Happy Columbus Day!! As Americans, we honor the achievements of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus, but I’m not sure why. Having done some research on him, he wasn’t a very nice guy. His life was filled with flaws and failure. He was sued and jailed on numerous occasions, established the Atlantic slave trade, killed, beat or enslaved thousands of people himself, and wasn’t even that great of a sailor because he landed on an island that was over 8000 miles from where he thought he was.  Even with all this, we still honor him with a National Holiday every year. So maybe there is hope for all of us that we too can be great despite our own faults. Here are a few of Columbus’ better traits than we can emulate to help us sail to our own success:

Be Fearless – not only did he dare to go where others wouldn’t – opening up transatlantic travel with several trips that many said were too dangerous – he didn’t fear rejection, having been turned down numerous times by numerous people to fund his voyage until Queen Isabella final acquiesced. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Great Negotiator – He negotiated three ships, four voyages and thousands of dollars from Queen Isabella. He also negotiated with hundreds of sailors to crew his vessels, despite the danger to their own personal welfare.  Have a value proposition and be able to articulate it.

Brand Yourself – Not sure this is as much about branding yourself as having others promote your brand, but despite the fact that he never actually set foot on North America, (the closest he ever got was an island in the Bahamas), many to this day still believe that Columbus discovered America.  There is only one YOU and that YOU is perfect. Let everyone know.

Persevere – As mentioned, Columbus was turned down numerous times by numerous people, yet he was never deterred. He stayed the course and ultimate received what he wanted. If you truly know what you want – GO AFTER IT.

Goal planning – If nothing else, Columbus was a man of vision. He had a goal of opening up a trade route to India, even though his execution was a little off, it did eventually happen.  His goal led, and gave confidence to others, that they too could succeed.  Create a vision for yourself and set sail to obtain it.

Even though Columbus had his share of setbacks and character flaws, he had enough of what it takes to ultimately end up with his own day in October. I challenge you to own each day. Set a path and begin your voyage to success. It may take a few twists and turns along the way. But who knows – you may end up in a better place than the one you initially planned or even with a holiday in your name. Either way, take a chance to explore your own new world.


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