A Hasty Retreat

Retreating can be seen as a sign of weakness, but some of the greatest leaders in history have used it to great advantage.

On the battlefield, it can save hundreds of lives that will live to fight another day. In your own personal life, it can help you gather your thoughts and take a much-needed breath of fresh air.

1884 was a rough year for a young Theodore Roosevelt. At age 22, he lost his wife and his mother on the same day, under the same roof. That was in February. He then through himself into his work, working with the GOP in the election of 1884. He made a fool of himself, and decided to retire from politics.

Driven by despair and embarrassment, Roosevelt then spent most of his time over the next few years as a cowboy at his ranch in the Dakota territory. This life was a far-cry from his aristocratic life as a New York politician and member of a leading family.

It was at this ranch that Roosevelt developed many of the traits that he would become known for. As someone who already respected nature and wildlife, his respect went through the roof. This paved the way for the numerous national parks and forests he would establish as president.

He learned to love “The Strenuous Life,” a life of rewarding hardship. He never shied away from physical work and long hours in his study. This work ethic played a big role in his time in the White House, where it was said that he read a book a day during his presidency.

Although the ranch ended in complete financial ruin, blowing much of the inheritance from his late father (Roosevelt was never good with money), the lessons he learned as a cowboy in Dakota set the stage for what historians consider to be one of the 5 best presidencies this country has ever had.

Retreating in hard times — whether physical or metaphorical — can give you a different look at your situation and present lessons you would have otherwise missed out on.

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