Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln and the Power of Stories’

Think for Yourself: Never Ask a Barber if You Need a Haircut – LifeLesson #13

Sunday, December 27th, 2015

roto rooter truck

“Trust everyone, but always cut the cards.”

— Anon

The Roto-Rooter Christmas Grinch

Two days before Christmas, the sewer backed up in my house.

My brother suggested that I try Roto-Rooter (slogan: We’re #1 in the number 2 business!). They charged him $65 to clean out his clogged sewer pipe. My regular plumber charges $95.

I gave Roto-Rooter a call.

“Helloooo, this is Roto-Rooter, Susan speaking.”

“Hi Susan, my name is Terry, I have a backed up sewer and need it cleaned out. I understand that you charge $65.”

Several seconds passed with no response.

“Hello,” I said.

“Yes, well we don’t have a $65 service. That might be Rapid Rooter. I can send a plumber over to give you a free estimate.”

A red flag started waving in my mind.

I thought, I’ll let them do the free estimate. How much could a simple job like this cost?  

“Okay,” I said, “send him over for a free estimate.”

“How will you be paying for the service, by credit card, check or cash?”

Another red flag went up.

“Credit card,” I replied.

The plumber arrives in an official red, white and blue Roto-Rooter truck.

He said, “Hi I’m Frank,” as he smiled and shook my hand.

We exchanged pleasantries then he quickly inspected my sewer setup.

Grinch

Today is your lucky day!

“I can clean out your main sewer drain for only $225.”

“That sounds a little high. It’s only a 10 minute job.”

“The $225 is actually a Christmas present we are giving to our customers. We normally charge $300.”

“Really? I’d call that more of a Christmas present that Roto-Rooter is giving to itself, at the expense of its customers.”

“Would you rather have sewer water in your house?”

“No, I’d rather call someone else who will charge a fair price.”

“Okay. Have a good day,” He said, but he was probably thinking,

There are plenty of other easy marks willing to pay the Christmas ‘special’ price.

I called my regular plumber and paid the $95 to have the sewer pipe cleaned.

I wondered how many other innocent victims fell for this Grinch-like mumbo jumbo.

Your Car Will Crash and Burn!

This Roto-Rooter ploy reminded the cross-country trip my family took when I was 10 years old.

national-lampoons-car

The engine in our 1964 Chevy Station Wagon started making a funny noise near Wichita, Kansas. My father stopped at a garage to have it checked out.

After a twenty minute wait, a greasy mechanic, with the nametag “Bob,” came out. He said,

“You need to replace the thermostat and you need a balancing rod.”

My dad replied, “Just replace the thermostat, Bob.”

“I highly recommend a new balancing rod. I wouldn’t drive this car another mile without it.”

“No thanks.”

After the mechanic left, I said, “Dad, I’m worried, it sounds like we really need that balancing rod.”

“We’ll be okay.”

While waiting for our car, I heard the same mechanic tell another customer, “Your car needs a new balancing rod. I would be afraid drive that car without it.”

I was stunned. A mechanic would actually lie to someone about his car?

The Lesson

The next time I smell a rat like Frank or Bob, I will avoid that business the same way I avoid clichés – like the plague!

Authors note:

These stories are my attempt to glean insights from the seemingly mundane incidents that occur in every day life. My plan is to capture these “eureka moments” and squeeze all the illumination and inspiration from them, before they can slip through my fingers.

Like the storytelling of Abraham Lincoln, I think one’s own personal stories can transform both the listener and the speaker.

Upcoming Presentations: 

February 17, 2016, 1:30 pm. “Life of Abraham Lincoln.” St Cyril School , Tucson, Arizona.

March 21, 2016, 7:00 am. “Finding Stories in Your Hero’s Journey.” Aztec Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 9, 2016. “Storytelling and The Hero’s Journey.” Cometitive Edge Toastmasters. Tucson, Arizona.

April 14, 2016, 12:30 to 1:30. “Use Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones, Like Abraham LIncoln Did.” Moon Valley Women’s Club, Phoenix, Arizona.

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“Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

 

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

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

 

Participants at the 2015 ALP Convention in Vandalia

Last Saturday, I made a presentation to the Association of Lincoln Presenters Convention  entitled, “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones,” based on my book.

