Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Failure: The Breeding Ground for Success

My Fellow Americans,

Today, I want to talk to you about success and failure. To help me explain my points, please read the following items:

  1. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
  2. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
  3. You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
  4. You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
  5. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
  6. You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
  7. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
  8. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
  9. You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
  10. And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.
The items you just read are called The Ten Cannots. Often misattributed to Abraham Lincoln, they were written by William John Henry Boetcker (1873–1962), who was an American religious leader, influential public speaker, and outspoken political conservative (source: Wikipedia). I introduced you to Rev. Boetcker (photo: Google) back in November.

For me, it feels like the Obama administration has turned the "Cannots" into "Cans." I mean think about it. For Obama, you CAN keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn (#8). That's been his entire presidency thus far. Or how about -- you CAN help the poor by destroying the rich (#5). This is exactly what he's trying to do -- destroy the so-called "Fat Cats."

To get out of this crisis, we don't need the government to help us. We don't need them to destroy others along the way.

What we need the government to do is -- let us fail. We need them to let the system -- FAIL. Because, and trust me on this, it will correct itself. The markets will rebound if we let them take their natural course.

Let me ask you this: have we not all failed at least once in our lives? I know I have -- many times.

Have we not had moments where we are faced with a choice: give up or stand up? There have been times when I did both.

By not having a similar value system that Rev. Boetcker talks about in the "Cannots," how are we supposed to succeed? The answer, my friends, is we cannot. We WILL not succeed.

Without being forced to pick yourself up at your lowest point...without looking failure straight in the eye and saying, "I don't choose this" -- you will never achieve true success. You cannot be handed it. And you cannot take it from someone else.

I had a friend, let's call him Kyle, who was faced with a situation in his life where he looked failure straight in the eye. Kyle was unhappy with his career and quit four jobs in the span of a few years. He admits that he was stupid and naive. He was still stuck in "college mode" and wasn't prepared to deal with the real world. He was in a career that he hated and desperately wanted to quit.

The problem was now his debt was piling up -- mortgage, credit cards, and student loans. Kyle decided to try a different career where the money wasn't guaranteed and invested some of his savings into it. And he failed -- losing all the money he invested in it. He was virtually unemployed because he was not bringing in any money for roughly a year. Money was tight and he could have just given up.

But, he didn't. He found another job earlier this year and things could not be better for him. It's in a more stable sector, so he isn't threatened by the current economic climate. He told me that he thanks God everyday for these gifts.

I say gifts because, while Kyle is certainly grateful for his new job and the fact that money is coming in, he considers his failures a blessing. They taught him something. They helped him grow up faster (something he desperately needed as a young guy). Before, it was just football games for him. Now, he cares about more important things that truely have an impact on his life. And he couldn't be more thankful for that.

While he will never put himself in the situation he did before, he is proud to say he was able to come out of it. He has goals. He has dreams. And he has a plan to get there.

Look at Cannot #10: And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves. This sentence could not be more right. We need to do it ourselves. We need to fail, pick ourselves up, fail again, pick ourselves up, and strive for that success.

There are no guarantees that we will succeed. There is not always an equal playing field -- some start out in a better position in life than others. But, the beauty of this country is that we can all achieve the same goal in the end. Hard work and determination can trump anything.

It is not the job of the government to provide for us. It's our job to provide for us. Rev. Boetcker knew this and his "Cannots" are proof of that fact.

Failure truly is the breeding ground for our future success. But, it's up to us to determine when and how we get there.

- The Refounding Father

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