Posts Tagged ‘Caleb Carman’

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

“Abraham Lincoln was liked by every person who knew him. He made himself useful in every way that he could. If the water-bucket was empty he filled it; if wood was needed he chopped it; he was always cheerful and in a good humor.” Caleb Carman, New Salem neighbor.

“It cannot be too often stated that cheerful friendliness was the most striking feature of his (Lincoln’s) personality.” Albert J. Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1858.


Treat Strangers Like Friends

I was walking my dog, Blackie, one morning. As I began to cross the street, a van suddenly appeared and was barreling towards me. The lady in a van stopped to let me cross. I thought it was my neighbor, Pat. I waved for her to go first, then I gave another wave and smile as she passed. As she went by I realized it wasn’t Pat, but rather, a complete stranger.

The remarkable point of this incident is that I can pretend that the people I meet are just like someone I already know and like. Then I find I have the same warm feelings for that stranger as I do for an old friend. If I project traits I know about a person I am acquainted with to a new person, I try harder to understand them instead viewing their actions in a negative light.

My friend, Mark, is a “type A” personality. He is capable of pushing himself to accomplish great things and he can be very kindly towards others, but he is also easily frustrated and angered when things don’t go the way he expected. When I meet someone with a personality like Mark, I know what buttons to push to make him smile and what buttons to avoid so he is not upset, based on my experience with Mark.

Forced to be Affable

As a landlord and owner of rental houses, recently my wife and I were really low on money (i.e., broke). We are always feel like we’re low on money, but this time the well was really dry. We maxed out our credit card to purchase a new air conditioner for a property.

Big Lou

On top of this, we had to pay for a hotel room for a tenant, when the old air conditioner went out and he and his family could not live in my rental house, due to the heat. This unexpected (No one expects the Spanish Inquisition!) combination of large expenditures hit us like a Lou Ferrigno-sized tsunami. I feared we might have to sell a rental house to get out of debt, something I have eluded because we are relying on the rental houses as a future source of retirement income.

We desperately needed new tenants in this house. We found two promising, albeit quirky, tenants. I was so motivated to avoid this financial cliff we were facing that I bent over backwards to keep the tenants happy. I assumed an exceptionally affable personality.

Affable Personas

My attitude was that the tenants could do no wrong, even though they did things that under normal circumstances would rub me the wrong way, such as: they had a dog in the house for a short period (no pets allowed); they paid the rent late; they didn’t transfer the utilities into their name; they were pushy in asking for minor repairs that they could easily do themselves. How hard is it to buy a $1.00 bathtub drain plug?

Yet, I maintained my amiable, easygoing attitude. Anything that happened, regardless of how shocking, I acted as if it was exactly what I had anticipated. My response was always, “No problem. We can handle that. It’s a piece of cake.”

Some typical tenant problems and my response:

“I have a leaky faucet.” No sweat. I’ll change the washer.

“The door is squeaking” I’m on it. Let me put some WD 40 on the hinge.

“I dropped a pencil on the floor.” Leave it to me. No project is too small.

Surprisingly, since I’m normally an intense worrier, this positive attitude grew on me like a barnacle on a ship. It has made me feel much more relaxed.

To Change the Present, Come Back From the Future!

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote that we should live each moment as if for the second time. We recognize that we didn’t fully appreciate our experience the first time around and now have a chance to return to the moment and do it right (as mentioned in Lynne Spreen’s “Any Shiny Thing – Life After 50” Blog.)

Marty and Doc Brown

To come back from the future, we don’t need a time machine built from a DeLorean car like Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) in Back to the Future. Rather, the trick is to pretend like we are in the future, but we imagine we have traveled back to the present.

For example, I am 63 years old, but I imagine that I am really 83 and I have returned from the future to enjoy this day, as if for a second time. I take the things that happen as though it’s my last chance to see these people I love, in this stage of their lives. I imagine that I have already experienced this day once before and I focus on really treasuring the people and experiences in this second opportunity.

