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In his darkest hour, Bob Dole walked on

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Even in grim circumstances, hope is what keeps leaders going.

Certainly, that was the case for Lt. Bob Dole, who took a hit during World War II and lost the use of his right arm. Paralyzed at first from the neck down, Dole had to focus considerable energy just on recovering the most basic functions.

Initially, he concentrated on trying to move his hands and feet. They defied his orders. It took weeks before he could feel a tingling. Gradually, he could wiggle his toes.

Each morning, Dole thought: “This might be the day good things start happening for me.” And even though some really bad things happened, including infections that nearly took his life, Dole overcame the temptation to brood.

Besides the inspirational thought each morning, here are some of the tactics Dole used to get back on his feet, attend law school and eventually serve in the U.S. Senate for 27 years and run for president.
  • A theme. Dole picked the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” sung by Frank Sinatra. It goes, in part: “When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don’t be afraid of the dark. Though your dreams be tossed and blown, walk on, walk on with hope in your heart, and you’ll never walk alone.”

  • Discipline. Dole created for himself a tough regimen of physical rehabilitation.

  • Toughness. Noting that he’s been called Mr. Grinch, Mr. Grumpy, Mr. Gridlock and other names, Dole points out that he was a Senate leader. “If you’re going to be a leader, you have to be tough at times,” he says. “I was the guy carrying the flag.”

  • Humor. Accepting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton just months after losing the election to him, Dole began to speak as though taking the oath of office. “I, Robert J. Dole, do solemnly swear,” he said, looking up in fake surprise as the guests laughed. “Sorry, wrong speech.”
— Adapted from A Soldier’s Story, Robert Dole, HarperCollins.

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