Abraham Lincoln stands head and shoulders above the crowd as an example of someone who endured in the face of adversity. The movie “Lincoln” was a great reminder of his struggle and triumph as he faced incredible odds.
There are three qualities I admire as I think about the life he lived and the legacy he left behind him. He served as president during a time of intense conflict. He endured scathing criticism yet held to his values and changed history.
The three qualities that stand out and speak volumes for us today are his character, communication and courage.
Character in this sense is “being a person of moral force and integrity.” Lincoln was a man of sound values and lived up to his nick name “Honest Abe” – a name given to him as a young shopkeeper.
The story is told of him at the age of 24. He served as postmaster of New Salem and due to a clumsy bureaucracy waited years for the authorities to come and pick up the money he had collected while at his post. When asked to pay the $17 years later, he produced the exact amount of money which had remained untouched despite his poverty. Lincoln’s words were, “I never use any man’s money but my own.”
Lincoln always desired to do the right thing and his motto was: “Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.”
If you want to sleep soundly at night, stand strong at the finish line and grow through adversity, be honest and stand for what’s right.
Lincoln knew how to connect with people both in a crowd and one-on-one. His Gettysburg Address is one of the finest speeches ever written. He also loved telling stories. He said this about his story-telling ability: “They say I tell a great many stories. I reckon I do; but I have learned from long experience that plain people, take them as they run, are more easily influenced through the medium of a broad and humorous illustration than in any other way.”
Lincoln also enjoyed mingling with people – particularly the soldiers. He also kept an open door policy and rarely said no to meeting with anyone.
When going through adversity, if you connect well with people, tell a good story, you are more likely to communicate your ideas with influence and be able to ask for what you want and need.
Courage is essential when facing adversity. It gives you the strength to beat the odds and rise above the mess. When Lincoln began his presidency, it really was a mess he inherited from those before him. Seven states had seceded to form the Confederate States of America, the Union Army was unprepared for war and they were facing huge budget cuts in Congress.
The odds were not in his favour but he met his challenges head on and ploughed through. Hemingway called courage “grace under pressure” which describes Lincoln so well. Lincoln is quoted as saying, “It often requires more courage to dare to do right than to fear to do wrong. He who has the right needs not to fear.”
If like Lincoln, we stand sound in character, communicate well with people, and demonstrate courage when under fire, we also will stand head and shoulders above the crowd and leave a lasting legacy for those who follow.
What do you admire about Lincoln and his life?
Which of the three qualities do you need to improve upon the most?
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