Posts Tagged ‘Abe Lincoln Storyteller’

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

Senator Stephen Douglas

Stephen Douglas actually feared the storytelling skills of Abraham Lincoln.

When he opposed Lincoln in the 1858 election for Senate, Douglas said: “Every one of his stories seems like a whack upon my back. When he begins to tell a story, I feel that I am overmatched.”

Stories, like pictures, speak a thousand words and, for leaders, stories are powerful ways to connect with other people, illustrate a point and win loyalty.

Many leaders lead by sheer force or the threat of force, like a boss that I once worked for. Every day I had this sinking feeling in my gut, like Haystack Calhoun at a Weight Watchers meeting. To lighten the mood, we nicknamed the boss “sparky” because she apparently combed her hair by sticking a finger into the electrical outlet.

“Sparky”

In contrast, Lincoln led by persuasion and inspiration. He showed deep respect for the dignity of each individual. The mechanism that Lincoln used to persuade and win people’s loyalty was thru a simple and unassuming story, most often told in the course of personal conversation.

Carl Schurz, a Union General who first met Lincoln while riding on a train, commented on Lincoln’s uncanny ability to attract followers, in stating,

” I soon felt as if I had known him all my life and we had very long been close friends. He interspersed our conversation with all sorts of quaint stories, each of which had a witty point applicable to the subject at hand.”

Famed author and black leader Frederick Douglass said of his first encounter with Lincoln,

Frederick Douglass

“From the first moment of my interview with him I seemed to myself to have been acquainted with him for years.”

The Woodman’s Daughter

Virginian W.C. Reeves advised President Lincoln to appease the South and let them have Fort Sumter and all other government property in the Southern states without a fight.

Lincoln said, “That reminds me of the fable of the woodman’s daughter”

“A lion,” said the President, “was very much in love with a woodman’s daughter. The fair maid referred him to her father. The lion applied for the girl’s hand.”

The father replied, “Your teeth are too long.”

The lion went to a dentist and had them extracted. Returning, he asked for the bride.

“No,” said the woodman, “your claws are too long.”

Going back to the dentist, he had them drawn. Then he returned to claim his bride, and the woodsman, seeing that he was unarmed beat out his brains.”

Lincoln concluded, “May it not be so with me, if I give up all that is asked to appease the South?”

Lick Any Man in the Crowd

Many people felt that the Gen. Ulysses S. Grant be removed from command because He drank too much, and his troops suffered too many casualties.  Mr. Lincoln could night afford to lose the services of so valuable a soldier. The press nicknamed  him “Unconditional Surrender” Grant.

Grant

When southern armies would request to meet with Grant to discuss the terms of surrender, he would say “There are no terms! Only unconditional surrender!” because he would never negotiate terms of surrender with the rebels

Lincoln would tell the naysayers:

“That reminds me of a story,

“Out in my State of Illinois there was a man nominated for sheriff of the county. He was a good man for the office, brave, determined and honest, but he could not make a speech to save his life.

His friends implored him to come out and state his convictions and principles.

He finally relented to make a speech, advanced to the front and faced the crowd.

‘Feller Citizens, ‘I’m not a speakin’ man; I ain’t no orator, an’ I never stood up before a lot of people in my life before.

I’m not goin’ to make no speech, ‘xcept to say that I can lick any man in the crowd!’ ”

The beauty of these stories are that Lincoln told them in the first place. He could have just argued until he was blue in the face. However, no amount of reasoning could have persuaded people the way his stores did.

Lincoln said, “I reckon I have the popular reputation of being a storyteller, but it is not the story itself, but its purpose, that interests me. I often avoid a long and useless discussion or a laborious explanation by a short story that illustrates my point of view.”

Connect With Hearts

 Stories allow leaders the great virtue of being able to laugh at themselves, and connect with people’s hearts.

One story that Lincoln was fond of telling dealt with two Quaker ladies comparing Lincoln and Confederate President Jefferson Davies.

Quaker story.

“I think Jefferson will succeed,” said one.

“Why does thee think so?” asked the second.

“Because Jefferson is a praying man.”

“And so in Abraham a praying man.”

“Yes, but the Lord will think Abraham is joking.”