Putting My Affable Persona to the Test

In my adventures as a special education substitute teacher, I frequently come across kids with extreme anti-social behavior. Since all of the other teachers in the class (there can be three or four teachers in some classes) are already burned out from working with that one kid, I am usually paired up with him.

As I approach each new classroom, my thought is, “You never know what you are going to get. That’s the exciting part about life.”

Recently, I walked up to the classroom door and surprisingly, the door was locked.  I knocked. The teacher opened the door just a crack and shoved a boy at me. In an exasperated voice, she said, “This is Angel. Can you just watch him for a while? We have to get him out of this classroom. I don’t care what you do, just don’t let him hurt anyone.” The door closed and locked behind us.

10 Year Old Imp

I was alone in the school hall way with this 10-year-old imp who was just expelled from his classroom. Our eyes locked. My mind was churning with foreboding thoughts.

Suddenly, a continuous stream of expletives flew out of his mouth. He ran down the hallway ripping papers off bulletin boards and yelling insults at teachers and students he passed. I herded him into a teacher preparation room where I kept him blocked in, thinking it was be safer for everyone if I isolated from the rest of the school population. He threw papers, pencils and markers on the ground, put pens in the toilet, and taunted me with insults. His favorite name for me was “pink lips.”

Yet, I kept the Lincoln perspective firmly in mind and maintained my affable persona. I would chuckle at some of his over-the-top taunts, or reply to a particularly creative insulting name for me with, “That’s a good one.” I found a Goosebumps book in the prep room and started reading it out loud as I continued to try to neutralize Angel’s destructive efforts. He took an interest in the story and calmed down a bit.

I returned Angel to his classroom in a slightly better frame of mind than I got him, although that might have been because he just needed a rest. Yes, I was happy to be rid of him, but I was more pleased to have maintained my calm demeanor.

Later, I went home and kicked my dog. (Just kidding.)

An Affable Waiter

Let’s try to be as affable as the imperturbable waiter.

“I’m sorry, but I only have enough money for the bill. I have nothing left for a tip,” I once told a waiter.

“Let me add up that bill again, sir,” the waiter responded.



Upcoming Pesentations:

October 20, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones. Prescott Valley Public Library (7401 E. Civic Circle), 1:00 – 2:00 pm. Prescott, AZ.





Related Links

Like Abe Lincoln, Be Prepared with a “Quip” or a Bit of Humor

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Abe Lincoln and Inner Guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

The “Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

Sunday, June 26th, 2016

We are what we think


“You, who are on the road, must have a code, that you can live by;
And so become yourself, because the past is just a good bye.”

— Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

 We all operate our lives by a “code of conduct,” yet we generally never put pen to paper and jot down our code. Our code operates behind the scenes, in our subconscious mind, guiding our every action.

The same held true with Abraham Lincoln, who never spoke of affirmations, or a code of conduct, but like our own, they were imprinted in the recesses of his mind.

In my attempt to distill the essence of who Lincoln was, I examined extensive observations of Lincoln by his family, friends, and acquaintances. From these “historical snapshots,” I unearthed the preeminent notions that rattled around inside of Lincoln’s head. The compass if you will, that directed him on his “hero’s journey,” all the way from his modest beginnings in rural Kentucky to the White House.

Here then, are the affirmations that Lincoln utilized in every situation, and with each person he met.

For each affirmation, I cite quotes from Lincoln’s contemporaries, or from Lincoln himself, to elucidate the idea.

Channel Your Inner Abe Lincoln

1)  Always greet everyone, no matter what they look like

“He greeted me cordially as though we had known each other for a long time. There JFK Kruschevwas no strangeness about him. He knew men on the instant.” William O. Stoddard, journalist.

“He approached, extended his hand, and gave mine a grasp such as only a warm-hearted man knows how to give.” New York journalist.

