Abraham Lincoln is one of the most beloved presidents of the United States, and he is also considered one of the most important men in history. Although he came from a poor family and was raised by parents who were illiterate, he grew up to be a man known for his intelligence, education, and his great ability for leadership. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Kentucky. His father Thomas was a hard working farmer and carpenter. His mother Nancy died when he was still a kid; her death is believed to have been caused by drinking poisoned milk.
Although Abraham was known as a man who knew a lot about books, and different intellectual subjects, he was also a man who knew how to do hard physical work. Abraham grew up in a farm, and he soon learned different types of physical work. He would always help his father with chores around the farm, and he even helped him build a house. Abraham learned really young to use an axe; he was actually known for his great skills as log splitter. When he was a kid he would go to school whenever it was possible, however, most of the time he had to stay home and help his father in the farm. Knowing the importance of hard work and the persistency needed to survive is essential for any person who has the desire to achieve great things in life.
Despite his humble upbringing, Abraham was known for his mastery of words. The fact that he was not able to go to school very often was not something that prevented him from learning new things. Abraham loved reading different types of books since he was a kid. He read anything he could get his hands on, from the Bible to Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s Progress, and even biographies of other admirable people like George Washington. He would take a book everywhere he went just in case he had time to sit down for a little bit and read. All the time spent reading books paid off because he was a good speller, and a good writer. His friends would even ask him to read or write letters for them. He also liked writing poems from time to time.
Also, his passion for knowledge and books allowed him to be able to use rhetoric effectively with people despite the fact he didn’t go to school for a long time. His ability to use words in order to convince people was first developed when he started going to the library of a man called James Rutledge. There he participated in debates, and he also started to read books on a broader variety of subjects. He started studying mathematics, geometry, politics, and he even memorized passages and monologues from Shakespeare’s plays.
Abraham Lincoln was born in a humble and uneducated family. However, he grew up to be an educated man, who was admired for his ability to use words in a poetic way, for his thirst for knowledge, for his great sense of humor, and for a great sense of responsibility. He was a man that inspires admiration and respect even today. It is incredible that someone who grew up doing farm work instead of going to school was able to become an intellectual whose ideals and determination changed the course of the country in such a big way. Although he died young, he was able to accomplish many things, and was able to provide a great example of what a leader should be like. His words are still a great source of inspiration, and the way he lived his life still teaches people how they can become successful.
1. Learn to Be a Hard-Working Person
Abraham Lincoln learned since a young age to work hard every day. He knew how to use different tools, and he learned good and handy skills. Even though he probably did not enjoy working in a farm every day as a kid, he did it, and he became good at what he did. For example, he was known for his skills with an ax. Although you probably do not have to learn to do farm work, or to learn to use other tools, you do need to work hard, and be good at whatever you do. Successful people and great leaders are people who started by putting real effort into everything they did. Employees respect their bosses more when they know their bosses know what it is like to work for long hours, and to do other types of jobs that are not fun but that are necessary. Great employers and leaders are also people who know what it is like to be on the other side, and they respect and appreciate the people who work for them. Of course, it is also important to learn to work hard in order to achieve any type of goal; the most rewarding things come after you learn to put effort and time into them.
Self-mastery is a skill that everyone should try to acquire. Abraham Lincoln did not grow up with rich parents who could afford to send him to good schools or to provide for him different types of experiences that would allow him to develop a wide variety of skills. However, he was someone interested in teaching himself different abilities. His parents were illiterate, yet he learned to be a good writer by reading from the best books. He was also interested in political debates, so he read speeches by different important people, and he went to debates to listen and to practice. He was willing to put the effort and discipline necessary to become good at speaking in public, at writing, and other skills that would allow him to reach his goals. Like him, if you want to start your own business, or if you want your business to grow, you need to be willing to become more disciplined. You need to learn as much as you can about your own field. Like Lincoln, you can do it by learning from the best, from people who have done what you want to do. This will require time and willingness to learn different methods and techniques. You do not have to put everything you learn into practice, you can do research on different methods, and then decide for yourself what the best way would be for your business, or for whatever goal you are trying to reach. The important thing is that you learn to teach yourself, that you discipline yourself, and that you become an expert in your own field.
3. Learn the Mastery of Words
Being able to persuade people is one of the greatest skills that a good leader can have. Abraham Lincoln became very passionate about reading since he was a young boy. He learned the art of using words in a poetic way from the best authors. He learned from Shakespeare, Chaucer, and many other great writers. Then, he not only focused on reading, he also practiced by writing letters, poems, and speeches. He also practiced public speaking by entering debates, and by preparing his speeches before he had to speak. Chances are if you own a business you will have to speak in front of your employees every once in a while. If you want to be able to fill them with courage, and to motivate them to do their part the best way they can, you need to learn the mastery of words. You can do this by reading other people’s speeches, by reading also great monologues, and pieces of literature. You also have to practice by daring to speak in public, or by taking time to write whatever ideas you have, and things that you think can help the company grow. Learning to be a good writer and speaker can provide many advantages for your business. For example, putting ideas into clear sentences will be great for your employees, because that way they will understand where exactly you want to go, and how it is that you want to get there. Also, you can use words to motivate them to do their work, and you can encourage them to seek the growth of the company too. This skill will also be helpful in times of crisis; words of encouragement can be really helpful in times of high stress.
