Did you know that one of the most famous, well-known and respected men in American history at the age of 50 had never experienced success? In fact, what he had experienced was way too many struggles and disappointments. Here are just a few of the struggles and disappointments he had faced: Being forced out of his home along with his family at age 7, losing his mother at age 9, at the age 22 he lost a job as a store clerk and while wanting to attend law school, he was unable to because his education wasn’t adequate, losing a youthful love to an untimely death and at age 28 being rejected upon asking his next love to marry him, failing the first two attempts for Congress and upon being elected on his third attempt, losing his re-election two years later, suffering a nervous breakdown, losing a young son, and making two unsuccessful attempts at earning a seat in the US Senate.
One can only say, “Wow”. Quite a laundry list of struggle would provoke one to lose hope and even doubt his own ability. Yes, this entire list of struggle and disappointment is equated with just one person. After all of this contention, at the age of 51, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th President of the United States, yet unfortunately, the heart-breaking moments didn’t stop there.
Why speak of such struggle? Why focus on all of the tough times? What can Lincoln’s life teach us? What lessons can each of us learn from his agonizing experiences?
Great leaders don’t just materialize as does great success, character and integrity appear out of thin air. As Lincoln’s life demonstrates, a life full of appreciation and something worth admiring occurs only after much struggle and disappointment.
True success, creating a life that achieves contentment and inspires those around you to soar as well is something that requires a person of inner strength which is fostered by persevering through challenging times. While there are many in our world who understand this, there are far too many who believe that success comes to those who put out their hand and ask politely for it, and upon being laughed at or ignored, stomp their foot and whine. But David Bly reminds us in his precise analogy, “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest where you haven’t planted.”
The truth of the matter is, whining and pleading will achieve nothing of value and possibly some pity. So instead of blaming our troubles for our inability to achieve the success we had dreamt about, why not be grateful for them and turn them into something beyond our initial imaginative desires?
Why not take it on the chin? So you were rejected, so the job you’ve desired for years isn’t hiring, so your car breaks down, so you are faced with another struggle you hadn’t planned on – look deep inside yourself, find your strength, tap into it and burn the midnight oil to make a seemingly unfortunate situation into something that will leave people inspired and with you realizing the amazing strengths you may not have known you had.
Think about this for a moment, if everything in our lives ran smoothly and not one obstacle ever presented itself, would we truly ever realize our true potential? Absolutely not!
Don’t get me wrong, times of struggle and disappointment are not something I wish for nor want, however it is in those moments when you are being tested that you can either choose to fail and remain where you are, or take it for the opportunity that it is and turn into gold.
Things worth having don’t come easy, so I leave you with a quote from the very man who faced the utmost struggle: The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just ~ Abraham Lincoln
About the Author
John R. Salkowski is a retired Police Officer after an impressive 15 year career who is now a Highly Sought-After Leadership and Motivational Speaker and Trainer. John can speak for crowds ranging from 20-20,000 sharing his unique leadership strategies in his signature presentation:
“Leadership in the Line of Duty”™
“Split-Second Decision Secrets Revealed that All Top-Performers and Self-Made Millionaires Know” ™
John regularly speaks for a variety of leaders (ranging from entry level to experienced executives) for corporations, business groups, associations, colleges, universities, youth groups and sports organizations. Pulling from his 15 years of real world, in-the-trenches (and even life and death) Law Enforcement situations, John now teaches leaders one of the most important key components of leadership (that is often overlooked):
“How to make Decisive Split-Second Leadership Decisions when the direction and success of your organization depends on it!”
John has received numerous distinguished awards for Bravery, Merit and Unit Citations. He has also received several employee recognition awards for serving as a leader within his community, including being featured in the Philadelphia Magazine as one of the area’s Top Business Leaders.
Any organization that wants to develop their people into becoming “Extraordinary Leaders” needs to hire John for a keynote and/or workshop training.
To request John to speak at your next event, please email his office at John@JohnSalkowski.com
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