I’ve Always Liked the Crazies…

by robinana on September 27, 2009

portrait of an achiever


Failed in Business – Bankruptcy, 1831

Defeated for Legislature, 1832

Sweetheart/Fiancée Dies, 1835

Nervous Breakdown, 1836

Defeated in Election, 1836

Defeated for U.S. Congress, 1843

Defeated again for U.S. Congress 1846

Defeated once again for U.S. Congress, 1848

Defeated for U.S. Senate, 1855

Defeated for U.S Vice President, 1856

Defeated again for U.S. Senate, 1858

ABRAHAM LINCOLN Elected President of the U.S.A., 1860

“You can not fail…unless you quit”
-Abraham Lincoln

Truly, I mean no disrespect by the title of this page. But, it is certainly true…I’ve always been in awe of what determined people who had a difficult time being “normal” could accomplish. More often than not, their accomplishments were astounding.

If you need some inspiration to get your business rolling, or are experiencing the “poor me” syndrome, these people had a bit more to deal with than that.

Most on my list have suffered with severe bipolar disorder or suicidal tendencies, and yet the gift of leadership or creativity could not be stifled. I’ve learned much about success from the following examples:

Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States suffered from severe and debilitating and on occasion suicidal depressions, as recorded by Carl Sandburg in his comprehensive six-volume biographical analysis of his life. “A tendency to melancholy” Lincoln once wrote in a letter to a friend, “…let it be observed, is a misfortune, not a fault.” The most amazing part of his story was the sheer determination with which he willed himself to overcome his serious affliction and still achieve all he was able to achieve for our young and troubled nation, at war with itself. Experiencing failure and defeat for years of running for office and losing, and then dealing with the death of his sweetheart, Lincoln rose from the ashes and after a complete mental breakdown, became the President of the United States.

Winston Churchill The quote “Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation.” was written by Anthony Storr about Churchill’s bipolar mood disorder, which he battled throughout his life. His accomplishments were astounding, and yet he fought a private battle. His sons openly spoke in a biography about his times of increased energy and creativity which soon turned into a dark depression and melancholy state. Refusing to let his disorder stop him, Churchill is known for his iron will, courage, and fearless behavior during impossible circumstances.

Ludwig van Beethoven wrote  “…my misfortune pains me doubly, in as much as it leads to my being misjudged. For me there can be no relaxation in human society; no refined conversations, no mutual confidences. I must live quite alone and may creep into society only as often as sheer necessity demands; I must live like an outcast. If I appear in company I am overcome by a burning anxiety, a fear that I am running the risk of letting people notice my condition…such experiences almost made me despair, and I was on the point of putting an end to my life – the only thing that held me back was my art. For indeed it seemed to me impossible to leave this world before I had produced all the works that I felt the urge to compose, and thus I have dragged on this miserable existence…”
– from Emily Anderson, The Letters of Beethoven, Vol. 3.

So one of the greatest composers of all time dealt daily with the harsh reality of a mental illness that kept him a complete recluse. Still he went on, because the desire to succeed was greater than the desire to fail.

I can’t help but be immensely inspired by these people. There are more, but Abraham Lincoln will always be my favorite. I always want to know, what could a man possibly be thinking who experiences one defeat after another? What kind of determination is in a person who makes the internal decision that “failure is not an option?” Let this be a lesson to us all.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Collier Ward September 28, 2009 at 4:13 AM

Along with the "never give up" speech, one of Winston Churchill's best lines about persistence is, “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”
(I wonder if he was referring to Mr. Lincoln.)


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