Posts Tagged ‘Frederick Douglass’

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
Lincoln

“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

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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:

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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

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Grant Workshop

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

Finally!
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.

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