Failure and Success

How the Most Spectacular Failures can Lead to the Most Incredible Accomplishments.

Failure.  The word is loaded with connotations.  With many executives, it’s a highly unpopular word.  After all, how many highly driven Type A people do you know that enjoy failing?

Yet, there is so much to be gained from failure.  Failure is the key to innovation and success.  Rarely can innovation or success be achieved without failing first.  So, what bridges the gap from failure to success?  


One word – Perseverance.  Webster Dictionary defines Perseverance as “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”  Perseverance requires courage, conviction and a steadfast belief that success will come.  It’s one of the key differentiators between good leaders to great leaders.

Very few people embody perseverance better than the man profiled in the historical timeline below:

“He failed in business in ’31. He was defeated for state legislator in ’32. He tried another business in ’33. It failed. His fiancée died in ’35. He had a nervous breakdown in ’36. In ’43 he ran for congress and was defeated. He tried again in ’48 and was defeated again. He tried running for the Senate in ’55. He lost. The next year he ran for Vice President and lost. In ’59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated.”

At this point, it looks like this man is destined to be a failure.  For so many, it would be easy to give up and go home.  Yet, his story continues….

“In 1860, the man who signed his name A. Lincoln, was elected the 16th President of the United States.”

Lincoln is revered as one of the greatest American Presidents, as he led our country though one of its darkest hours.  He was successful, because he took risks, had the courage to fight, and the will to persevere.  If Lincoln had succumbed to failure, we may be living in a very different nation today.

His story concludes:

“The difference between history’s boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere.”

Leadership Lessons from Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln holds a special place in my heart because his stepmother Sarah Bush Lincoln is my ancestor.  He’s also revered as a great leader.  It’s unsurprising, as people are thirsty for leadership in our current politically polarized environment.

What leadership lessons can you draw from Lincoln?  Consider that final quote again.  The thing that separates brilliant success from staggering failures is the will to keep going.  To Persevere.

When in doubt, model Lincoln’s perseverance:

  1. Take risks and be willing to fail
  2. Learn and share the lesson in the failure
  3. Have the courage and will to persevere

Celebrate failures.  After all, those failures get you one step closer to success.


What failure led to your greatest accomplishment?

2 thoughts on “Failure and Success

  1. Always enjoy reading your blog Gina. I have read Leadership Lessons from Lincoln. Your words speak true. Several people have used it for “extra credit” in my classes. Hope business is going well.

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