Lincoln’s Empathy

Lincoln’s proclivity to tell stories was related to the empathy he felt for people and the series of personal tragedies that followed him throughout life.

Willie Lincoln

The strongest blow may have been when his eleven-year-old son, Willie, died of typhoid fever, while Lincoln was president. Willie had the same magnetic personality of his father and he was Lincoln’s favorite. They were intimates, often seen hand in hand. Staggering under the blow of the taking from him of his child, Lincoln said, “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth.”

Even in this darkest hour, Lincoln relied on stories to see him through. He confided to a minister, “A good story is medicine to my bones.”

Paint a Picture

Remember, next time you need to make a friend, illustrate a point, or win loyalty, – replace talking, with stories. And you’ll paint a picture that speaks a thousand words.

 

Upcoming Presentations/Activities:

June 5th, 2015. Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy. Tucson, AZ.

 Other Lincoln Articles:

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview (video)

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Abraham Lincoln and the Kindergarten Class

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015

Last week I made two presentations.

First was a power point presentation to the distinguished residents of the Arizona Senior Academy on “How Abraham Lincoln Told Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.” The audience was one of the most Lincoln-informed that I have had the pleasure to present to. During he question and answer period following my presentation, I was asked extremely insightful questions about Lincoln. I was having so much fun interacting with the audience, several of whom were authors themselves, that I hated to leave.

Arizona Senior Academy

My second presentation was to the Aztec Toastmasters Club on the topic of “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Overcome Trials and Tribulations.” Below is a clip from that presentation, on how Lincoln used stories to soften the blow of saying “no”.

 

Upcoming Presentations:

April 18, 2015. Forum Speaker at The Association of Lincoln Presenters 2015 Convention, Vandalia, Illinois.

The Association of Lincoln Presenters

 

Related Posts:

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview (video)

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

 Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

 

Abraham Lincoln said, “Stories are the shortest distance between a stranger and a friend.” Lincoln understood the power of a story.  It was a tool that allowed him to quickly and dramatically connect with people.

I will share the techniques Lincoln used to tell a story in my presentation on Wednesday (Feb. 4) at 3:30 p.m. at the Arizona Senior Academy.

Based on my newest book, “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones,” I will illustrate Lincoln’s methods of mimicry, self-effacing humor, and adding a moral or surprise twist to a story.

I will also discuss the following five examples of why Lincoln told stories.

 1) To replace depression with an anecdote

Friends of Lincoln commented that he was able to snap himself out of a seemingly deep depression by telling a funny story.

Judge David Davis (of the Eighth Circuit Court in Illinois, the Court where Lincoln practiced law), said that after long days in court,

“If Lincoln was oppressed, the feeling was soon relieved by the narration of a story. The tavern loungers enjoyed it, and his melancholy, taking to itself wings, seemed to fly away.”

2) As safety-valve to relieve stress

Do you think that your life is stressful because you have a raving boss and a dysfunctional family life, while at the same time trying to find enough money to make ends meet?

Consider for a moment how stressful Lincoln’s life was. He was President during an unpopular war that he seemed to be losing; the majority of his Cabinet members thought that he was an ignoramus and they all could do a better job as President; and, a hysterical wife made his home life seem like A Nightmare on Elm Street. If Lincoln had been under any more pressure he would have turned into a diamond.

Given the situation that he found himself, it’s only natural that he needed some way to blow off steam and relieve the pressure. He did that though storytelling.

It was common for Lincoln to liven up a Cabinet meeting by telling a story or by reading some humorous quotes from his favorite authors Artemus Ward and Robert Newell (both genial newspaper critics who supported Lincoln’s policies.)  When nit-picky Cabinet members failed to appreciate the humor as he did, Lincoln reproached them by saying,

“Gentlemen, why don’t you laugh? With the fearful strain that is upon me night and day, if I did not laugh occasionally I should die, and you need this medicine as much as I do.”

3) To avoid making a commitment

 It seemed that nearly everyone (in addition to the aforementioned salted mixed-nuts in the President’s Cabinet) thought they could run the county better than Lincoln, and they were not shy about coming to the White House to tell him so.

