Thursday, February 17, 2011
At the age of seven, a young boy and his family were forced out of their home. The boy had to work to support his family. At the age of nine, his mother passed away. When he grew up, the young man was keen to go to law school, but had no education.
At 22, he lost his job as a store clerk. At 23, he ran for state legislature and lost. The same year, he went into business. It failed, leaving him with a debt that took him 17 years to repay. At 27, he had a nervous breakdown.
Two years later, he tried for the post of speaker in his state legislature. He lost. At 31, he was defeated in his attempt to become an elector. By 35, he had been defeated twice while running for Congress. Finally, he did manage to secure a brief term in Congress, but at 39 he lost his re-election bid.
At 41, his four-year-old son died. At 42, he was rejected as a prospective land officer. At 45, he ran for the Senate and lost. Two years later, he lost the vice presidential nomination. At 49, he ran for Senate and lost again.
At 51, he was elected the President of the United States of America.
The man in question: Abraham Lincoln."
Many of us are acquainted with this eloquent example of persistence and determination in achieving victory. We read it, stop for a moment and then sigh and say: "Wow! That's the stuff real leaders are made off."
And in saying this, it's all too easy for us to think about leaders like Lincoln almost as "mythological creatures", separate from the rest of humanity and empowered by some mysterious quality that smoothes their path towards inevitable success. This is the view of leadership that many people have traditionally taken: That leaders are marked out for leadership from early on in their lives, and that if you're not a leader, there's little that you can do to become one.
However, that's not the way we see it now. The modern view is that through patience, persistence and hard work, you can be a highly effective leader.