Eleanor’s 7 Ways to a Career and Life Without Regret


She was one of the most admired people in the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, was an advocate for human rights. She was also a genius at living a life without regret.

Her wisdom on how to manage our career and life makes a lot of sense today when so many of us live in confusion and despair.

  1. Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.

If we want to have a real impact in the world, we need to focus on ideas. Many of us spend our time commenting on things that happen and people we know. But real progress – in our career, home life and in building a personal brand – comes with advocating and working for ideas, principles and values. Eleanor Roosevelt spent years at the UN working on a Declaration for Human Rights. This week at work, and at home, talk about ideas.

  1. No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

How we see ourselves is the only thing that counts. Low self-esteem comes when we give others the power to shape our identity. The world will see you, and treat you – the way you see and treat yourself. Let us give no person the permission to make us feel less of ourselves. When applying for a job, advancing a career or managing relationships with others – see yourself as someone who is confident, poised and capable. That’s the person you will be.

  1. Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

Eleanor Roosevelt was an optimist. She was committed to helping working women – and focused not on their plight, but on ways in which they could be empowered to help themselves. The world has enough naysayers. It has enough people who know how to be critical. We need more people to light candles. Become one and you will stand out from the crowd in an instant.

  1. Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyway.

We all agonize over decisions we must make. But at some point, we must decide. Know that regardless of what you do, someone will disagree. But know too that it is your life, not theirs. Never mind what others think. Just follow your heart.

  1. Friendship with one’s self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else.

My best friend looks at me in the mirror every morning. Many of us seek the comfort and approval of others. But it’s the person in the mirror we must please. Only then, can we share ourselves with others.

  1. If life were predictable it would cease to be life.

So many of us fight every annoyance and obstacle each day. Yet, what we perceive to be annoyances are in fact part of the complexities of life. Slow traffic, bad weather, people who talk too much, equipment that doesn’t work properly – all part of what makes up the world. Expect the unexpected. Accept all things. If we just stop fighting what is, we can enjoy all of life – not just when things are going perfectly.

  1. You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give.

Whenever things get rough or don’t go my way, I remind myself that all I can do is my best. But Eleanor Roosevelt added something else – the self-imposed trait of courage. The courage to face whatever comes. If we allow ourselves to succumb to fear, worry and avoidance – problems will appear much larger than they deserve to be. But if we tackle life’s challenges head on, with courage and resolve – they will melt away.

Eleanor Roosevelt had an unhappy childhood. Both of her parents and a brother died when she was young. As an adult, she had to manage a difficult marriage. Her husband, the President, had an affair – she had to cope with a domineering and controlling mother-in-law who often interfered in the marriage – and later, her husband’s partial paralysis from polio had its own unique challenges.

Nothing was easy for Eleanor. But she greeted life’s curve balls with enormous strength, acceptance and a determination to make her own way.

This week, make the commitment to run your career and life without regret.

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