Before I dive into the matter, It is no longer news that Nigeria has decided. For the first time in the history of Nigeria, and incumbent president lost to the opposition. Clearly, this marked the beginning of a new dawn in Nigeria. Nigerians decided that General Muhammadu Buhari is the needed change. This entire episode demonstrates that the difference between history’s boldest accomplishments, and its most staggering failures is often, simply, the diligent will to persevere.
I have noticed a striking similarity between the two leaders. Abraham Lincoln has a compelling story. Our fathers tell us his stories, our teachers drum these stories in our ears, our inspirational speakers sing these stories to us, we marvel at these stories. These stories of Mr Lincoln are told to inspire us, to get us to believe in the pursuit of our dreams and aspirations. Mr Lincoln was indeed a flying ninja great man. He is a great illustration of the power of perseverance, as he had terrible and persistent heartache and defeat throughout this life, yet made history and changed the course of America. In business, Lincoln failed twice, as a politician he lost eight elections and he suffered a nervous breakdown, bedridden for six months, as fears, doubts and uncertainties lived within his soul.
1831 he failed in business.
In 1832 he ran for state legislature – lost.
In 1838 he sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
In 1843 he ran for Congress – lost.
In 1854 he ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
In 1856 he sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.
In 1860 he was elected the 16th President of the United States.
As President, not only did Lincoln write and issue the Emancipation Proclamation that restricted slavery, but as the Civil War was ending in 1865, he initiated the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing U.S. slavery forever. But what Lincoln achieved could not have happened had it not been for his perseverance and his heartache and defeats, which he harnessed very effectively in ways that touch our lives today. He could have quit many times – but he didn’t and because he didn’t quit, he became one of the greatest presidents in the history of America.
Now back to our own story. General Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the polls is somewhat a reward for perseverance. He has been consistent in pursuing his political aspiration. He remained very consistent, resilient and courageous right from 2003 till date.
Beyond Abraham Lincoln, this is our story to tell our children, our colleagues, students, when teaching persistence. A deep story of a man who was once ridiculed and laughed at every time he lost an election; lost 3 times over a 12 year period, but refused to give up. He could have quit many times – but he did not and because he didn’t quit, he got victory at the March 28, 2015 polls, heralding a fresh season of leadership in Nigeria.
Perseverance is often the difference between those that succeed and those that do not. You can’t touch the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s too far away and the road is too long. You must travel the entire road, picking up valuable lessons along the way. The journey itself is as rewarding as the achievement of success, and the right journey will transform that success into a lasting legacy.
Perseverance is about picking yourself up every time you fall down. It’s about starting a new business with the attitude that failure is simply not an option. You must succeed. It’s about making the big presentation, acing it, not getting the account, and then trying even harder the next time around. It’s about making a plan and sticking to it. It’s about joining a group or organization, and then participating constantly. It’s about networking, and constantly trying to connect other people without regard to their referrals back to you. It’s about trying new things, failing, and then trying different new things. It’s about always bearing in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. Just as Richard Nixon once wrote, “A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits. ”