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03/26/2013 10:31 am ET Updated May 26, 2013

Day 26: 31 Days of Daily Inspiration From Brilliant Women

Daily Inspiration: Day 26 of 31 Days

"The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." -- Ayn Rand (author, 1905-82)

If life feels too challenging I remind myself that sometimes we need to be stimulated into action by adversity. Most social movements were the result of people finally getting fed up by being told what they couldn't do. Emmeline Pankhurst wanted to be allowed to vote. Rosa Parks wanted to sit at the front of the bus. Sometimes we need to be pushed to the edge before we'll take action.

As a teenager I was a passive young thing who achieved mediocre grades and went generally unnoticed at school. Then, one day, I had a history teacher who told me I'd never amount to anything as a historian. And, for the first time in my life, I was furious. I vowed I'd prove him wrong, I'd be the best and most brilliant student he'd ever seen. A year later I graduated with the second highest grade in England and won a place at Balliol College, Oxford. I was stimulated to greatness not by someone telling me I could do something, but by them telling me I couldn't. I learnt then that anger, when properly channelled, can be a very positive thing indeed.

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Inspiration From Brilliant Women

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