Rhonda Abrams At Gannett News Services:

Listen to the news, and you’ll hear words that frighten every small businessperson. For the first time in my life, economists and analysts talk not just about recession, but use that most dreaded term “depression” and look to see how we pulled out of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

One of the most inspirational leaders of that time is one of my role models: First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Since this week marks the anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday, it’s an appropriate time to recall some of her traits and philosophies I find inspirational for entrepreneurs, small businesspeople, and the average Joe and Jane facing tougher financial times.

Eleanor found strength from her own pain to have compassion and commitment to those who were in even greater pain.

During her years as First Lady, 1933-1945, she was the country’s strongest champion of the downtrodden and voice for America’s Depression-era poor. She fought for civil rights, women’s rights, economic justice. She became the conscience of our society. After FDR died, she chaired the United Nations committee that drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. No other First Lady, before or since, made such a positive impact on America and the world.

She was also a prolific writer, and we have many leadership lessons for entrepreneurs in Eleanor’s own words:

    – “Surely, in the light of history, it is more intelligent to hope rather than to fear, to try rather than not to try. Nothing has ever been achieved by the person who says, ‘It can’t be done.’”

    – “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

    – “A stumbling block to the pessimist is a stepping stone to the optimist.”

    – “The things you refuse to meet today always come back at you later on, usually under circumstances which make the decision twice as difficult as it originally was.”

    – “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

    – “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.”

Photo by artfiles.

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