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Lessons from the Iron Lady

On April 8, 2013, Baroness Margaret Thatcher died at the age of 87. She was prime minister of Britain from May 1979 to November 1990 and was in the House of Lords from 1992 until her death last month. She made history by becoming Britain’s first–and so far only–female prime minister and completely changing the path England was going down. After all, she wasn’t nicknamed the Iron Lady and there isn’t an economic theory of named after her for nothing.

The Iron Lady

When she became prime minister in 1979, England wasn’t in a good position: an almost bankrupt government, inflation, industrial unrest, and more. She turned England around and put it on a better path by privatizing and deregulating government, tax cuts, etc.–which was later known to be Thatcherism.

But there was a bigger, underlying reason why England was in it’s position it was in when Margaret Thatcher was elected as prime minister. She stated that:

“I came to office with one deliberate intent: to change Britain from a dependent to a self-reliant society — from a give-it-to-me, to a do-it-yourself nation. A get-up-and-go, instead of a sit-back-and-wait-for-it Britain.”

There was a dependence on the government instead of relying on themselves. Instead of businesses and people deciding for themselves, they relied on the government. They waited on the government to do things instead of doing it themselves. The British society wasn’t self-reliant, but government-reliant.

The Iron Lady changed Britain for the better: people became more self-reliant than government-reliant, the government was reduced by deregulation and privatization, reducing taxes, and the list goes on. Yet it didn’t come easily for her. A lot of the time, there was opposition to Thatcher and what she was doing. Yet she was determined and didn’t turn away when times were tough. Thatcher had to deal with unions, government officials, and people who didn’t want the system changed or thought that her way wouldn’t work.

Thatcher won in most areas: privatization and deregulation were done, unions became less powerful, taxes were cut, etc. She didn’t compromise on her principles, ideas, or values because she knew that she had to turn Britain around. She kept going because she wanted to bring Britain from a government reliant nation to a more self-reliant one.

The Legacy and Lessons

When the Iron Lady resigned as prime minister in 1990 and when she died in April, she left a legacy of Thatcherism and spreading freedom. However she left a legacy of not only Thatcherism and the spread of freedom, but she showed how to achieve goals. She showed that it takes much more than it sometimes looks like at times to accomplish what she wanted–to turn Britain around for the better.

There are lessons we can learn from Margaret Thatcher through the way she lived and what she did. There are three lessons that stand out: 1) it takes more than ideas and vision to accomplish goals and dreams; 2) there will be opposition to accomplishing goals and dreams; and 3) people are never alone when it comes to ideas, values, visions, or anything else.

Lesson #1: It takes more than ideas and vision

Thatcher showed that it takes more than ideas to change anything. She had ideas about how to change Britain, but she wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if her ideas just stayed ideas. She had to implement her ideas in order for them to become reality. It took determination, perseverance, values, guts, and decisiveness to get there.

She also didn’t drop her ideas just because it took a lot of work or because of the opposition against her. She kept going because she wanted to change Britain and knew that she had to keep going. She wasn’t going to go back to where Britain was when she became prime minister in 1979. She even stated once that: “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” She knew that others didn’t want continue on the path she was taking, but she wasn’t going to let that stop her or slow her down. She knew that when the going got tough, the tough got going.

It isn’t just that way for politicians like Margaret Thatcher, but for everyone. Even if someone is trying to put a country on a different path or starting and running a business or trying to teach children, it takes more than the idea and vision that the person has to accomplish a goal, a dream, or anything else. It takes effort, time, and sometimes more because there’s opposition to what’s being done or more than what’s expected. Sometimes it takes guts, determination, perseverance, drive, and more to do it.

Lesson #2: There will be Opposition

The Iron Lady always had opposition to her plans. No matter what she did, if it was against the normality of growing regulation, deprivatizing–or government buying, owning, and running–industries, helping unions, etc., there was opposition against it. It came in forms of unions, government officials fighting against her in Parliament or inside her administration, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing of the Grand Hotel, and much more.

She even had opposition from her own party–the Conservative party–because some of them wanted to keep the status quo. Before Thatcher came along and at the beginning of her career as a member of parliament, the conservative and liberal parties kept along the same lines because they wanted to keep employment full, even though the Conservative party was for economic freedoms and private enterprise. Some people in her party still wanted to keep normality and fought to keep it, or turned around when it got too tough for them.

Just as Margaret Thatcher had opposition to what she was doing, so do people who try to do anything that other people don’t like. It doesn’t matter if what someone’s doing is part of normality or not, there will be others who won’t like what that person or group of people are doing. Thatcher and others didn’t like the current conditions of Britain, while others didn’t like what she was doing. People won’t like it if it’s out of the normal routine.

Lesson #3: People are Never Alone

Even though there was–and still is–lots of opposition to Thatcherism and how Thatcher did things, but there were people who helped her, who thought–and think–the same way she did. Her ideas were shared by people like Ronald Reagan and Friedrich Hayek, among others. She surrounded herself with and put into cabinet people who were like-minded in ideas, values, and beliefs to change Britain around.

Sometimes the Iron Lady seemed to be by herself–standing alone with opposition all around her–in Britain, but there was always people that stood by her. Just like she wasn’t alone in her ideas or values and neither is anybody else. No one is alone because there’s always someone else who thinks, believes, values, etc. exactly the same or along the same lines. It might not seem like it sometimes, but there’s always people who will stand, in one shape or form, with that person who’s trying to do something that a lot of people are against.

Just because it looks like they’re alone doesn’t mean they are actually alone.

It’s Our Turn Now

Margaret Thatcher might have died April 8th, but her legacy will continue to live on. What she did impacted not only Britain, but the world because other countries followed suit–either partially or wholeheartedly–after they saw it work in Britain. She made an impact on the course of history forever.

But what about you? Are you changing the course of history like Margaret Thatcher did by what you’re doing or are you waiting for “the perfect/right time” to start? Margaret Thatcher and her legacy is an example to us of how to change the world. However, it’s our turn now to change the world. It’s up to us.

So, what are you going to do about it? Are you going to wait on the sidelines? Or are you changing the world?


About Raise Expectations

R.E. is the founder, admin, and writer on Raise Expectations.

One comment on “Lessons from the Iron Lady

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