Contagiously optimistic: Lance Stranahan | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 19, 2024

Sometimes, optimism might seem to be an abstract concept. Here at The Intelligent Optimist, we try to show what an optimistic lifestyle can contribute to your life. And with us, there are many others trying to make optimism visible. One of them is David Mezzapelle, who created the book series Contagious Optimism. In these books, hundreds of people share their stories of optimism, of finding hope during hardship, and about what optimism means to them. The Intelligent Optimist is sharing some of these stories. This is Lance’s story.
It was in January of 2010 when I experienced a metamorphosis. It was one of those transformative moments, where massive change occurs in an instant. It was also a moment when I realized that the inspiration and the blueprint for progress that I had been seeking most of my life, had been right in front me all along.
My father, Frank Stranahan, came into this world with many advantages. His father had founded the highly lucrative Champion Spark Plug Company. Frank grew up in a beautiful estate in Toledo, Ohio and was introduced to the game of golf at an early age.
Unlike many children from similar backgrounds that are often content to live in a frivolous manner, Frank was always an extremely driven and disciplined person. He threw himself into daylong practice sessions with the intent of becoming the greatest golfer in the world. By the time he was 15, Frank was winning a tremendous amount of amateur golf tournaments and establishing a name for himself in the game.

Frank Stranahan
Frank Stranahan in 1948 after winning the British Amateur golf tournament.

Frank was also known for pioneering the use of strength training for golf, he became known as the greatest amateur golfer of his era and turned pro in 1954. He retired from golf in the early 1960’s to focus on family and business endeavors.
Then a series of tragedies began to occur. His oldest son Frank Jr. perished from bone cancer at the age of 11. Ten years later, his beloved wife Ann also died of cancer at the age of 46. Less than a year after she passed, his other son James died from an accidental overdose of pills and alcohol, he was only 19 years old.
If the family deaths weren’t bad enough, a financial disaster was also unfolding.  After retiring from the golf tour, Frank went back to school and attended Harvard. After that he received his Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance. He then opened an investment firm in Manhattan, which did well for several years. But a stock market crash resulted in a catastrophic loss of most of his fortune.
However, through this entire period, the man I saw each day was always positive and optimistic. He was constantly enthusiastic towards all his endeavors. He remained focused and disciplined and never allowed himself to think negative.
I was unable to emulate the same qualities he had. I had a gloomier outlook and constantly wondered what other nightmares the universe had in store for me. A deep belief that nothing would turn out well would often cause me to quit any goal I was pursuing, whenever any obstacles or setbacks would arise.
My father’s upbeat attitude, discipline and dedication allowed him to continue to excel in many areas. He went on to run over 100 marathons, lectured on health and alternative medicine, and won numerous bodybuilding competitions well into his 70s.
At the age of 80, he began having neurological issues due to the aftermath of a car accident. He had to have full time care to help him with his daily living, which was a terrible fate for someone who had been so healthy, fit, and independent. But even this didn’t put a damper on his amazing attitude and enjoyment of life. In fact, despite his afflictions, he would still inspire many who saw him at the gym or the driving range.
In January of 2010, after years of reading motivational books, I was finally able to see what had been right in front of me all my life. As I watched him working out at the gym with an expression of pure joy and enthusiasm, I saw the human embodiment of every lesson the motivational books and CDs were trying to teach me. That’s when I realized that if he could be like that, regardless of his infirmity and every tragedy he had endured, then certainly I had no excuse to be anything less than joyful and optimistic myself.
Lance Stranahan is a co-author in the book series, CONTAGIOUS OPTIMISM, by Author David Mezzapelle (publisher: Viva Editions). His story will be published in the upcoming Volume II.
Photos via Shutterstock / Lance Stranahan

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