The presentation took place in the Old Vandalia Statehouse, Vandalia, Illinois, (Illinois state motto – Please Don’t Pronounce the “S”) in the chambers where Lincoln actually served as a state representative. I thought I could feel Lincoln’s spirit in that venerable place.

It didn’t hurt that all the Lincoln Presenters were decked out in full Lincoln contume (“with a great beard comes great responsiblity”). They were the most receptive audience I’ve ever had. I felt they all loved Lincoln as much as I did.

At the age of 28, while serving in the Illinois General Assembly, Lincoln made one of his first public declarations against slavery, in the Vandalia Statehouse. Lincoln stated,The institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy”

One historian called it “The first formal declaration against the system of slavery that was made in any legislative body in the United States, at least west of the Hudson River.”

Lincoln also received his license to practice law in the Vandalia Statehouse in March of 1837.

On Lincoln’s Trail

While in Illinois, I availed myself of the opportunity to visit the “sacred” sites where Lincoln lived and worked. I saw Lincoln’s log cabin in Lerna where I met E,D. Dowling, who worked at the site, and who also was distant relaive of Dennis Hanks, a cousin of Lincoln’s mother.

I visited Lincoln’s two-story house in Springfield, and his burial plot in Oak Ridge

Lincoln Springfileld Home

Cemetery, where Lincoln, his wife and three of his four sons are buried.

I also visited the cemetery plot of Lincoln’s stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln. Lincoln had a storng bond with her and before he left Illinois to assume the presidency, he went back to Lerna on a sentimental journey to visit her.

In an interview with William Herndon after Lincoln’s death, his stepmother said,  “His mind and mine, what little I had, seemed to run together, more in the same channel.”

My Presentation

Here are a few highlights from my presentation to the Lincolns:

Cemetery Walk Tours

One memorable convention activity was cemetery walk tour in the Old Vandalia Cemetery. It involved actors portraying the roles of the people buried in the cemetery. It really touched my heart to hear such a vivid presentation of how their lives were changed by the civil war, and the various joys and tragedies they encountered in life.

Most moving was a slave who had been given his freedom by a kindly slave owner. After Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation,the former slave joined the Union army and following the war, led a productive life as a free man in Vandalia.

Vandalia Cemetery Walk Tour

 

Abe’s favorite book! (aka John Mansfield)

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)

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 and the Kindergarten Class

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

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

In order to win a man to your cause, you must first reach his heart, the great high road to his reason.

– Abraham Lincoln

 

In a lesson that aspiring candidate for the 2016 election, such as Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Chris Christie, and Jeb Bush, could learn from, Abraham Lincoln captured the Republican Nomination for the Presidency in 1860 by not criticizing his opponents.

Of the four candidates running for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 1860, Lincoln had the very least amount of experience. Compared to the other candidates, who were all political “heavy weights,” Lincoln was considered a political “light weight.”

A Stunning Upset

It’s like the scene in the movie Rocky, where a TV interview shows challenger Rocky Balboa pounding frozen cow carcasses like punching bags in preparation for the big fight. The Champion’s trainer is watching the TV and says,

“Hey, Champ, you should see this guy that you’re going to fight. It looks like he means business.”

The champ is on the phone busily lining up endorsements for the fight and absentmindedly replies,

“Yeah, I mean business too.”

But you could see in his demeanor that he didn’t really comprehend the approaching “tsunami-zilla” that Rocky represented, just as Lincoln’s opponents underestimated him.

Lincoln the Underdog

Wm Seward

On the surface, Lincoln’s rivals for the nomination had nothing to fear from him. Lincoln’s only political experience on the national level consisted of two failed senate races and a single term in Congress, which he had served twelve years earlier. Contrary to Lincoln, the other three candidates for the nomination were widely known and respected by most Americans.

William Henry Seward, the front runner for the nomination, had been a celebrated U.S. senator from New York for more than a decade and governor of his state for two terms before he went to Washington, D.C.

Salmon Chase

Ohio’s Salmon Chase, a lookalike of the monster (Peter Boyle) in Young Frankenstein, also had been both senator and governor, and had played a central role in the formation of the national Republican Party.

Edward Bates -“You lookin’ at me?”

Edward (evil eye) Bates was a widely respected elder statesman, a delegate to the convention that had framed the Missouri Compromise, and a former congressman whose opinions on national matters were still widely sought.

