Helen Keller - Success and Influence
Helen Keller (1880-1968)
An American (pictured right) left permanently blind and deaf at 18 months by illness, but became world famous as
an author and campaigner for the disabled.
The play and film, The Miracle Worker, was based on her life.
Why was she successful and influential?
Despite her disabilities, Keller (pictured right c1920) was always optimistic, seeking out life’s
opportunities for happiness.
“Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadow”, she said.
Any obstacle is there to be overcome, not grumble about, so that “every struggle
is a victory”.
She cheered herself up by:
2. Lifelong learning
Keller (pictured right in c1912) loved:
a) the pursuit of knowledge
She was naturally curious and excited by constantly improving knowledge that resulted in:
“The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next”, she said.
But she realized that learning requires lots of effort, obedience and self-discipline.
(particularly the Bible).
c) listening and learning
Her wonderful teacher from the age of six, Anne Sullivan (pictured right together in
1888), inspired and taught her by spelling words into her hands.
She was thrilled by the discovery of her first word, water.
Her touch became her vision and the way of detecting other people’s emotions.
3. Excitement from challenge
She believed that happiness comes from stretching yourself to the limit.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”, she said.
4. Doing good
She was extremely happy because she did something good and useful.
True happiness, she said, is not achieved through selfishness, but “fidelity to a worthy
Making a difference to other people’s lives was extremely important to her.
5. Christian beliefs
Her belief in God and loving others gave her great purpose, strength and comfort.
From childhood she was fascinated by God and spiritual matters like why a loving God could allow suffering.
6. Luck and love
She was brought up in Alabama with rich parents, who could afford a private tutor, Anne
Sullivan, for her.
They all loved her dearly, and her childhood was extremely happy.
7. Energy and spirit
Keller had enormous energy and determination to overcome her disabilities and help others.
She also had to cope with the death of her mother when she was 16.
She is pictured right with the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell in 1901.
She loved the countryside, the theatre and outdoor sports like sailing.
Key quote on objectives and
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.
Key quotes on positive
Keep your face to the sunshine, and you cannot see the shadow.
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
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Every struggle is a victory.
A happy life consists not in the absence but in the mastery of hardships.
Key quote on the learning
Do not think of today’s failures, but of the success that may come tomorrow.
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The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next.
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The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or
even touched. They must be felt with the heart.
When one door of happiness closes another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see
the one which has been opened for us.
Key quote on learning and
Tyranny cannot defeat the power of ideas.
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Tolerance is the first principle of community.
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I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were
great and noble.
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Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all – the apathy
of human beings.
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