4. Use the Art of Storytelling
Abraham Lincoln was also good at telling stories. As mentioned before he loved reading stories, which is also probably why he was good at telling them. He knew stories could be very powerful because it is a great way to get a point across, or to explain a complex idea. Which is why he would collect stories he heard when he travelled, and he would use them at appropriate times, like the story about the woodman and the snakes. Humans love stories; it is something that we do every day. Humans communicate through storytelling; for example we like telling other people stories that happened to us during the day, or we love going to the movie theater to be inspired after seeing someone go through hard trials. Storytelling is also used a lot in business; for example, in marketing, a lot of commercials try to tell a short story so people can relate, and so they feel persuaded to buy a certain product. Stories can make people feel strong emotions, so even if a commercial is short, usually they try to make people feel something, whether it is nostalgia, love, excitement, etc. They can have people in a commercial using a product in a family environment so people relate the product to an environment filled with love. The gift of storytelling can be used in your business not only for marketing purposes, but also when you try to explain ideas to your clients, or employees. They can also be used to inspire the team working for you whenever they need an example of courage. It is also a fun way to get people’s attention when you are offering training or having long meetings. And it can also be a great way to bond with people, and to create a fun environment whenever that is necessary.
5. Don’t Criticize
After criticizing an opponent and being challenged to a duel, Abraham Lincoln realized that criticizing people who have different ideas was not the best way achieve a goal, or to defeat your opponents. Lincoln was criticized by people who wanted to abolish slavery fast for not acting sooner, and he was criticized by people who did not want to abolish slavery for taking action. There were always people who criticize his idea, decisions, and actions, yet he encouraged people to stay united, and to remain friends. Lincoln became friends with Shields after they decided not to duel. In business relationships it can be very easy to become enemies with someone, or to decide to criticize your opponent or competition. It might also be very common to run into people who will want to criticize your methods and decisions. However, it is important to focus time, energy, and intellect in finding solutions, or other ways to improve and make your company grow. Focusing time and resources in criticizing your opponents will not bring benefits to your company, and it might actually hurt its image and prestige. Your company will have a better chance of growing when resources are used to figure out ways to solve problems, instead of using them to figure out ways to hurt your opponent or competition.
6. Know How to Take Criticism
Although he was a loved president, Abraham Lincoln was also criticized by many. Some people resented him for deciding to abolish slavery, and others disagree with his ideas and politics. He had to learn to deal with criticism because it was part of his life, especially after he became a president, and he was known by everyone in America. Yet as the famous story about being called two-faced shows, he knew how to handle criticism from others. People tend to attack and criticize those who have dreams, or those who want to bring big changes to a place or a community. In business, it is common to want to try new ways to do things, so it is important to be prepared to be criticized by others who might think your ideas are foolish. It is essential to learn to laugh when others attack you. It is also important to learn when certain criticism is meant to hurt, and when it is meant to help you see things from a different perspective, and analyze your methods and techniques. When criticism is meant to attack, it is important to learn to control yourself, and to not react with emotion. A good business leader is able to stay calm and think clearly even when being attacked or criticized. If the people working for you notice you are someone who is not able to control your temper or your emotions when being criticized, they will not respect you, or trust you to make good decisions when you are under pressure.
7. Responsibility and Accountability
Abraham Lincoln had to face really hard moments as the leader of the country, yet, he always responded with sense of responsibility. Deciding to push forward the law that would abolish slavery was not easy, but he knew he had the responsibility to move the country forward, and to make sure that everyone living in the country could enjoy of the rights that any human being deserved. He knew he was accountable for the lives of many people while he was the president, and he always tried to improve their lives, even if it meant sacrifices had to be made. He also knew he was responsible for his wife and children, and he made sure they were educated and loved. Successful business leaders know they will have to make hard choices that could change the path of their business and employees. They are willing to face hard times, and to take responsibility for the success or failure of their business. They also need to show accountability when making deals with clients, creditors, investors, customers, etc. They need to be able to meet clients’ expectations, creditors’ deadlines, and any other deals made with other companies or investors. In order to be able to have a long-lasting and successful business, you will need to show people that you dependable, and that you will keep any promises made. In order to make your business grow you will need to show your connections that they can trust in you, and that you will abide by contracts and expectations.