In my sales team, we used to run ‘Fail Forward Friday’ each week during our team huddles. We used to share personal stories around failure and perseverance, most of which was me sharing my own stories. However, as of late, we have redesigned these to be focused around various public figures or individuals that we have learned about in history books, and how they have failed and persevered throughout their lives and careers.
It is apparent that they have had their own sets of struggles, have overcome obstacles, and thus triumphed and experienced great success. While researching these various individuals, I discovered that it’s not so much that a certain skill was developed, or new education was found, or they practiced a task over and over to achieve a goal. Rather, what I have found is that they each possess an unwillingness to tap out in comparison to their peers. Furthermore, what is separating these individuals from others, is they seem to dust themselves off rather quickly from what has occurred and move on to the next thing.
In a nutshell, the common thread between many great leaders of our time: a no quit attitude. They epitomize, and have proven, this idea of perseverance in the face of failure.
Abraham Lincoln is a great example of someone I recently studied who showed incredible perseverance during his time. While researching, I came to realize that he may be the greatest example of failure that we can learn from.
Here is his story:
1816 – His family is forced out of their home and Abraham has to get a job to support his family
1818 – His mother dies
1831 – He failed in business
1832 – He ran for state legislature and lost
1832 – He lost his job and then couldn’t get into law school
1833 – He borrowed money from a friend to build a business. That business eventually went bankrupt
1834 – He won state legislature seat
1835 – He was engaged to be married and his fiance died
1836 – He had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for 6 months
1838 – He sought to become the speaker of the state legislature and was defeated
1840 – He sought to become an elector of the state and was defeated
1843 – He ran for congress and lost
1846 – He ran for congress again and WON, went to Washington and did a great job!
1848 – He ran for re-election and lost
1849 – He was aiming to be a land officer for Illinois and was rejected
1854 – He ran for senate and lost
1856 – He ran for Vice President and got less than 100 votes – he lost
1858 – He ran for senate again and lost
1860 – Abraham Lincoln was elected the President of the United States
After being born into poverty, losing election after election, failing in business, going bankrupt, facing heartache, and so much more, he still did not quit, and because he did not quit, he went on to become one of the greatest United States presidents of all time!
I have often thought that I have had my skills and patience tested a few times; there were times when I thought I had hit rock bottom and would not be able to get up. Then I read this story of Abraham Lincoln and realized that my obstacles were only a sliver of what he went through. I was, and still am, in awe of his tenacity and perseverance to just keep going.
So what can we take away from this lesson? Having the confidence in yourself and the belief that you are destined to do what you are seeking out to do with keep you going and help you to push through when times get tough.
Listed below are some other individuals that we have discussed during our Friday team huddles. I encourage you to go read their stories and know that you will be inspired by their stories!
- Sara Blakely
- David Goggins
- J. K. Rowling
- Walt Disney
- Mary Kay Ash