I have no shame in my love of history, especially all things about the Civil War. I’m a huge fan of Lincoln (and memorized the Gettysburg Address because I love it so much and it’s what all the cool kids are doing these days). So to honor his memory, here’s a few lessons I’ve taken away from good ol’ Abe. Plus tomorrow is his 206th birthday.
1. Surround yourself with people who challenge you.
Lincoln choose men for his cabinet who opposed many of his politics and ideas. Why? He knew he would be challenged. Surround yourself with people who will challenge you in your personal life, your relationships and your work/school.
2. Sometimes short and sweet has more impact.
The Gettysburg Address, one of the greatest speeches in American history, was just over two minutes long.
3. Try things you wouldn’t normally try.
Lincoln studied math because he wanted to sharpen his reasoning skills. Exercise your mind and never stop learning.
4. Honesty always win.
Lincoln was all about a good joke. Don’t take things so seriously you forget what life is really about.
“Live a good life. In the end it is not the years in a life, but the life in the years.”
6. Live fearlessly.
Not recklessly mind you, but without fear. Fear can be a powerful thing if we let it guide us. Don’t let it stop you from trying something new. It’s not always easy, but worth it.
7. Don’t be afraid to fail.
It isn’t pleasant when we do, but some of the greatest lessons learned are from times something has failed. Learn from mistakes and failures. Pick yourself up, dust off your pants and take that step forward. Lincoln once said: “I am not concerned that you have fallen — I am concerned that you arise.”
8. To be truly great, be about something bigger than yourself.
There are lots of people who have tremendous leadership skills, but that doesn’t make them great. Led by his faith and focus on others (like, say, an entire nation), Lincoln led with greatness.
9. And finally: Do what’s right, even when it’s costly.
Lincoln was assassinated because of what he did. I don’t know how many of us will have the opportunity to free people and save a nation, but we can make an impact in our circle of influence, no matter the size. It can be in small everyday decisions or life-changing decisions. Inspiring stories never feature people who cheat, lie or turn their back on others. Doing what’s right is always worth it.
Who is one of your favorite President and what lessons did their life teach you?