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Lincoln Leadership Lessons
Every Success Story is also a story of great Failures
This was a man who failed in business at the age of 21,
Was defeated in a legislative race at 22,
Failed again in business at 24,
Overcame a death of his sweet heart at 26,
Had a nervous breakdown at 27,
Lost a congressional race at 34,
Lost a senatorial race at 45,
Failed in an effort to become vice president at 47,
Lost a senatorial race at 49,
And was elected as the president of
United States of America at 52,
This was Abraham Lincoln…
Would you call him a failure ?
He could have quit, But to Lincoln –
Defeat was a detour, and not a dead end.
The next time you find disappointment and failure staring you in the face, think of Lincoln. In fact, think like him. His life and his words of wisdom could be excellent allies as you prepare to embark on your journey to greatness.
1. ‘I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.’ We all tend to worry about our inadequacies. We are concerned that we are not good enough. The trick is to focus not on how good you are, but on getting better. It is a good idea to ensure that you are moving towards your goal at all times. You may make slow progress but make sure you re making progress at all times.
2. ‘I will study and get ready, and perhaps my chance will come.’ Someone once said that the luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. If you sometimes feel that Lady Luck is not smiling on you, may be it’s because you are not preparing hard enough. The opportunity is there, but you are not quite ready to grab it. Don’t let that happen. Work hard. Your time will come.
3. ‘Whatever you are, be a good one.’ Your dream must not merely focus on becoming something – but on being good at whatever you choose to do. Whether you are a salesman or a software programmer, be a good one! Too often, we spend all our waking hours dreaming of being someone else or doing something else. Whatever you do, do it well.
4. ‘I do not think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.’ Learning is never-ending. Stay focused on learning new skills, new tricks. You probably are busy pouring over word lists and learning the meanings of new words as you prepare for an entrance exam. The exam will come and go, but the habit should stay forever. Remain curious about learning new words and expanding your vocabulary. It’s not about the words- it’s about the habit of learning.
There are two other aspects of Lincoln’s persona that marked him out as an outstanding leader. The first was his remarkable ability to put together the best possible team to work with him. People who fought bitterly against him in an election and were defeated, were soon wooed by Lincoln to join his team. No bitterness, no hang-ups and absolutely no animosity. Just a desire to harness the best minds to give himself the best possible chance of success! Across corporate broad rooms around the world, we see two contenders for the top job. When one of them gets it, the other usually leaves the organization. And with him goes all the experience and knowledge that had made him a strong contender in the first place. If only more leaders took a leaf out of Lincoln’s book – and made sure they retained their rivals – to ensure they had the strongest team at their disposal.
Finally, here’s a little story that sums up the great man. One morning, Lincoln was readying himself for another day in the office when a senior official walked into his house. He was surprised to see the President of America polishing his shoes. What, Mr. President, you polish your own shoes? Exclaimed the official.
‘Yes’ said Lincoln, barely looking up. Why, whose shoes do you polish ?
Retain your humility. Don’t let titles and success go to your head. Do those little tasks that remind you that you are just another human being. Don’t fall into the trap of believing you are greater than everyone else merely because you have a fancy degree of big-sounding title. Remember to polish your own shoes!
Other Valuable Lessons from Lincoln
Those who deny freedom to others,
deserve it not for themselves and
under a Just God, cannot long retain it.
As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master,
This expresses my idea of Democracy,
Whatever differs from this,
to the extent of the difference,
is no democracy.
I leave you, hopping that the lamp of liberty
will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt
that all men are created free an equal.
The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep’s throat,
for which the sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator,
while the wolf denounces him for the same act as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was a black one.
Plainly speaking the sheep and the wolf are
not agreed upon the definition of the word liberty;
and precisely the same difference prevails
today among us human creatures.
Don’t be afraid to confront risks.
It is by taking chances that
We learn how to be brave.
As you journey forward, do remember the Lincoln lessons. They will help you. Not just in the tests you face in your career but also in the larger examination called life !