Our basset hound, Izzy, fell down a lot as a puppy. Not because something was wrong with her, but because her ears were so long that she would step on them, sending her into a sliding front flip. It wasn’t a big deal, after all she was already pretty close to the ground, but there was clearly no delay in her response to the fall. She would immediately resume her chase time after time, never discouraged.
I’m sure most reading this are familiar with the failures faced by Abraham Lincoln. He certainly had plenty of opportunities to be discouraged. Like after losing his job in 1832 or when he was defeated for the state legislature the same year. Like when his business venture failed in 1833 or when his significant other passed away in 1835. Like when he had a nervous breakdown in 1836 or when he lost his bid for Speaker of the House in 1838. Like when he lost the nomination for Congress in 1843 or when he lost the renomination for Congress in 1848. Like when he was rejected for land officer in 1849 or when he was defeated for the US Senate in 1854. Like when he lost the nomination for Vice President in 1856 or when he was defeated for the US Senate again in 1858.
Of course, all that failure culminated in being elected to the presidency in 1860, going on to become one of the most influential leaders in American history. The discouragement never got the best of him.
His persistence won out.
Why Should We Care?
Nothing predicts our future as well as our ability to handle discouragement. Those that are discouraged easily are going to have a rough go of it because the discouragement is coming. And, it keeps coming.
As leaders, there are few things we can do for those we lead as impactful as helping them grow their discouragement threshold. The mentality gained from this mindset literally impacts all aspects of our lives. We begin to see options where we once only saw obstacles. We see what could be rather than what can’t be.
A high enough threshold for discouragement can actually eliminate discouragement completely. As we become accustomed to facing it we begin to realize its only discouragement if we allow ourselves to label it as such. Or worse yet, we entrust our feelings of discouragement to the opinions of others.
Of course, this high threshold isn’t easy to develop. It’s a myriad of core beliefs and actions that come together to create persistence that isn’t dependent on events or circumstances. It’s dependent on only the present, dismissing the past the moment it happens.
After all, discouragement can only live in the past.
REAL TALK - Action Steps
While there is a number of things that could go into our perspective on discouragement, below are a few that are critical to our ability to persist consistently.
So, what does it take to discourage you? Work to push that line or eliminate it completely.
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I'm a teacher, coach, and parent seeking excellence while defining success on my own terms.