“Mr. Lincoln shook hands with me in his kindly way, and the direct simplicity and naturalness of his bearing were then and still remain the exact impression upon me of his daily manner. There was a natural courtesy and real interest shown toward me.” Charles Zane, law student

2)  Be prepared with a “quip of the day”

“No matter how busy or how deeply engrossed in his work Me. Lincoln might be, whenever anyone came in he would greet him with a pleasant or humorous remark, and before he left would inevitably tell a joke or anecdote. Sometimes he told the same story to four or five different person.” John H. Littlefield, law clerk, Lincoln-Herndon Law office

“If a friend met or passed Lincoln (on the streets of Springfield), something would remind him of a story, and tell it he would.” William Herndon, Herndon’s Life of Lincoln

“In the midst of the most stirring and exciting — nay, death-giving — news, Mr. Lincoln has always a story to tell.” Adam Gurowski, State Department

“Mr. Lincoln’s wit and mirth will give him a passport to the thoughts and hearts of millions.” George Goutwell, Secretary of Treasury.

3)  Employ an affable persona – be gentle, kind and courteous

“He was liked by every person who knew him. He made himself useful in every way affablethat he could. If the water-bucket was empty he filled it; if wood was needed he chopped it; he was always cheerful and in a good humor.” Caleb Carman, New Salem resident

“Mr. Lincoln quickly gained the confidence of strangers, and, if they were much with him, their affection as well. I found myself strongly drawn to him from the first, and this feeling remains to me now. He had genuine kindness of heart.” Horace White, journalist

“There was such a blend of dignity and gentleness in his (Lincoln’s) voice and words, that there came a degree of relief to the tension of my first impression (of him).” Henry C. Bowen, editor of the New York Independent and organizer of Lincoln’s Cooper Union Speech (from Lincoln at Cooper Union by Harold Holzer).

4)  Listen to friends, keep open communication channels 

“The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships,” Lincoln letter to Joseph Gillespie, 1849.

“Wherever he moved he found men and women to respect and love him. One man who knew him at that time says that ‘Lincoln had nothing, only plenty of friends.’ ” Josiah G. Holland, author

5)  Inner guidance – stay close to the “cave of the winds”

“The name of the man had come to stand for what he was. In the ‘cave of the winds’ cavewhere he saw history in the making he was far more a listener than a talker. The high adventure of great poets, inventors, explorers, facing the unknown and the unknowable, was in his face and breath, and had come to  be known, to a few, for the danger and bronze of it.” Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln

“In traveling on the circuit, he was in the habit of rising earlier than his brothers of the bar. On such occasions he was wont to sit by the fire, having uncovered the coals, and muse, and ponder, and soliloquized, inspired no doubt by that strange psychological influence which is so poetically described by Poe in ‘The Raven.’ ” Lawrence Weldon, lawyer

“A dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” Oscar Wilde

6)  Note your own flaws, share them with others

“Self-deprecating humor came naturally to Lincoln; once after being called ‘two-faced,’ he quipped, ‘If I had two faces, why would I be wearing this one?’ ” Francis B. Carpenter, portrait painter, 1865

“While riding a train, I was once accosted … by a stranger, who said, ‘Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my possession which rightfully belongs to you.’ ‘How is that?’ I asked, considerably astonished. The stranger took a jackknife from his pocket. ‘This knife,’ said he, ‘was placed in my hands some years ago with the injunction that I was to keep it until I found a man uglier than myself. I have carried it from that time to this. Allow me now to say, sir that I think you are fairly entitled to the property.’ ” Abraham Lincoln, as told to Francis B. Carpenter, portrait painter, 1865

