Work for progress, not perfection

Written by Scott Uecker (Edited by NHU Editor)

When Hollywood decides to make a biopic of your life, you have definitely made it! After all, only the interesting and provocative are made into a Hollywood movie. The movie I am talking about is Lincoln, which provides an in-depth peek into President Abraham Lincoln’s life. No, this is not a review of the movie. Rather, this is to illustrate how you can find inspiration in President Lincoln’s life.

President Lincoln went through tremendous pain in his life. He went through losing his mother at a young age, losing siblings, losing a possible suitor. And then there is the most well known personal and national tribulation of all – he brought the United States through the bloodiest war in our history.

After everything that President Lincoln endured, it is no wonder he succumbed to depression. What is most remarkable about this fact is that he not only made it through life without modern medications, but rose to become arguably one of the greatest Presidents of the United States!

This is not a depressing story, but one of encouragement and hope. If President Lincoln can make it to the heights in life that he did, who is to say anyone that battles depression cannot be successful!

In fact, President Lincoln’s illness may have made him a more effective President. After enduring and rising above the tragedies of his life he gained the empathy and resolve needed to deal with the toughest of situations and individuals.

Without modern medications, Lincoln used humor, along with reading and writing poetry, and religion to cope with his depression. Lincoln believed a Christian could never fail because true success lay beyond this world in true enlightenment. By these means he found the hope to battle his illness and carry on. This does not mean Lincoln found the holy grail of dealing with depression, and perhaps you may not share his spiritual sentiment, but in the end, it was his mindset that allowed him to power through the roughest of times.

When I once asked how to find the right attitude to cope with life’s downturns, a wise person told me, “Work for progress, not perfection.”

Please humor my illustration with the following example. The stock market goes up and down with tumultuous highs and lows.  But, we are told, if we can weather the lows, eventually the stock market will inch its way back up. Similarly, we too will experience ups and downs in our lives, but if we weather the lows, and continue to try, we will always make progress over time.

If we only strive for perfection, we are more likely to see the downs in life as failures and simply give up. What we must recognize is that the downs in life are not what failure is made of.  Rather, it is when we give up that failure occurs. After all, we are only human, and we must expect and embrace imperfection.  For it is only through imperfection that we begin to recognize and hone our unique talents.

President Lincoln’s life was not perfect and he learned how to cope through his own unique means. You too are unique, and you too must find your own unique formula for coping. This may mean connecting with family, friends, your spirituality, a hobby, or whatever else gives your life meaning.

In the end, a positive outlook and an endless hope is what we all must strive for.  And we must remember to keep a foot firmly planted in the present, look to the future, and always, always relish the good times.

– –

“There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress, except those we ourselves erect.”

~ Ronald Reagan

“I will prepare and some day my chance will come.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

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