Monday, 10 June 2013

Lesson #2 in Persistence - Failure... Or Temporary Setbacks?


"Failure? I never encountered it. All I ever met were temporary setbacks" 
                                                                                           Abraham Lincoln

In my last post I highlighted the setbacks, persistence and resolve of Winston Churchill, another great leader who simply refused to give up was Abraham Lincoln. 

Born into poverty, Lincoln was faced with failure and defeat throughout his life. He lost 8 elections, twice failed in business and suffered a nervous breakdown.

He could have quit many times – but he didn’t and because he didn’t quit, he became one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States.

“The sense of obligation to continue is present in all of us. A duty to strive is the duty of us all. I felt a call to that duty” Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln was a champion and he never gave up. Here is a brief outline of Lincoln’s road to the White House:

1816 His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them
1818 His mother died 
1831 Failed in business 
1832 Ran for state legislature. Result? Lost 
1832 Lost his job. Applied to law school. Result? Application rejected 
1833 Borrowed money from a friend to begin a business. Within a year he was bankrupt 
(He spent the next 17 years paying off his debt) 
1834 Ran for state legislature. Result? Won! 
1835 Was engaged, but his fiancée died 
1836 Had a nervous breakdown and was in bed for 6 months 
1838 Sought to become speaker of the state legislature. Result? Lost 
1843 Ran for congress. Result? Lost 
1846 Ran for congress. Result? Won 
1848 Ran for congress to get re-elected. Result? Lost 
1849 Sought job of land officer in his home state. Result? Rejected 
1854 Ran for Senate of the United States. Result? Lost 
1856 Sought the Vice Presidential Nomination. Result? Lost (He got less than 100 votes) 
1858 Ran for US Senate again. Result? Lost 
1860 Elected president of the United States

"The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, “It’s a slip and not a fall” Abraham Lincoln

As well as demonstrating such resolve, resilience and persistence in the face of setbacks, Lincoln's leadership style is also worth studying. 

Jim Collins has coined the phrase "Level 5 leaders" which is well worth exploring... but we'll need to leave that for another day because I'm off to watch a film about someone who never gave up even though he may have felt that "the world was against him"

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