7)  Constantly improve – push the envelope of your comfort zone

“The way for a man to rise is to improve himself in every way he can.” Abraham

“Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.”
Abraham Lincoln

8)  Offer to help others who cannot return the favor

Ab Trout, a poor barefooted boy, was chopping wood one cold winter day. Lincoln feedinghomelesscame up and asked what he got for the job, and what he would do for the money. Ab said, “One dollar” and pointing to his naked feet said, “A pair of shoes.” Abe told him to go in and warm up and he would chop a while for him. Lincoln finished the work, and told him to go buy the shoes.  William Herndon, Herndon’s Informant’s

Lincoln defended the son of the widow Armstrong, in a murder case. Lincoln saved her boy from the gallows. The only possession she had in the world was 40 acres of land, which she offered to give to Lincoln as payment. “Aunt Hannah,” he said, “you took me in years ago when I was poor and homeless and you fed me and mended my clothes, and I shan’t charge you a cent now.” Andrew Carnegie, Lincoln – The Unknown

“Lincoln chopped wood for widows and orphans. When he saw travelers bogged down, he stopped to help them.” Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life

9)  Look for the big picture

“We should be too big to take offense and too noble to give it.” Abraham Lincoln.

“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.” Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Institute Address, 1860

“I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live up to what light I have.” Abraham Lincoln, 1854.

“Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Abraham Lincoln, Speech to 140th Indiana Volunteers, 1865

“As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy.” Abraham Lincoln, 1858

10) Nourish humor and tell stories, so people say, “I felt like I had known him my whole life and we had long been friends.”

“In ten minutes I felt as if I had known him all my life. He had the most wonderful joke bookfaculty I have ever seen in a man to make one feel at ease.” Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Intimate Memories of Lincoln

“He talked in so simple and familiar a strain, and his manner and homely phrase were so absolutely free from any semblance of self-consciousness or pretension to superiority, that I soon felt as if I had known him all my life and we had 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 in hand.” Carl Schurz, Union General

“From the first moment of my interview with him I seemed to myself to have been acquainted with him for years. For while he was among the most solid of men I ever met he was among the most transparent.” Frederick Douglass, author and orator.

“I really think that Mr. Lincoln’s propensity for story-telling has been exaggerated by his enemies. I had once the honor of conversing with him, or rather of hearing him converse, for several minutes, and in all that time he only told four little stories.” Sarah Jane Lippincott, author

Lincoln Affirmation Card




Upcoming Presentations:

November 30, 2016. “Uncommon Friendliness: Abraham Lincoln’s Miraculous Formula to Squeeze Every Drop of Inspiration and Illumination Out of Each Day.” Breadkfast Lions Club. Radisson Inn. Tucson, AZ.


Related Posts:

Yard Sales, Heroic Cats and Zombies

Overcome obstacles and doubts by doing more than anyone expected

Give yourself permission to feel frustration, then relax and let it go #tmoy #storytelling

A feather is better than a hammer to win an argument #tmoy #storytelling

Don’t let pride stand in the way a brighter future

Use warm memories to replace negative thoughts

A Light Heart Lives Long #EurekaMoments 6

Act Out Characters to Make a Story Sizzle (video)

Turn frustration into creative energy #LifeLesson 7

Disarm Hostility with Friendliness #LifeLesson 8

You Only Live Twice – Life Provides Second Chances LL #9

Donald Trump vs. Abe Lincoln – #LifeLesson10 

Failures Can Be Transformed into Strength – #LifeLesson 11

Is it better to remain silent, or to speak up and confirm you’re an idiot? LifeLesson #12

Convert Affliction to Anecdote – Utilizing the Stories from Your Hero’s Journey

Virtue Is Its Own Reward

Boldness had Genius, Power and Magic In It

Emulate Abraham Lincoln: Make Each Day Count

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was


Grant Workshop

Arizona Grantwriters “How-To” Conference (for beginners). Nov. 5, 2016, Tucson AZ.

A conference for new and aspiring grant writers who want to unlock the secrets to building winning grants! Attend educational sessions and network with other professionals in the grant writing and non-profit community. Participate in an afternoon Bootcamp experience designed to prepare you to write your next grant. 

Registration information.