Lincoln

Make Failure and Frustration Your Friends: A History Lesson

We all experience failure and the subsequent frustration. But how you handle those tormentors makes all the difference in your final outcomes. Oftentimes the peak of frustration comes right before a major breakthrough. That’s if you don’t quit. So don’t quit! Instead use the energy behind that frustration to break through to a new level of strategy. Make failure the friend that brought you to breakthrough’s doorstep! Let frustration be the energy that propels your leap across the chasm!

What follows are several success stories from history where failure was a frequent companion throughout these great people’s lives. Let’s all take some inspiration from their stories.


Abraham Lincoln
Failed in business in 1831. He was defeated for the legislature in 1832. He failed in business again in 1834. Hi beloved, Ann Rutledge, died in 1835. Had a nervous breakdown in ’1836. Was defeated in election in 1838. Defeated for Congress in 1843, 1846, and for a third time in 1848. Lincoln was defeated for Senate in 1855, and defeated for Vice President in 1856. In 1858 he was defeated for Senate. And finally in 1860 he was elected President!

Thomas Edison
Built 1800 prototypes until he created the first light bulb. He was one of America’s most prolific inventors, and he was granted 1,093 patents by the U.S. Patent office, including motion picture cameras, the phonograph, and the storage battery. But his inventions included such failures as a perpetual cigar, furniture made of cement, and a flying machine.

Alexander Graham Bell
Bell invented the telephone, and yet he found it difficult to secure a major backer. In the same year he patented the telephone, 1876, Bell tried to sell exclusive rights to the telephone to Western Union, the leading communications company at the time, for $100,000. William Orton, Western Union’s president, declined the offer, saying: “What use could this company make of an electrical toy?” The rest, as they say, is history.

Frank Herbert
Herbert is the author of Dune, the epic science-fiction tale. The book was rejected by 13 publishers with comments like “too slow,” “confusing and irritating,” “too long,” and “issues too clear-cut and old fashioned.” But Herbert was persistent. Dune went on to win the two highest awards in the science-fiction writing and has sold over 10 million copies.

Albert Einstein
Einstein was a poor elementary school student. He failed his first college entrance exam at Zurich Polytechnic. However he went on to develop one of the greatest theories of Physics, The Theory of Relativity. He won the Nobel Prize in Physics and today his name is synonymous with the word “Genius.” He will go down in history as one of the greatest scientists in the history of the world.

Henry Ford
Ford failed in business and went broke five times before he finally succeeded. In his first car, he forgot to put in a reverse gear. Then in 1957, he created bragged about the “car of the decade,” the Edsel. This car was infamous for its doors that wouldn’t close, a hood that wouldn’t open, paint that peeled, a horn that stuck, and a notoriety that made resale impossible. Despite this, Ford went on to much success.

Col. Harland Sanders
Yes, the Kentucky Fried Chicken Guy. Before his original recipe made it to the big time the Colonel traveled across the country trying to franchise his business. On the 1009th try he got his first sale. Today, KFC is a worldwide success story.

What’s your favorite success story that began with many failures? Where have you succeeded after many failures?

K. Stone is author of Life Learning Today, a blog about daily life improvements. A few of her most popular articles are How to Write a Book in 60 Days or Less, 5 Big Secrets “They” Don’t Want You to Know About Investing, Give Yourself a Raise Today!, and Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List.

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