The Top 5 Leaders With Humble Beginnings


June 7, 2013CareersNo comments

shutterstock 70933486 The Top 5 Leaders With Humble BeginningsWhat is a Self Made Man?

A self made man, or woman for that matter refers to someone that rose above the limitations set in their lives. Individuals who, despite of their setbacks and upbringings these people followed their ideals and chased their dreams without fail.

People like these ended up changing the course of history and show us that through an intense desire for change, hard work and determination anything is possible. These individuals did just that, showed the world that one person can indeed make a difference in the world.

Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is known for her tremendous influence in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States of America. On the 1st of December 1955 Rosa Parks resisted the segregation rules on a Bus in Montgomery, Alabama. When ordered to get up from her seat in the colored section because the white section was full, Parks refused. Even though she was not the first person to stand up against the rules, she was the best candidate to appeal to this situation.

Rosa Parks became the symbol of resistance against racial segregation and ended up collaboration with historic icons and civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King and Edgar Nixon. Apart from receiving various medals of recognition Parks ended up being the first woman to lie in honor at the Capitol Rotunda after her death in 2005.

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln’s story is definitely not one of immediate success. No one would have thought that Lincoln would in the future be referred to as one of the greatest presidents in America after considering his lack of charisma, strange look, few connections and no formal education.

Born to farmer parents in a one-room cabin, Abraham Lincoln sure had humble beginnings and had to fight the odds from the start. Lincoln’s intense desire for knowledge made up for the fact he only had 18 months of formal education, according to sources he would devour every book he could get his hands on. His self-taught studies paid off, and at the young age of 22, Lincoln set off to Illinois to become a successful attorney. He was set on achieving his goal, even though he didn’t make it the first time around Lincoln ended up beating opposing candidate Stephen Douglas to presidency. From here on he became one of the greatest leaders known to the United States of America.

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass’ story is one of an individual rising from the rags of slavery to the riches of influence. During his slavery days Frederick’s Master’s wife started by teaching him bits of the alphabet, when she was reprimanded he continued to teach himself. At one point in time Douglass was traded and mastered by Edward Covey who was an evil individual that abused Douglass tremendously.

After standing up to his master Douglass took the risk of escaping from slavery where after he became an author and newspaper publisher among other things. Frederick Douglass’ resume grew by the day and he had titled such as Marshal of the District of Columbia, Minister-resident and Consul-general to the Republic of Haiti, President of the Freedman’s Savings Bank as well as being in charge of affairs from the Dominican Republic.

The highlight of his career is most definitely the 1888 Republican Convention where he became the first African-American to get the chance to stand for Presidency. His is a tremendous inspiring story of how starting small can turn into something really big.

Barack Obama

The most current example of a leader rising from humble beginnings is that of President Barack Obama. Born in Hawaii to a white mother and Kenyan father Obama’s father left for Kenya when he was only 2-years-old. After Obama’s mother remarried an Indonesian the family moved to Indonesia for a few years where after Obama returned to Hawaii. He graduated from Columbia University and started working as a community organizer, went to Harvard Law School, worked as a professor at the University of Chicago for 12 years where after he was elected as the Illinois State Senate in 1996.

The rest they say, is history after in 2004, Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States of America.

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Rolihlala Mandela is the example that one man can make a difference and change the course of history. Being a South-African anti-apartheid activist Mandela fought for the rights of the Africans but his left-wing controversial ways leaded to his 27-years imprisonment on Robben Island. This story is truly miraculous because Mandela’s influence did not stop even when he was behind bars. When released in 1990 Mandela and then President, F.W De Klerk negotiated a possible democratic election and abolition of the apartheid regime. The year of 1994 marked the first fully representative democratic election in South Africa, leading to Mandela’s appointment as the President of South Africa. This legend has received over 250 awards where the most remarkable is probably the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize shared with F.W. De Klerk.

To this day Nelson Mandela is a symbol of hope and freedom not only to South Africa, but the entire world.

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This is a guest post by Blake H., an occasional guest-blogger and full time social worker. If you’re interested in to finding out more about the profession, visit

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