Fall down seven times, get up eight. – Japanese Proverb
Abe’s been in the news quite a bit lately. Spielberg’s movie about his presidency will likely win all sorts of awards. And there have been countless articles about his management and leadership style.
I think it’s Lincoln tenacity that captivates me most; his willingness to keep on keepin’ on, even in the face of catastrophic failures: employment failures, business failures, election losses, the death of his sister, the death of his son. He fought depression; grappled with a divided nation; stood by an unpopular cause; and was witness to defeat after bloody defeat in battle.
I love knowing that the legendary Michael Jordon didn’t make his varsity basketball team in high school when he first tried out. He wasn’t good enough. Over the course of his career, he missed more 9000 shots; he lost more than 300 games.
And still he kept on going.
Edison’s tenacity is almost cliché: 10,000 failures on the road to success.
Thank god he kept on going.
This past week, my friend Lonnie Dupre, a renowned and indefatigable polar explorer, was spit off Denali (Mt. McKinley). Raising money for environmental advocacy, he was hoping to become the first ever to reach North America’s highest summit in the dark of winter by himself. Battling arctic darkness, ferocious winds, and temperatures so low that flesh freezes in an instant, he’s gone back there three times to pursue his goal.
And he’s kept on going.
Benjamin Bloom, a professor at the University of Chicago studied 120 exceptional artists, athletes and scholars looking for the common denominator of mastery and greatness. It turned out not to be intelligence or family background. It turned out that there was only one common characteristic: extraordinary drive, the willingness to keep on going even in the face of setback and insurmountable odds.
All of us will face loss and defeat along the way. All of us will fail.
No one escapes.
As I tell Ann when we’re running trails: You will fall and you will bleed.
It’s what happens next that matters most.