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“There are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.” –Clare Booth Luce

History provides us with numerous examples of seemingly hopeless situations that resulted in great triumphs.

Steve Jobs was fired from his own company; Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in prison; and Abraham Lincoln failed in business, had a nervous breakdown and was defeated in eight elections.

Upon graduation from college in 1900, Albert Einstein could not obtain a teaching position anywhere. In 1902, he finally got a full-time job in a Swiss patent office. It was not until 1909 that he was able to land a full-time teaching position. In 1921, he received the Nobel Prize for research that he had done in 1905.

It took Howard Schultz a year to convince a small coffee bean shop in Seattle named Starbucks to hire him. He left the company in 1982 because they refused to move forward with his idea of serving coffee in their coffee bean stores. They did not want to get in the restaurant business. Frustrated, Schultz quit and started his own coffee-bar business, called Il Giornale. It was successful, and a year later Schultz bought Starbucks for $3.8 million.

I find the less publicized stories equally inspiring.

Bethany Hamilton was just 13 years old when her left arm got bitten off by a shark while surfing. After a month of medical operations, she returned to the sport, learning how to surf with one arm and a customized board, and hasn’t stopped since.

Dawn Loggins, a former school janitor and straight-A student at her high school in North Carolina, was homeless her senior year after being abandoned by her drug-abusing parents. Not one to let her situation limit her, she applied to and was offered a full scholarship from Harvard.

Kyle Maynard, born with a condition known as congenital amputation, is the first quadruple amputee to successfully ascend Mount Kilimanjaro without any prosthetics. He made this happen by taping pieces of bicycle tire to the ends of his limbs to protect him as he scaled the mountain.

In 1925, Joshua Wooden lost his farm. He moved his family to the small Indiana town of Martinsville where he was able to get a job as a masseuse at the Home Lawn Sanitarium, a local health spa.

The Seven Point Creed and Two Sets of Three that Joshua Wooden taught his son John became the foundation that the greatest coach in the history of American sports used to positively influence millions of people all over the world.

The secret to turning a seemingly hopeless situation into a triumph is simple. Joshua Wooden put it this way:

Don’t whine, don’t complain, don’t make excuses. Just do the best you can. Nobody can do more than that.

Related: How to Handle Adversity: Don’t Whine, Don’t Complain, Don’t Make Excuses.

Photo by Mangostar/

Craig Impelman
As Coach Wooden’s grandson-in-law, Craig Impelman had the opportunity to learn Coach’s teachings firsthand and wrote about those lessons for his site, He is a motivational speaker and the author of Wooden’s Wisdom, a weekly “e-coaching module” that is distributed to companies nationally.