Self Help Lessons from The King’s Speech

Or 6 P's on the Road to Success

The King's Speech Movie Poster

My husband and I recently saw the movie The King’s Speech.  King George (Bertie) had a problem which must be one of the most irritating, maddening, and frustrating issues in the world to deal with.  He stuttered.

The King’s Speech (an outstanding movie that’s worthy of all the praise it and its stars have received – Colin Firth as King George gives one helluva performance) is the inspirational story of King George VI of Britain.  In spite of his royal blood, “Bertie” was just a man – flesh and blood, albeit royal.  He had doubts and insecurities like all of us – thanks to his speech problem and to a father who handled the whole matter poorly (as well as a brother who badly needed roughing up).  His sudden ascension to the throne corresponded with a time of great turmoil and trouble for Britain.  They needed a leader they could put their confidence in but their leader had to find it first.

King George had an all-important speech ahead of him.  He simply had to make his words reflect the strength and conviction that resided inside of him.

Fortunately, the king had been working with an unconventional speech therapist, Lionel (brilliantly played by Geoffrey Rush).  His wife Elizabeth  (played by the always sublime Helena Bonham Carter) had found this wonderful man, at a time her husband had all but given up. Lionel and Elizabeth formed a little team that refused to let him go under.

I was about to type, “Before this post turns into a movie review” when I realized it already had.  I might as well cap the review portion of this post off:  The King’s Speech is an utterly fascinating, hilarious, and breathtakingly beautiful movie.  The cast is sheer perfection and you really should see the movie, at least once.  It’s outstanding.

And that concludes the impromptu movie review – I guess we know now why I don’t do that for a living!

The King’s Speech actually holds – within its gorgeous scenes – a self help lesson for us, and as you’d expect, I’m all over it.  King George VI’s life played out on a long, winding road that essentially had 6 Mile Markers.  Had he stopped at any of the 6 and refused to continue his journey, who knows what would have happened.  Fortunately, he found the courage and determination to make it through each.

While we are each on decidedly different roads, with our own gorgeous scenery and individual challenges, but we have the same 6 Mile Markers, the Six P’s, if you will:

Mile Marker #1:  PROBLEM

Like King George, we all have problems. You may have a particular problem right now that looms in front of you like one of Ebenezer Scrooge’s ghostly visitors. The first step in overcoming a problem is to admit it exists.  King George acknowledged his problem.  He didn’t hide from it, blame others, or try to make excuses.

When we face problems in our own lives, we have to look them in the eye, take ownership of them, and set out to find the solution. Pointing fingers never accomplishes a darn thing. Even if King George had a specific person in his life who he felt caused his problem – what good would pointing the finger at him or her do?  What good would come from unleashing hate and revenge?  Wouldn’t the speech problem still exist?

Why waste that kind of energy?

If you have a particular problem in your life, stop concerning yourself with the Why’s, Who’s, and How Come’s. In the time some people spend chastising and belittling others for not “measuring up,” they could create a masterpiece in their own life.

Shouldn’t that be the plan?

Don’t find blame. Find answers.  Acknowledge your problem and accept it as that: YOUR problem.

Mile Marker #2: PRESSURE

Was the heat ever on poor King George?! He had the speech of his life coming up!  George had a lifetime of struggles with this cursed problem, and each time he’d squared off against the enemy (his speech problem), it had won.  It had the last laugh – each time.  How could he DARE hope this time would be any different?  His people, and the country he dearly loved, needed him now more than ever before and he was up to his crown in a pressure cooker.

Most of us know the feeling, whether a crown is or isn’t on top of our head.  Finances, relationships, careers, education, mortgages, health, challenges…. We all feel pressure.  Sometimes we put it on ourselves, and other times someone else has the honor.

This the intersection where most people jump off the road.

When she was around 3 or 4, our daughter Brittany was sick with one of those lovely wintertime viruses.  The kind that aren’t serious but make you feel seriously sick.  For this little live wire, being sick was a complete and utter inconvenience and seeing her so lifeless broke all of our hearts!  I remember the entire scene just like it was yesterday.  She had on a little yellow gown with Snow White (with her elves in tow) on the front.  I had made a comfortable place for her in the den with pillows behind her, orange juice nearby, and cartoons on the tv.  I’d given her her favorite coloring books and crayons but she didn’t even have the energy to color.

My dad, who knew one of his little angels was sick, came by on his lunch break.  He’d brought something special for her (and her sisters) but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was.  The gown I’m all over, but what the loving grandfather brought isn’t clear.  (Just like a female to remember the clothes!)  He sat on the floor beside her and said, “How do you feel baby?”

Brittany weakly said, “A little bit good and a whole bunch bad.”  I laughed.  My dad melted.
Anyway, Pressure feels a little good and a whole bunch bad.  On second thought, maybe it doesn’t feel good at all.  Which is why so many bail when it hits.

As I said earlier, who knows what would have happened if King George had been a quitter instead of a fighter.

