Born in 1809, Abraham Lincoln is famously known for being the 16th President of the United States. He was a champion of equal rights, and he blazed a trail towards the freedom of slaves in America.
But Lincoln didn’t start out as a success story. He failed numerous times before attaining the highest office in the land. In 1832, when he was 23 years of age, Lincoln lost his job. At the same time, he also lost his bid for State Legislature.
Just 3 years later, at the age of 26, the love of his life, Ann Rutledge died. Three years later he lost his bid to become Speaker in the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1848, at the age of 39, Lincoln also failed in his bid to become Commissioner of the General Land Office in D.C.
Ten years after that, at the age of 49, he was defeated in his quest to become a U.S. Senator. Through all the personal, business and political failures, Lincoln didn’t give up. In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he drafted a bill to abolish slavery.
In 1861, at the age of 52, he secured the office of President of the United States and has since become one of the most famous failures to ever hold office in the United States. His face also appears on the U.S. five-dollar bill.
How did he do it?
Abraham Lincoln’s ability to keep going and not give up is very impressive and I admire the way he kept coming back time and time again. His ability to do this can be attributed to several key factors:
Strong Sense of Purpose: Lincoln had a clear and unwavering sense of purpose. He firmly believed in the principles of freedom, equality, and preserving the Union. This strong conviction fuelled his determination to persevere through challenges and opposition.
Resilience: Lincoln developed remarkable resilience through the hardships he faced early in life, such as the loss of his mother and the failure of his business ventures. These experiences taught him to bounce back from setbacks and continue moving forward.
Emotional Intelligence: Lincoln had a high level of emotional intelligence, which enabled him to manage his emotions effectively and remain composed under pressure. He was empathetic, understanding the emotions of others, and used this skill to build relationships and navigate through difficult political situations.
Optimism and Humour: Despite the weight of the presidency and the challenges of the Civil War, Lincoln maintained a sense of humour and often used it as a coping mechanism. His optimistic outlook helped him see opportunities even in the midst of adversity.
Problem-Solving Skills: Lincoln was an astute problem-solver. He approached issues with a logical and methodical mindset, seeking creative solutions to complex problems. This problem-solving ability allowed him to find ways forward even in the most difficult situations.
Adaptability: Lincoln was willing to adapt his strategies and policies when necessary. He recognized that the world was constantly changing, and he needed to be flexible to meet the demands of the times.
Surrounding Himself with Advisors: Lincoln understood the importance of surrounding himself with capable advisors and listening to different perspectives. He sought counsel from diverse voices, considering a range of opinions before making important decisions.
Deep Sense of Responsibility: Lincoln felt a deep sense of responsibility for the nation and its people. He believed that the weight of the nation’s future rested on his shoulders, which motivated him to persist in the face of adversity.
Tenacity: Perhaps most importantly, Lincoln was tenacious. He did not back down from challenges or abandon his principles when the going got tough. Instead, he remained steadfast in his commitment to his beliefs and goals.
Overall, Abraham Lincoln’s ability to keep going and not give up was a result of his unshakable purpose, resilience, emotional intelligence, optimism, problem-solving skills, adaptability, reliance on advisors, sense of responsibility, and tenacity.
These qualities made him an exceptional leader and allowed him to navigate through one of the most challenging periods in American history with unwavering determination.
The bottom line
The bottom line of success is the ability to get back up when you are knocked down. No one in history ever succeeded by giving up. This is the core of Mental Resilience. If you master this, you will dramatically increase your chance of success in whatever field you are in.
You can have all the ability in the world with wonderful support from many around you but if you don’t have the will to win, to get back up when you fall then you will fail.
Natural talent wasn’t enough
I remember a young basketball player who was incredibly gifted with remarkable natural talent. He had so much more talent and ability than I had when we met. He also had a laid-back attitude which made him look amazing as he showcased his talent. But this laid-back attitude actually harmed him in the long run.
As the years went by my relentless training and never say die attitude took me through to professional and international basketball level. Every time I failed, I got back up stronger and hungrier. I faced every challenge head on believing that one day I would make it.
During this same time, he coasted along relying entirely on his natural ability and expecting to succeed because of this. I watched over the next few years as I caught him up and eventually overtook him. In the end, he gave the sport up. He didn’t want to keep getting back up. He just gave up.
Thoughts for the week
- Think about Abraham Lincoln and the number of times he failed.
- Look back at your life and see how many times you have failed.
- Have you grown or learned anything from these failures?
- This week study the 9 key factors which helped Abraham Lincoln and see if you can learn something to help you in the future.