is littered with such dark clouds. The corner office has become a revolving door, as boards and shareholders become ever more demanding....

    (pp. XI-XII)
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
    (pp. 1-12)

    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 upHarry...

    • 1 JOEL KLEIN: Making the Grade
      (pp. 15-30)

      Wanted: Superhero. Dynamic professional to lead big-city public school system. Must balance anemic budgets, repair crumbling classrooms, transform underperforming students and attract, and retain bright, but underpaid teachers. Must mollify demanding parents, aggressive unions, community activists—not to mention the Boss in City Hall. Be prepared for long hours, protracted legal and political battles and relatively low pay. Must show progress immediately or face termination. Previous education experience not necessary.

      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 bigcity schools occupy one of the most...

    • 2 SHIRLEY ANN JACKSON: Aim for the Stars
      (pp. 31-46)

      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 of recent graduates is declining. Derided as “compassless” and “underachieving,” universities face a cascade of dark clouds—from tighter budgets and declining enrollments to unruly faculty and Congressional oversight.

      Gone, too, is the Golden Age of university presidents. Today’s college chieftains work 24/7. Few last...

    • 3 BILL SNYDER: Miracle in Manhattan
      (pp. 47-66)

      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 coach was known for reinvigorating his team each year.

      In 1988, Kansas State University’s president, Jon Wefald, sought similar counsel. His football team had crashed, burned, and was rusting in pieces. Stan Parrish quit as the team’s coach four days into the season, unable to endure what eventually became the 0–11...

    • 4 JOANNE BOYLE: Hoop Dreams
      (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 a constant reminder that a game—or life—can turn in a second.

      November 28, 2001: That’s the day a near-death experience transformed an unassuming assistant coach at Duke to one of the nation’s rising stars in women’s basketball. Boyle, thirty-eight at the time, had finished her regular run on the Duke Golf Course. Perfectly fit...

    • 5 GARY GULLER: Shattering Stereotypes
      (pp. 87-104)

      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 climbing accident that took his left arm. Undaunted, seventeen years later, he became the first person with one arm to scale the 29,035-foot peak. In the process, he led the largest cross-disability group to reach Everest’s base camp, at 17,500 feet.

      Not allowing the tallest mountain in the world to stand...

      (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 arguably America’s most revered fighting force. From once-obscure places such as Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, Hue, and Fallujah, Leathernecks have proven their mettle time and time again.

      Inspired by the likes of Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller, long considered the greatest of them all, Marines would triumph even in retreat—“an attack in...

    • 7 SACAGAWEA: The Legendary Bird Woman
      (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 cohorts, many changes would come: the covered wagon, the stagecoach, railroads, and highways. Future generations of Americans would populate the plains, the high country, and the coast of what once was virgin territory. Against all odds, Sacagawea—along with Lewis...

    • 8 SCOTT WADDLE: Lost at Sea
      (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-footEhime Maru, a Japanese fishing boat, off the coast of Hawai‘i, killing nine people on board the smaller vessel. The story made international headlines, inflamed U.S.-Japan relations and ended the veteran’s 20-year naval career.

      Unlike many other leaders in the public eye who have denied or made excuses for their behavior, Waddle assumed responsibility for his actions. His resilience from this tragic collision...

    • 9 PATTIE DUNN: Boardroom Brouhaha
      (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 national press. Chairman Pattie Dunn, then fifty-three, would have none of it—launching what arguably became the most famous investigation since Watergate. The probe gained considerable notoriety when it was learned that the methods used included snooping into the private phone records of HP directors, employees, and journalists. Suddenly, “pretexting”...

    • 10 STEVE CASE: Second Act
      (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 millions of Americans their first taste of the Internet, had hammered out AOL’s $350 billion merger with Time Warner. But, just three years later, he acknowledged the megamerger had turned disastrous, suggesting that the best option was to “liberate the disparate businesses and let...

      (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 drive to shift gears. Yetanyonecan overcome tough times, not just the few who seem to soar effortlessly.

      No doubt, choreographing these changes takes courage—the courage to take risks. As Walt Disney once put it: “Courage is the main quality of leadership—it implies some risks.” Therefore, trumping a world turned dark and dangerous...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 205-228)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 229-233)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 234-234)