Yet somehow, Lincoln, a political unknown, surprised almost everyone, and through some form of political jujitsu, outmaneuvered his opponents and captured the nomination.

In retrospect, we can see an explanation of how Lincoln accomplished this astounding feat.

Lincoln’s Stories Neutralize the Opposition

Lincoln had a huge advantage in the crucial area of communication and storytelling. Lincoln had an easy-going personality and a style of not directly attacking the opinions of others. Rather, he used persuasion and stories to win them over, resulting in no delegates at the convention being strongly opposed to him. When the other candidates split the vote, the affable Lincoln was the runaway “second choice” of the nominating convention. Lincoln could have been the poster boy for Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends and Influence People.

The Lesson

Lincoln’s proficiency in storytelling eclipsed the experience and credentials of the other candidates. He never had to resort to mud-slinging or smear campaigns. Instead, Lincoln used stories to gently show people who disagreed with his policies the logical reasoning behind his decisions.

He didn’t view his opponents as enemies. His response was to view their perspectives as being no different than his own,  if he were in their shoes. They just needed things explained in the proper terms for them to fully grasp and support Lincoln’s view.

Lincoln’s goal was never to knock down his enemies like a row of bowling pins. He aimed to convince them to fall down voluntarily. Stories were the way he reached their hearts and minds.

See Also:

Abraham Lincoln Storytelling Secret – Add Voices

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

 What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me about the Power of Stories

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

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)

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

Upcoming Presentations

On November 15, I will be presenting a 40 minute seminar on “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds, and Funny Bones,” at the DoubleTree Inn in Tucson, Arizona for the 2014 Statewide Toastmaster (District 3) Conference.

Abraham Lincoln and Storytelling – The Story Behind the Book

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds & Funny Bones

 

“I am Terry Sprouse and I am a Lincoln-holic.”

But, let’s go back to where it all began.

I first became acquainted with Abraham Lincoln when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Honduras in 1986. Like most PCVs, I was starved for any reading material that was written in English, a thing more valuable to me than diamonds.

A Life Changing Book 

One day, I received a large package from my mother. It was book entitled “Abraham Lincoln – One volume edition” by Carl Sandburg.

I was captivated by the personality of Lincoln, as well as the elegant manner in which the book was written. As I read the book, I felt like I was experiencing a beautiful dream that I never wanted to end. I read the book through many times and highlighted passages that I wanted to remember.

I think the life of Abraham Lincoln is the most intriguing story in American history. Poor farm boy rises, like Venus from the half-shell, against all odds, to become President of the United States. And beyond the Presidency, he achieves legendary status through unparalleled displays of grace, charm, and good humor.

I planted a goal in my mind to write a book that would inspire people the way that Sandburg’s book had inspired me, and maybe even write a book about Lincoln. I read everything I could get my hands on about Lincoln.

28 Years Later- The Book is Written

Fast forward 28 years. I have been a member of Toastmasters (public speaking club) for several years, and I delivered several speeches about Abraham Lincoln. In 2012, I completed a book with my wife (Turn Your House into a Rental House Instead of Selling It!) and I was casting about for a topic for my next book.

Then, the goal that I had planted in my mind to write a book about Lincoln came back to me. I initially thought to write a book containing Lincoln’s best jokes that I could sell in conjunction with my making Lincoln speeches at various groups and organizations.

Gradually the book got longer and stronger, as I decided that some supplemental text would make it all the more interesting. I added chapters on the techniques that Lincoln used to tell his stories –mimicry, self-deprecating humor, and adding a moral to the end. Then another chapter on childhood influences that molded young Abe into a storyteller. Another on how he “Lincolnized” old stories to make them his own.

Throwing modesty to the wind, I also included a chapter on how I use Lincoln-like stories to teach my young boys valuable lessons and in radio interviews to promote my books.

I presented many of my ideas in speeches to my Toastmaster Club. In the process of writing the speeches and receiving feedback from club members, the text improved, and ultimately wound up as content in my final book.

With the publication of my Lincoln book, the 28 year wait is over and my mind is at ease.

Yes, I am a Lincoln-holic, and gratified to be in such good company.

 

See also:

Abraham Lincoln Storytelling Secret – Add Voices

What Mr. Lincoln Taught Me About the Power of Stories

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

How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Connect with People

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