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Kevin Holten: The power of perseverance

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Life is no easy road. It’s full of bumps and curves. But the good Lord has given you gifts and a mission and one magical ingredient to succeed. It’s an enduring formula that works like a hot knife in butter and it’s called perseverance.

There are countless people, many whom you know, whose success came from using that magic formula, and here are three examples.

Walt Disney was an animator, writer and film producer who holds the record for most Academy Awards earned by an individual, having won 22 Oscars. He was also presented with two Golden Globe Special Achievement Awards and an Emmy Award, and several of his films are included in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress. Plus he is co-founder of Disneyland.

Yet early on he was fired by a newspaper editor because "He lacked imagination and had no good ideas." He went bankrupt several times before he built Disneyland, and his proposed park was rejected by the city of Anaheim on the grounds that it would only attract riffraff.

Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln might have been our greatest president ever. And yet, he went to war as a captain and he returned a private. Afterward, he was a failure as a businessman and as a lawyer in Springfield, too impractical and temperamental to be a success.

He turned to politics and was defeated in his first try for the legislature, again defeated in his first attempt to be nominated for Congress, defeated in his application to be commissioner of the General Land Office, defeated in the senatorial election of 1854, defeated in his efforts for the vice presidency in 1856, and defeated in the senatorial election of 1858.

At about that time, he wrote a letter to a friend and said, "I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be one cheerful face on the earth."

Sir Winston Churchill was the British statesman who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-45, during World War II, and again from 1951-55.

But he repeated a grade during elementary school and, when he entered Harrow, was placed in the lowest division of the lowest class. Later, he twice failed the entrance exam to the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and he was defeated in his first effort to serve in Parliament.

He became prime minister of England at the age of 62 and later wrote, "Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never -- in nothing, great or small, large or petty -- never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

Thomas Edison, the American inventor who developed devices in fields of electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording and motion pictures, was described by his teachers as being "too stupid to learn anything." In fact, he was fired from his first two jobs for being "nonproductive."

As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps."

There are countless other examples of people you know who rose from the ashes to find success and yet, perseverance was all they had. But it was also all they needed.

Kevin Holten is the executive producer of "Special Cowboy Moments" on RFD-TV.

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