I came across a story this morning. It takes places a few good years ago- in the early 1800’s to be exact. The place was rural Indiana. Now, I need you to understand that rural Indiana in the early 1800’s was a tough time. Especially if you’re a farmer in an unsettled, overgrown land. This was the reality for our main character.
A little boy grew up with his mom, dad, and sister in what today we would call, the middle of no-where. His family was very poor and he had to work the farm to help bring in money. When the boy turned nine, a terrible illness made it’s way to their isolated town and sadly, his mother became ill and passed away. The little boy was distraught... all that he was or hoped to be, he owed to his mother. And all he had left was his father and sister. Through financial and emotional hardships, the little boy’s father became angry and this anger turned into physical abuse. Life was rough for the little boy but little did he know that this was just the beginning of a life with obstacles.
The little boy grew into a tall and strong teen. He became interested in business but unfortunately failed at his first business venture. During this time, 10 years after the passing of his mother, his sister passes away during labor. The boy’s relationship with his father was not a good one. He was alone.
Straying even further from his farming origins, when the boy turned into a 23 year old man, he found himself interested in politics and ran for the state legislature. He lost. But that wasn’t the only thing he lost because later that year he was fired from his job. “Forget politics” he said, “I want to go to law school”. He didn’t get in.
The next year he decided he would start a new business and this time he wouldn’t do it alone. He borrowed money from a friend to help fund his business and got to work. By the end of the year, he was bankrupt.
Shaken but determined, he ran for the state legislature again. Dreams don’t work unless you do. This time, he won! Thing were looking better. He had accomplished his goal and his love life was blooming! He was engaged to be married to his sweetheart. Unfortunately, diseases were spread without cure and his fiance died of typhoid fever.
It was during this time that the little boy, who turned into a tall and strong young man, fell into total, debilitating depression. For 6 months, he didn’t leave his bed. His nervous breakdown had caused him to be bed ridden. “I am now the most miserable man living,” he said. “If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the Earth”. Melancholy hit him. “It seems to me,” he said, “I must die or be better”.
He rise rose above his depression and sought to become Speaker of the State legislature. He was defeated. He sought to become Elector. He was defeated.
He meets a woman, Mary, who he falls in love with. They marry and have 4 beautiful boys. Only one would live to maturity.
With his political aspirations still in mind, our hero runs for congress...and loses. The only way to truly fail is.... by giving up. He runs again 3 years later and this time, he wins. He moves to Washington. After 2 years, feeling confident in his abilities and position, he runs for re-election. He loses.
The next 10 years of his life sees the death of his son and 4 more lost elections. In one, seeing less than 100 votes.
At this point how would you feel? How would you view life? He could succumb again to his hardships; feel lost and unmotivated with all of the failures his life had seen. Or he could stand tall and keep going. What do you think he did?
2 years later, Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.
Imagine if he had quit when his first business failed. How different do you think our life would be, if he had talked himself out of the eight elections he lost? When we look back on his life we don’t see the failures. We see a man who kept going, we see courage.
There is no doubt you will see failure in your life. You may feel overwhelmed taking care of work, your health, your family... Whatever elections you are fighting to win right now, don’t give up, keep going... and the rest will be history.