Lincoln often used stories as a sort of insect repellant against the army ant horde of know-it-alls who came to his office with their harebrained schemes. Law partner, William Herndon, observed Lincoln’s methods as,

“. . .  Swinging around what he suspected was the vital point, but never nearing it, interlacing his answers with a seemingly endless supply of stories and jokes.”

Visitors would leave his office feeling they had persuaded the president to their way of thinking, but once having walked only a few blocks they realized they had been bamboozled by Lincoln’s tricky verbal manipulations, or as Herndon put it,

“[After] blowing away the froth of Lincoln’s humorous narratives, they would find nothing left.”

 4) To soften the blow of having to tell someone “no”

 Lincoln received many “favor seekers” to his office. Often they were upset because he had fired a relative who was in line to become a general, or because he backed a program that ran against their interest, or he failed to give a job to a “qualified” candidate.  Lincoln politely welcomed them all and immediately waylaid them with a story.  These visitors left his company without what they came for but with only with what they were given: a story with a message for them to think about.

One example of how Lincoln used stories to soften a refusal was when Senator John Creswell (a loyal Republican supporter of Lincoln) came to Lincoln to request the release of an old friend who had been captured and imprisoned.

Creswell admitted,

“I know the man has acted like a fool, but he is my friend, and a good fellow; let him out; give him to me, and I will be responsible that he will have nothing further to do with the rebels.”

Lincoln contemplated the request. It reminded him of a group of young people who went on a little country excursion. They crossed a shallow stream in a flatboat, but on their way back they found that the boat had disappeared. So each boy picked up a girl and carried her across, until the only ones remaining were a little short chap and a great “Gothic-built” old maid. Lincoln complained,

Jefferson Davis

“Now Creswell, you are trying to leave me in the same predicament. You fellows are all getting your friends out of this scrape; and you will succeed in carrying off one after another, until nobody but Jeff Davis [President of the Confederate States] and myself will be left, and then I won’t know what to do. How should I feel? How should I look, lugging him over?”

5) To point out flaws in logic

 Combined with his rapier wit, Lincoln’s proclivity for logic enabled him to point out the absurdity of an argument with a casual jest.

Supporters of an applicant for the position of Commissioner of the Hawaiian Islands tried to convince Lincoln that their man was both competent for the post but also in dire need it because the climate was good his health.

Lincoln responded:

“Gentlemen, there are eight other applicants for that position, and they are all sicker’n your man.”

 Upcoming Presentation:

Feb. 4, 2015, 3:30 to 4:30 pm (Mtn. time). Presentation to the Arizona Senior Academy. Tucson, Arizona.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Related Posts:

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview (video)

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview (video)

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

 

Alex and Tina attempt to put me In a double arm bar, unless I agree to tell one more Abe Lincoln story.
“Sorry Alex and Tina, you’ve reached your daily limit!”

Friday was my interview on the Morning Blend (KGUN 9 TV), with genial hosts Alex Steiniger and Tina Jennings, to discuss “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.”

I had a chance to tell Lincoln’s “Pitchfork and Dog” story and one of my own stories, based on Lincoln’s storytelling techniques, “the Doctor and the Hot Mama.”

 

Here is the complete interview :

 

 _________

 

Upcoming Presentations or Interviews on “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones”

Feb. 4, 2015, 3:30 to 4:30 pm (Mtn. time). Presentation “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of Story,” to the Arizona Senior Academy. Tucson, Arizona.

 

Related Posts:

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Abraham Lincoln Storytelling Secret – Add Voices

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

 Abraham Lincoln’s “Teeth Will Be Provided” Story

 The fiery Irish minister was preaching on the End Times – and in particular on the Day of Judgment. As he reached the climax of his address he said that on the Day of Judgment “You will all wail and gnash your teeth.”

At which point an old woman raised her hand and said, 

“Preacher, I ain’t got no teeth.”

The Minister replied, “Madam, on this great Judgment Day, teeth will be provided. “

Radio Interview

During my radio interview with Bob Schmidt (WLFN 1490 A.M.) on Friday, I discussed how Abraham Lincoln used body language, facial expressions, and voice mimicking to make a story effective.

 “Be the ball, Danny”

 In the movie Caddyshack, Chevy Chase earnestly instructed his young golf protégé,

 “Danny, there’s a force in the universe that makes things happen. And all you have to do is get in touch with it, stop thinking, let things happen, and be the ball.”

