#09 Thoughts on Leadership: Never See Failure as Failure

By Gino Blefari 

This week I was in Washington, D.C. to help celebrate the launch of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty. For those who have never been, Washington, D.C. is a beautiful city steeped in American history; you practically feel like a Founding Father walking the cobblestone streets. It’s also the place where you’ll find one extraordinary 132-room, 35-bathroom, six-story home, designed in the neoclassical style and painted white. (Once a real estate agent, always a real estate agent, right?) Inside this white house, some of the country’s—and world’s—greatest leaders lived and prospered, changing the course of history through their actions and words.

One of its most inspirational residents was arguably Abraham Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president. Most people know Lincoln for his incredible triumphs for civil rights and basic freedom but did you know that these accomplishments only arrived after years of failure and rejection? Observe:

1832 – Defeated for legislature

1838 – Defeated for Speaker

1843 – Defeated for nomination for Congress

1849 – Rejected for Land Officer

1854 – Defeated for Senate

1856 – Defeated for nomination for Vice President

1858 – Again defeated for Senate

1860 – Elected President

Of course, history paints Lincoln as the prototypical American success story: humble, stoic and accomplished. But could you imagine how the course of history would’ve changed if Lincoln hadn’t persevered through decades of personal defeat? As he once famously said, “My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”

So here’s the message: Sometimes facing defeat—losing a deal, making the wrong decision, struggling in your business, stumbling with a client—is ok. It is most often in these missteps that we find the determination to succeed, and it’s always because we believe in our cause, in our business, in our employees so much that we know if we just keep on moving forward, there’s no way we can possibly fail.

GINO BLEFARI is incoming CEO of HSF Affiliates LLC. Find him on Facebook and Twitter.

3 responses to #09 Thoughts on Leadership: Never See Failure as Failure

  1. “A recent study by Martin Seligman, PhD found that optimistic people/salespeople are more successful than pessimistic ones. Success requires persistence, the ability to not give up in the face of failure.

    “What does believing things will turn out right have to do with making them turn out right?” is the question posed.

    Everything it seems.

    “When we fail at something, we become helpless and depressed at least momentarily” Seligman Says” Optimists recover from their helplessness immediately. Very soon after failing, they pick themselves up, shrug and start trying again. For them defeat is a challenge, a mere setback on the road to inevitable victory. They see defeat as temporary and specific, not pervasive. Pessimists wallow in defeat, which they see as permanent and pervasive.”


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