What I learned from The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt

Unlike most of the books on this site, what I took from The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt isn’t so much about learning, but much more about inspiration.

Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt led one of the most action-packed lives in history, filled with vigour, achievement, joy, suffering and overcoming.

This incredible biography of Roosevelt by Edmund Morris is heavily detailed and a work of intense scholarship but is as readable as a novel.

This is actually the first of a three part series by Morris on Roosevelt. (The second being Theodore Rex and the final being Colonel Roosevelt)

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt charts the period from birth to the Presidency.

What can we learn from The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt?

That life is more than long enough

Most people complain that life is too short. They can’t fit everything in. There’s never enough time etc.

Teddy’s life shows that all to be bullshit. He found time to be a prolific writer and author, ranch-owner, pioneer, politician, naturalist, policeman, soldier, war hero, conservationist and President of the United States.

He would have been in full agreement with Seneca’s treatise On the Shortness of Life.

Life isn’t too short.

60 or 70 years is a lot of time.

But how most of us waste the time given to us.

How much time is wasted on pointless web-surfing, mindless TV marathons and shopping?

4 hours a day in the evening watching Netflix adds up.

Say you do this 5 times a week.

That’s 20 hours a week.

80 hours a month.

Imagine using 80 hours a month to your side projects.

To working out.

To reading more.

To doing the things you’ve always wanted to do but put it off like writing a novel, learning an instrument, learning a language.

Don’t waste time. Allocate it consciously and wisely.

That we can always change our destiny

Roosevelt was born with a weak body. His mind and spirit were bright and strong.

His father recognised this and gave young Teddy early bodybuilding equipment.

Roosevelt rose to the challenge and built up his asthmatic, frail body into a strong, muscular physique.

He then boxed, swam, wrestled, rode, throwing himself into physically demanding activities, constantly testing and developing his masculinity.

Roosevelt, through hard work and determination, turned himself into the epitome of physical vigour.

The importance of social confidence

Roosevelt was famous for his loud voice, ramrod straight posture and strong handshake.

He could walk into every room and say hello to everyone with a smile and strong eye contact.

The importance of moral courage

Roosevelt wasn’t afraid to stick to his guns and have the strength of his convictions.

He would go against his Party when their views differed from his, even under pain of censure and humiliation.

This undoubtedly helped him with winning the trust of the American public. They knew he would do what he believed to be the right thing.

The importance of physical courage

When the Spanish-American arrived, Roosevelt was Secretary of the Navy and had no need to put himself in harm’s way.

Of course, instead, Roosevelt raised a regiment known as the Rough Riders and saw action in Cuba, posthumously winning the Congressional Medal of Honour, the highest military honour in the United States.

Further reading




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