Likewise, one of Lincoln’s storytelling secrets was his ability “to be the story,” or, by putting himself so much into the story and into each character of the story, he and the story became one.

William Herndon

William Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner, said,

“Lincoln’s power of mimicry and his manner of recital were unique. His countenance and all his features seemed to take part in the performance.”

Do’s and don’ts of Lincoln storytelling     

Here are the “do’s” and “don’ts” in the Lincoln school of storytelling:

Do:

1) Give each character a personality: a voice, a stance, a way of moving.

2)Use words to vocalize an emotion, and use facial expressions to visualize the emotion.

3) Add interest to your voice by varying your rate of delivery, your volume, your pitch, your inflections, and your word emphasis.

Don’t:

1) Be overly melodramatic; keep expressions and gestures subtle.

2) Be afraid to have some fun.

For a great example of using body language and facial expressions to communicate, watch Charlie Chaplin in the boxing scene from his masterpiece “City Lights.”

Learn to mimic voices

Much of Lincoln’s success as a story teller was due to a talent for mimicry. Author T. G. Onstot said,

“In the role of story-teller, I never knew his equal. His power of mimicry was very great. He could perfectly mimic any accent.”

In my case, I use voices of famous actors as voices for the characters in my stories. Some of the voices I use are John Wayne (for any cowboy-type, or tough-guy character), Henry Fonda (for Abraham Lincoln, or “good guy” characters), Jack Nicholson (for bad or slimy guys), a teenager whose voice is breaking (for teenagers or scattered brained characters), Eeyore, from Winnie the Pooh, or Goofy, (for a slow thinker or a frightened person).

Here are some tips on how to mimic voices:

1) Watch videos on YouTube of the person you want to imitate;

2) Practice saying the same words that they say;

3) Practice at least four times a day;

4) Make a video of yourself doing impressions;

5) Anytime you read a book to children, practice using different voices for each character when you read a book to the class.

In developing a “minister voice,” a voice that Lincoln would have used in the “Teeth Will Be Provided” story, I watched

Reverend Lovejoy

videos of Reverend Lovejoy from The Simpsons. Some keys to learning the minister voice were to speak slowly, to deepen my voice at the end of a sentence, to stretch out the last word of each sentence, and to incorporate a slight southern twang.

Don’t worry if your impersonations are not perfect. Mine never are. Impersonations just need to be good enough to allow the audience to identify the characters.

 

———————————————————————————————

 FREE on Kindle only December 25!

“How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones.” Download

Reviews are appreciated!

———————————————————————————————-

Upcoming Interviews on “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones”

Dec 17, 6:10 am (Mtn. time). Interview with the dynamic Dan Ramey, WBEX Radio 1490 AM, Chillicothe, Ohio. Web broadcast on http://www.wbex.com/onair/dan-mike-in-the-morning-3786/.

Dec. 30, 6:08 am (Mtn. time). Interview with the genial and witty Jeff Anderson, KSDR AM, Watertown, SD.

Jan. 2, 11:00 -noon (Mtn. time). Interview on the Morning Blend with hosts Tina Jennings and Maria Parmigiani, KGUN9-TV, Tucson, AZ.

Feb. 4 ,2015, 3:30 to 4:30 pm (Mtn. time). Presentation to the Arizona Senior Academy. Tucson, Arizona.

Podcasts of Previous Interviews

Dec. 11, 2014. Interview with the redoubtable Rich Peterson, KROC Radio 1340 AM, Rochester, Minnesota. Podcast.

Related Posts:

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

 Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

Abe Lincoln Storyteller Radio Interview with Rich Peterson

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

Rich Peterson

During the congenial radio interview with (the redoubtable) Rich Peterson of KROC 1340 AM in Rochester, Minnesota, we touched on:

1) How to find good stories to tell, and;

2) What are the characteristics that comprise a good story?

My response (with some bells and whistles added after the fact) went like this:

Finding and preserving stories

 Stories can be found everywhere – books television, movies, church. Some of the best stories are the ones we hear from friends, or overhearing from other conversations throughout the course of our day. The stories are out there like apples on a tree, ready to be picked. The key is to remember them.

