An image if former President Abraham Lincoln

A Quick Reflection on Grit

Change managers today must endure a lot of trust building, compromising, long hours, goal setting and more. We put our hearts into making a demonstrable change that will grow the business and potentially change the careers of many. And, such are the trials and travails of making complex change. Such is grit.

If this describes you, consider one large, looming historical figure for perspective – Abraham Lincoln. By one standard, he could be measured by the large number of failures and losses in his life. However, he instead is held up as an example of great leadership. Here is a quick rundown of a great former President and the ups and downs he experienced in his personal and professional life:

  • 1809 Born February 12
  • 1816 Abraham Lincoln’s family was forced out of their home and he had to work to support his family.
  • 1828 His sister died
  • 1831 A business venture failed
  • 1832 He ran for the State Legislature. He lost. In the same year, he also lost his job. He decided he wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
  • 1833 He borrowed money from a friend to start a business. By the end of the year, he was bankrupt.
  • 1834 He ran for the State Legislature again. This time he won.
  • 1835 The year was looking better as he was engaged to be married. Unfortunately, his fiancee died and he was grief stricken.
  • 1836 This was the year he had a total nervous breakdown and was bedridden for 6 months. In the same year, he sought to become Speaker of the State Legislature. He was defeated.
  • 1840 He sought to become Elector. He was defeated.
  • 1842 Marries Mary Todd. They have 4 boys but only one would live to maturity.
  • 1843 He ran for Congress. He lost.
  • 1846 He ran for Congress again. He won and moved to Washington.
  • 1848 He ran for re-election to Congress. He lost.
  • 1849 He sought the job of Land Officer in his home state. He didn’t get the job.
  • 1850 His son, Edward, dies.
  • 1854 He ran for the Senate of the United states. He lost.
  • 1856 He sought the Vice Presidential nomination at a national convention. He got less than 100 votes.
  • 1858 He ran for the Senate again. He lost.
  • And, in…
  • 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States.

Persistence. Determination. Resolve. Grit. A willingness to face defeat after defeat after defeat… if it meant that one day he could achieve his goal.

And so, if you’re looking to step into a change management initiative, remember that it is not for the faint of heart, but know you will find a bigger challenge, a richer experience. However, despite his challenges, failures and roadblocks, President Lincoln became one of our most beloved presidents because he never, ever gave up. And, he kept fighting for what he believed was right.

I believe that each of us has that level of grit and resolve within. And I see it every day in folks just like you and me. People who are ready to break through…who are breaking through. And when we are determined, we rise to any occasion. What do you think you could you achieve in your career if you could access that same depth of resolve as Abraham Lincoln?

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