Or do you already know?
He was born into nobility in an era when the word “empire” was used with pride, and then watched that empire be tested, and finally broken.
His childhood was often harsh and filled with longing and loneliness.
In truth, his parents largely ignored him, and from his formative years he felt closest to his nanny, the one adult who showed him consistent love and affection.
His father never really liked him; at least, that’s the way it seemed to him. And when his father died, at the age of 45, he was forever haunted by the sense that he, too, would die young, that his own time here was short.
He was a poor student at a time when poor students were punished severely, corporally, and from the very first, he was sent off to boarding schools far from his home.
Letters, in which the little boy begged his mother, whom he adored, to visit, or to allow him to come back home, even for a visit, went unanswered.
He was alone.
It took three attempts before he was able to pass the entrance examination to the Royal Military Academy. He applied for cavalry rather than infantry because the grade requirement was lower.
He loved battle and his courage under fire was never questioned, but his judgment as an officer frequently was.
Nothing in his early life gave any indication of greatness.
Still, in his own heart, he had always believed he was born to great purpose, that his destiny, a test of his mettle and leaderships, had been decided before his birth.
Winston Churchill was an unlikely hero.
Almost single-handedly at the outset of World War II, he faced down Hitler, and Churchill’s sense of destiny and resolve gave the British courage to face the terrible personal suffering that was to come to them.
His words, his voice, gave hope and strength when it was most needed. Listen to the eloquence, the confidence of purpose:
“Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, man will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.’ “
In your heart, perhaps unspoken even to those you are closest to, you know you are meant for a purpose.
Listen to that still, small voice.
It matters not whether the purpose seems grand or trivial in the eyes of others. It matters only that you know your purpose, that you’re ready to fulfill it, unblinking, unashamed, unafraid.
Because it is possible that your words, your voice, will give hope and courage when it is most needed today.
Whether that be to a nation and a world at war, as was Churchill’s, or to one individual person, the question is the same: Are you prepared?
Live to your purpose for this is why you were born!
*This post first appeared in November, 2011. It has always been one of the most read and shared, and I thought it appropriate to re-post today, on the anniversary of Churchill’s death.