Articles

Lincoln on Leadership

August 30, 2021

Abraham Lincoln was not a genius (a life-long student of him said); he was a man who had natural powers and abilities, but raised some of them to genius levels. That is his ultimate gift to the remainder of us “normal” people: do the common things at the highest level possible. Don’t give up!

1. DISCOVER WHAT IT IS THAT YOU WILL DIE FOR IF NECESSARY. Something matters ultimately.

2. PREPARE FOR PEOPLE TO HATE YOU.  No president was ever hated as viciously as Lincoln; over three hundred direct threats were made against his life. Millions of southerners wanted him dead. (a) Nobody was ever loved by everybody, and you won’t be. (b) Criticism is often the death-gurgle of the non-achiever.

3. DON’T TRY TO “BUILD A LEGACY;” GET ON WITH WHAT IS AT HAND. Don’t try to be spectacular, but faithful.

4. FIND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE TO WORK WITH.  Leave others behind, kindly. Like Lincoln, you may be forced, to work with your haters.

5. GET READY TO FAIL. No baseballer ever batted 1000. Lincoln was famous for failing, but he never left the battle. 

6. READ, BECAUSE “LEADERS ARE READERS.” (a) Lincoln had ONE year of “formal” education, but read voraciously. (b) His favorites: the Bible, Aesop, Parson Weems, Gibbons, Voltaire, Shakespeare.  (c) And MUCH more, including the daily newspapers. He read aloud!

7. DO THAT WHICH IS AT HAND EVEN IF IT SEEMS MILES FROM YOUR GOAL.

8. BELIEVE THAT GOD HAS A SPECIAL, PARTICULAR CALLING ON YOUR LIFE. (a) God never created any human for whom He had no agenda! (b) Lincoln was ambitious, specifically, “to so something before I die to earnthe esteem of my fellow man.” (He said that at twenty-three. He, apparently, NEVER thought of becoming President until perhaps a year, maybe two, before he did.)

9. WHEN THE BATTLE IS OVER, PUT YOUR WEAPONS DOWN AND GO HOME WITH “MALICE TOWARD NONE AND CHARITY FOR ALL.”

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not hold a slave.”
“If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”
“I do the very best I can. I mean to keep on going. If the end brings me out all right, then what is said against me won’t matter. If I’m wrong, ten angels swearing I was right won’t make a difference.”
“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”