Mile Marker #3:  PURPOSE

This one’s obvious. We have to have a purpose in life! If we have a problem that stands between us and our purpose – the answer’s pretty clear, the problem has to go.  King George’s purpose was great: He had to be the king his nation needed him to be.  In the face of war, his people needed someone they could count on, someone with conviction in his voice.  King George purposed in his heart to become that person.

He didn’t look at the circumstances and didn’t allow the problem or the pressure to keep him down.  He decided that his PURPOSE carried more weight than either his PROBLEM or his PRESSURE.

That’s exactly what we all must determine.  Purpose > Problem and Purpose > Pressure.   Not Purpose = Problem or Purpose = Pressure and darn sure not Purpose < Problem or Purpose < Pressure.

Every now and then I just like to prove to my math teachers that, contrary to popular belief, sometimes I actually did pay attention.

Mile Marker #4:  POWER

There are many sources of power – and there’s no way on earth (or off) I’d ever try to lessen any of them. Whether it’s the single greatest power on earth (from God, Himself),  the power that can change the world (Love), or the power that defies all reason (the power of family and friends) – power is all around us.  When we want to do great things or overcome great obstacles, we’d be smart to call upon all the power we can.  It’s always my first course of action!

King George had a very powerful team in Lionel and Elizabeth.  Without them, I’m not 100 percent sure the speech would have gone as well as it did.  However, for the purpose of this post, I want to address the power that, had it been absent, I AM 100 percent sure the speech would have failed…

The power from within. King George would not have… could not have…. achieved anything great solely on the power from Lionel or Elizabeth.  You and I can not… will not… achieve anything great solely on the power from those around us.

The kind of power it takes to move obstacles and jump over hurdles comes from deep inside. Sometimes you have to dig deep.  Sometimes, like King George, years and years of disappointment and pain build up a wall of resistance.  Our defenses are up, so to speak.  Renovations often have to take place inside before we can take the first step. King George had to dig deep – PAST pain, humiliation, disappointment, embarrassment, and shame.

What he found on the other side of all THAT was THIS – power to overcome and power to have the last laugh.

The power is inside all of us, we simply have to dig deep and find it.  Once we have acknowledged our problem, have gone toe to toe and nose to nose with pressure, determined our purpose, and gotten in touch with our power… it’s time to lay it all on the line!

Mile Marker #5: PLAN

That’s right, it’s time to plan.  You know the saying, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  Whatever it is you want to accomplish, don’t sit on the sidelines, waiting for it to happen.  Remember the little girl on the couch a few paragraphs ago?   Let’s just say she doesn’t wear Snow White gowns anymore.  She is still beautiful, hilarious, full of life though.  It still breaks my heart to see her sick and… yes, she is still my baby.  Always will be.  A few days ago we were talking about something in particular and I basically asked her if she was planning for it.  She laughed and said that she guessed she just thought it’d happen.

As someone who all too often operates the exact same way, I had to laugh too.

Whatever it is you want in life, or from life, requires a plan.  If you do nothing else today – I hope you’ll think about one particular goal and literally write out a plan to make it happen.  I want you to have that goal – unless, of course, your goal includes defeating my beloved St. Louis Cardinals – then I’d have to lovingly say I hope you come up short!

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  I don’t guess any of us can hear that often enough.

Mile Marker #6:  PERSEVERANCE

The first part of any journey can be the toughest – whether it’s a journey to lose weight, launch a business, overcome a destructive habit, or conquer stuttering in order to deliver the speech of a lifetime.  Setting out on the course takes a great deal of courage.  Standing up to pressure without batting an eye takes conviction.  Digging deep for power and purpose takes strength.  Making a plan takes boldness.

Wouldn’t it be a shame of epic proportions to achieve all of THAT just to throw it all away.  Whew, fortunately that never happens, right?  No one ever loses weight just to gain it back.  No one ever quits smoking just to pick the habit up all over again.  No one ever squanders a fortune they worked years for or throws away a good name they spent a lifetime earning…

Right??!?! Right?  Oh.  That’s right, it happens all the time.

A lot of people excel at planning, some are even wonderful at addressing problems and dreaming up solutions.  There are even some people who could light up a major city with the power they generate.  However, few… precious few… have what it takes to really make it to the finish line because they start strong and finish weak.  They have the boldness to begin but lack the conviction to follow through and the courage to finish.

Make no mistake about it, perseverance is the most important mile marker of the six.  Why?  Simple – she has the power to undo ALL of the others.   Years of overcoming obstacles, powering through pressure, silencing critics, and achieving your wildest dreams can all be wiped out by this one mile marker.   She can make it as though none of it ever happened – sending you right back to the start.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Think of it this way:  By perseverance, the snails reached the ark. Can’t you picture the diminutive couple as the sky began to turn dark?  As other larger, decidedly faster animals gracefully made their way to safety, it would have been easy for the speed-challenged snails to pucker up and kiss their tails goodbye.  They could’ve thought, “Well, life’s been sweet but this is where we check out.”

Not an option.

They set out – slow and steady – for their destination.  That journey must have gotten tedious fast!  Watching hundreds of legs sprint past couldn’t have been fun, but they kept on keeping on.  The snails knew the right time and the right place to quit.

