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The Difference Between Success and Failure

Posted May 22 2009 11:55pm

Abraham Lincoln Photo Credit
There are many succesful people in the world, and there are many people who are not. The main difference between the two is this: the successful ones pick themselves up after failure again and again until they finally reach success.

In other words, before attaining success, most people go through different stages of failure on the way to where they want to go, but those that eventually do attain success, learn something from the failure and then make the choice to pick themselves up and continue pursuing their goal, consistently persisting in achieving it.

Abraham Lincoln is a wonderful and inspiring example to understand this:

In 1832 he lost his job and was defeated for the state legislature, but was elected company captain of the Illinois militia in the Black Hawk War.

In 1833 he failed in business, but was appointed postmaster of New Salem, Illinois and was appointed deputy surveyor of Sangamon County.

In 1834 he was elected to Illinois state legislature.

In 1835 his sweetheart died.

In 1836 he had a nervous breakdown, but was re-elected to Illinois state legislature (running first in his district) and received his license to practice law in Illinois state courts.

In 1837 he led the Whig delegation in moving Illinois state capital from Vandalia to Springfield and he became law partner of John T. Stuart.

In 1838 he was defeated for Speaker, but was nominated for Illinois House Speaker by the Whig caucus and was re-elected to the Illinois House (running first in his district), and served as Whig floor leader.

Between 1839 and 1842 he was chosen presidential elector by the first Whig convention, he was admitted to practice law in the U.S. Circuit Court, he argued his first case before the Illinois Supreme Court, he was re-elected to the Illinois state legislature, he established a new law practice with Stephen T. Logan, and he was admitted to practice law in U.S. District Court.

In 1843 he was defeated for nomination for Congress.

In 1844 he established his own law practice with William H. Herndon as junior partner and in 1846 he was elected to Congress.

In 1848 he lost the renomination.

In 1849 he was rejected for land officer, but was admitted to practice law in the U.S. Supreme Court.

In 1854 he was defeated for the U.S. Senate, but was elected to the Illinois state legislature.

In 1856 he was defeated for the nomination for Vice President.

In 1858 he was again defeated for the U.S. Senate.

In 1860 he was elected President.

Here is the formula he appears to have followed consistently:

  1. Choose your goals
  2. Undertake steps to go in that direction
  3. Failure
  4. Pick yourself up
  5. Learn
  6. Persist (continue doing whatever you can right now that goes in the basic general direction of your goal)
  7. You may need to repeat the loop from number 3-6 several times
  8. Success.
And remember this: many of the successful people that you see or hear about may appear to have reached the success they have so easily, because we typically hear nothing about the many pitfalls and failures they surmounted in order to reach their goals. As you look at that part of their trajectory, you may find yourself much more motivated to continue on in your own.
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