In my case, when I hear a story that I want to remember, I immediately write it down. If I’m in my house, I write it in a notebook or in my desk calendar. I also carry re-cycled envelopes in my pocket to jot down story ideas, when I’m outside the house. They are especially useful when I am taking the dog for a walk, or going to church. When I return home, I transfer the story to my notebook or calendar.

The next step is to “Lincolnize” the story, or transform the story so that it is no longer just “a story” but it becomes “your” story.

The Lincoln Storytelling Template

 Use this template to frame your story in the same electric style that Lincoln used to tell his stories. Follow Lincoln to reap the harvest of a typical Lincoln story and:

1.  Connect with your listener.

2.  Generate laughter.

3.  Enlighten your listener.

 Step One – Opening sentence

Segue from topic being discussed to the story:

“That reminds me of a when I  . . .” or,

“Let me illustrate that point . . .” or,

“Speaking of . . . one time I when I was  . . .  .”

 Personalize the story. Never start a story by saying “A man walked into a bar.” Instead say, “I walked into a bar,” or, “My friend, Frank, walked into a bar.” Just jump into the story without prefacing it with “Here’s a funny story” or “I heard a story the other day.”

Step Two – Tell your story with pizzazz

 Tell a story to illustrate your point:

 “When I tried to make telephone calls to the U.S. I had to wait a long time . . .  .” (From a Peace Corps story I tell).

 Become one with the story. Give each character a personality.

Step Three – Thought provoking conclusion

Wrap up with a moral or humorous twist:

“If you don’t shake every hand, you can’t talk to Aunt Fran.” (From the Peace Corps story).

Place this succinct message of the story into your final sentence.

He is a link to the Rich Peterson – Abe Lincoln Storyteller interview.

———————————————————————————————

 FREE on Kindle only December 25!

“How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones.” Download

Reviews are appreciated!

———————————————————————————————-

Upcoming Presentations or Interviews on “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones”

Dec 12, 2014, 6:15 am (Mtn. time) the indomitable Bob Schmidt, WLFN 1490 AM, Onalaska, Wisconsin. Listen in at http://www.1490wlfn.com/bs_with_bob_schmidt.html.

Dec 17, 6:10 am (Mn. time). Interview with the dynamic Dan Ramey, WBEX Radio 1490 AM, Chillicothe, Ohio. Web broadcast on http://www.wbex.com/onair/dan-mike-in-the-morning-3786/.

Jan. 2, 11:00 -noon (Mtn. time). Interview on the Morning Blend with hosts Tina Jennings and Maria Parmigiani, KGUN9-TV, Tucson, AZ.

Feb. 4, 2015, 3:30 to 4:30 pm (Mtn. time). Presentation to the Arizona Senior Academy. Tucson, Arizona.

Related Posts

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President)

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

7 Book Promotion Tips by Radio Host Bob Schmidt

Abraham Lincoln Storytelling Secret – Add Voices

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair

Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me about the Power of Stories

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

While defending a man against an assault charge, Lincoln claimed it was more like self-defense, as in the case of a man he knew who was walking down the road with a pitchfork and was attacked by a very fierce dog. In trying to ward off the dog’s attacks he stuck the prongs of the pitchfork into the animal and killed him. According to Lincoln, the dialogue that followed went like this:

“What made you kill my dog?” said the farmer.

“What made your dog try to bite me?” the man answered.

“But why didn’t you go after him with the other end of your pitchfork?”

“Why didn’t he come after me with his other end?”

The jury found Lincoln’s client innocent of assault

Lincoln’s Secretary of Treasury said, “Many of Mr. Lincoln’s stories were as apt and instructive as the best of Aesop’s Fables.”

3 Reasons to Use Stories

Lincoln used stories for many different reasons, but here are three reasons that stand out to me.

1.) Stories are tools of persuasion use to avoid provoking people.

Lincoln said, “They say I tell a great many stores and I reckon I do, but I believe that common people, are more easily informed through the medium of a broad illustration than in any other way.”

Studies show that people are more receptive to information presented as a story than if it is merely presented as a dry, unadorned, fact.

2.) Stories are an entertaining and compelling way to connect with people. Lincoln commented, “Stories are the shortest path between strangers and friends.”

