Update: thanks to astute commenter Baby Friday, apparently a few of these items are bogus. Snopes has a great writeup on this list, categorizing it as a "mixture of accurate and inaccurate information." Anyway, check out both the list and the Snopes writeup for a complete picture of Lincoln's travails (which were many, though perhaps not that many).
My friend Will Maier found a gem: a list of the failures Abraham Lincoln suffered before he finally achieved the presidency in 1860. (To be fair, there are a few successes in there, but items like "SWEETHEART DIED" and "DEFEATED FOR CONGRESS" seem particularly biting). It's humbling, and indeed offers us something to think about when a personal setback seems insurmountable: if Lincoln didn't admit defeat, why should you? From Will's blog:
I found this page in an old sales manual that belonged to my Grandfather. I feel it says something about how, in America, it is often difficult to imagine some of our successful heroes ever having been 'mere mortals' like ourselves. I think it's good to remind ourselves that it often takes years of failure before people experience success.