How about you? Do you know the right time and the right place to quit?  Think about that for a second.

If you answered, “When you get to your goal… when you have success… that’s the right time and place to quit,”  you may be surprised to hear that you’re not just wrong, you’re dead wrong.

The right answer is NEVER. It is NEVER the right time or the right place to quit.  The minute you think you can sit back, put your feet up, and bask in your victory is the minute you begin sliding back to the start line.   Keep digging deep, keep finding the power inside, keep your purpose in front of you, and use pressure to work FOR you. Let it propel you further down the road than you’d be able to go on your own.

Look pressure in the eye and say, “Thanks! I needed that push.”  That ought to catch him off guard.

When you need answers, find them.  When you need a plan, make it.  When action is called for, take it. Most importantly, remember the right time and the right place to quit.  NEVER!

The poster at the top of the post can be found here. (Pssst, see the movie.)

Daily Quote: Quotes About Perseverance

Something that helps me when 99 percent of me wants to phone it in is three simple words:  Get it Done.  It has kept me focused when my mind wants to wander away from work at hand, it has kept me doing housework when I wanted to watch I Love Lucy, and it has kept me on the treadmill for 10 minutes longer than I thought I could reach.  When you feel yourself caving in to distractions, discouragements, or any other dangerous limitations, visualize the words GET IT DONE… and then do just that.

Here are a few other favorite quotes about perseverance:

Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts. – Coleman Cox

Keep going and the chances are that you will stumble on something, perhaps when you are least expecting it.  I never heard of anyone stumbling on something sitting down. – Charles Kettering

Character consists on what you do on the third and fourth tries. – James Michener

Most people give up just when they’re about to achieve success, they give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown. – H. Ross Perot

It’s always too early to quit. – Norman Vincent Peale

When the world says, “Give up,”
Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
- Author Unknown

Never despair, but if you do, WORK ON IN DESPAIR.  – Edmund Burke

More great quotes about Perseverance.

Perseverance and a Mouse in Red Shorts

Mickey Salutes America

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. – Walt Disney

Perseverance is one of my favorite words in the English language. I just love the spirit of this word.  Whenever I hear the word perseverance, I think of three things:

  1. I think of a snail.By perseverance, the snail reached the ark.“  The imagery is priceless.
  2. I think of a spelling trick. When teaching my daughters to spell perseverance, they’d get confused as to whether the word ended in -ence or -ance.  I told them to remember that perseverance always finds a way.
  3. Walt Disney. I don’t just love all things Walt Disney, I adore all things Walt Disney.  Fairy tales, talking animals, singing mermaids…. it’s all good in the world of Disney.

So what does Walt Disney have to do with the word perseverance?  He may as well have invented the word!  His name didn’t become a worldwide phenomenon overnight, Mr. Disney had his fair share of stumbling blocks, discouragement, and adversity.

Walt Disney (1901-1966) started the Laugh-O-Gram Corporation in Kansas City, Missouri in 1921, with only $15,000 from investors. Two years later, in 1923, he had to file for bankruptcy when his backers pulled out. Most people didn’t have a lot of confidence in Walt’s fairy tales. What were they thinking?

Fortunately for all of us, Walt Disney believed in himself as well as his dreams.

In July of 1923, Walt Disney left for Hollywood with all of the things that he owned in the world: one pair of pants, one coat, one white shirt, two sets of underwear, two pair of socks and some drawing materials he’d managed to hang onto. Oh, and he had one more thing in the back pocket of that one pair of pants – perseverance.

As unbelievable as it seems, when Walt Disney submitted his first drawings for publication, the editor told him he had no artistic talent! The world would be a lot less colorful today if Walt Disney had allowed those words to identify him. He believed in the man he saw in the mirror and the world he saw in his sketch pad… irregardless of what others thought!

All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. – Walt Disney


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Happy Veteran’s Day to all of the very special men and women who currently serve or have ever served in our Armed Forces.  Your sacrifices give us the freedom we often take for granted.  You deserve nothing but respect and gratitude for all you’ve given up.  So what’s it like being heroic?

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George Bernard Shaw and Others on Perseverance

If you’ve read Self Help Daily or Out of Bounds for very long, you know I’m a huge fan of older writings. I often publish articles from the distant past and never fail to marvel at their relevance. When I was rounding up my favorite motivational quotes about perseverance for this post, I wasn’t totally surprised to find that one of the best showed up to the meeting straight from 1893. The first quote you’ll find below is from an 1893 play, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, written by George Bernard Shaw.

People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.
– George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, 1893

There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream. – Author Unknown

Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. – Newt Gingrich

Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain. – Author Unknown

When the truly great people discover that they have been deceived by the signposts along the road of life, they just shift gears and keep going. – Nido Qubein

Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn. – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit. – Vince Lombardi

Don’t be afraid to give your best to what seemingly are small jobs. Every time you conquer one it makes you that much stronger. If you do the little jobs well, the big ones will tend to take care of themselves. – Dale Carnegie

More quotes about perseverance.

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