Colonel Sanders - A Journey of Hardship

By Shaun Cooper, Director & Senior Mentorship Coach, Lighthouse International

The fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken was founded by Harland 'Colonel' Sanders who was certainly no stranger to disappointment, rejection and adversity! Here is a little insight into to some of the challenges he faced, that forged his strong character, and ultimately led to his success…

His Hardships

  1. His father died at the age of 6.
  2. He left home at the age of 13 and dropped out of school because of the tumultuous relationship he had with his stepfather.
  3. At the age of 16 he falsified his date of birth and enlisted in the army only to be discharged months later.
  4. He got married at 18 and two years later his wife left him.
  5. He lost his son to an infection related to tonsillitis.
  6. He was fired from a job after brawling with a colleague.
  7. He ended his legal career after brawling with his own client in court.
  8. He was fired from selling insurance for insubordination.
  9. He started working for Michelin Tire Company and was made redundant after the company closed down their plant.
  10. In 1939 he acquired a motel which burnt down in a fire four months later. Colonel Sanders had it rebuilt as a motel with a 140-seat restaurant.
  11. He attempted to commit suicide and failed.

Finding Meaning & Purpose

As he sat writing his will, he contemplated all the hardships he had faced and began to realise what he really wanted to do with his life. As he reflected on what he could have accomplished over the years, he decided to take action. He then went and borrowed $87 to sell his fried chicken door to door. He travelled across the country, from restaurant to restaurant peddling his fried chicken technique, in an attempt to sell his franchise. During this period he often slept in his car. He pushed through a thousand refusals, and eventually persuaded Pete Harman in Utah to join him, and together they formed the first KFC site in 1952!

And The Rest Is History...

In October 1986 Pepsico Inc. acquired the Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise from RJRNabisco Inc. for $840 million!

"No hours, nor amount of labour, nor amount of money would deter me from giving the best that there was in me.”

- Colonel Sanders

Many legends like Colonel Sanders experience hardships, however, what makes them legendary is how they turn their challenges into opportunities. Although these experiences are not necessarily desirable, they do however teach us wonderful lessons, which ultimately determine our success. Through the process of human struggle, we 'dig deep' thereby strengthening our character and enriching our lives ... we thus have a greater ability to realise our human potential.

Check out more on Colonel Sanders' incredible story here...


    Does Colonel Sanders' story inspire you to overcome whatever hardships you may be facing right now?

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