I think we have all heard the refrain “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” although there are two ways to take that statement! However, just how much failure is too much? When everything we try to do, every goal we aim at, every dream we have falls to ashes around our feet, just when do you quit?

I think that question depends on two things, first the reason why you are trying in the first place, and secondly, what lesson you are learning from each failure. If every failure we endure does not have something to teach us, then we are truly a failure.

Consider the history of Abraham Lincoln. He was President of the USA through some difficult times, he faced crisis after crisis, he had to accept that the union of the States could disintegrate and had to live with the knowledge that many of his planned reforms would never be achieved in his lifetime. But he never quit!

Perhaps the reasons can be found in the lessons he learned on the way to the Presidency – his personal history between 1831 and 1860, when he was elected President shows great consistency – in failure:

· 1831 – His business failed
· 1832 – he was defeated for a seat in the Legislature
· 1833 – His next business venture failed
· 1836 – He suffered a breakdown
· 1838 – He was once more defeated for the Legislature
· 1840 – He was defeated for Elector
· 1843 – He was defeated for Congress
· 1848 – He was defeated again for Congress
· 1855 – He was defeated for the Senate
· 1856 – He was defeated for Vice President
· 1858 – He was defeated for the Senate again
· 1860 – He was elected President

At any one of these set backs Lincoln could have quit; and who would have blamed him. For almost thirty years everything he ever tried failed for him and yet, he never quit.
It appears that every failure he faced only made him more determined to succeed.

It has been said that setbacks can either make us better or bitter, the choice is ours.

The only true failure is not learning from failure. We can learn much more from what does not succeed than we can from our greatest achievements. Victories are to be savoured and Laurels are there to rest on, Failures are to be learned from and to be built on.

The only true failure is the attitude of resignation, “Nothing I do ever works, so why bother trying.” And there can be a sense of relief in accepting failure. But if our setbacks only trigger a determination to do better we are on the pathway to success. It’s all in the attitude.

Success requires guts, courage, determination and endurance. How do you measure up?

When do you quit?

This article is taken from Trischel’s seminars on “Leadership and Management” contact us at info@trischel.com.au for more information.

Michele @ Trischel

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