Carl Schurz

Carl Schurz, a union general who first met Lincoln on a train described the meeting by saying,

“I soon felt as if I had known him all my life and we had very long been close friends. He interspersed our conversation with all sorts of quaint stories, each of which had a witty point applicable to the subject at hand.”

3.) Stories have the power to bring about change. Our stories we chose communicate a deeper meaning, our values, hopes and ideals in a way that most people can relate. They show us the difference between what is and what could be.

Plato said, “Those who tell stories rule the world.”

“I am not simply a story-teller,” said Lincoln, “It is not the story itself, but its purpose that interests me.” He didn’t force his messages on his audience, he let in unfold in their own imaginations.

Where to Get Stories

Like me, you may not be a natural born storyteller, and you might not have a treasure trove of fascinating stories to draw upon. But Lincoln said that he almost never invented stories. He told stories and jokes he remembered hearing or reading and he adapted them to fit the issue at hand.

Draw upon stories that you have personally experienced, or utilize stories that you have heard or read. Modify these stories to slip in your message instead of hitting people over the head with it.

Opportunities to Tell Stories Present Themselves

Stories proved their value to me when I spent time with my Mother during the last year of her life. She was constantly in and out of hospital and rehabilitation facilities. We were together so much that often the only thing I could think to say was to recall family stories from the past. I realized that the best way to communicate feelings and deep thoughts was through these stories.

Stories are also a useful teaching tool with my two teenage sons. I can no longer use the direct technique with them, and just say “stop doing that or you can’t watch TV!” That approach is a dead end. It would just result in an argument and hard feelings.

If I really want to mold their behavior, I talk to them when they are relaxed, like in the car, and I tell them an interesting story (at least to me) from my past experience that reflects some point that I want to make. Sometimes I wonder if my boys are really paying attention to my “rambling reminisces.” But, when they later ask me for more details about a story that I have told, I realize that maybe my story has struck a chord with them.

Stories Are More Persuasive Than Logic

At a meeting of newspaper editors, where he felt out of place, Lincoln used this story:

“I feel like I did once when I met a woman riding horseback in the woods, As I stopped to let her pass, she also stopped and looking at me intently.

She said, ‘I do believe you are the ugliest man I ever saw.’

Said I: ‘Madam, you are probably right, but I can’t help it.’

‘No, she said, ‘you can’t help it, but you might stay at home.’ ”

And magically, after hearing the story, the reporters who were strangers became Lincoln’s  friends.

Learn from Lincoln. Stop being so logical, fact filled and practical in your communications. Dig deeper, make people laugh, cry and think by wrapping it in a compelling story. Connect to people’s hearts by the stories you tell.

Recommended readings:

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

Following in Lincoln’s Footsteps: My presentation to the ALP Convention (video)

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Lincoln Storytelling at AZ Senior Academy and Aztec Toastmasters (Video)

Feb. 4: “Abraham Lincoln and the Power of a Story” at AZ Senior Academy

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview

Abraham Lincoln Storytelling Secret – Add Voices

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People by T. Sprouse

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book by T. Sprouse

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Win the Presidential Nomination (a lesson for the 2016 Candidates for President) by T. Sprouse

Volunteering at Pascua Yaqui Youth Career Academy Job Fair by T. Sprouse

How To Have The Language Intelligence Of Abraham Lincoln: ‘The Greatest Thing By far Is To Be A Master Of Metaphor’ by Joe Romm at ClimateProgress

Mr. Sandburg, speak to us! by Bill Nash at Abe’s Log Cabin.

How Abraham Lincoln mastered the art of storytelling by John Sadowsky

Lesson From Abraham Lincoln On Becoming A Great Storyteller by Jay Oza

The Power of Overlooking an Offense at Kingdom People

John Y. Brown, III: Lincoln and the Power of Story at The Recovering Politician

Is a state pension enough to support you in retirement? at Reach Financial Independence

Does Volunteering And Charitable Giving Lead To Happier Employees And Higher Profits? at Untemplater

The grocery game challenge June 24-30, 2013 #4: Fruit and vegetable preparation at Canadian Budget Binder

Do You Sneak Snacks Into The Movies? at Eyes on the Dollar

 Review of “The Hour of Peril” – 5 Abe Lincoln Anecdotes