Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln Stories and Humor’

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

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)

Newspaper Summary of Lincoln Presenter’s Convention in Vandalia  

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

Follow Abe Lincoln’s Storytelling Example

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.

– Abraham Lincoln

Vandalia Statehouse where Lilncoln served as a state representative

Abraham Lincoln may no longer walk this Earth, but his message continues to beckon us.

Through the example of his life, Abraham Lincoln shares a truth with us that, like the Rock of Gibraltar, is immovable and unalterable. He is entrusting us with his version of the Philosopher’s Stone, but instead of converting any metal to gold, it has the power to transform strangers into friends. Lincoln proved the value of stories in his liberal use of them to achieve his extravagantly lofty goals.

If we follow the path blazed by Lincoln, we too can navigate through life, our stories preceding us, obstacles dropping like chain-sawed trees before us.

In our persistently fast paced and burdensome lives, it’s easy to feel a little discombobulated. We can reorient our inner compass needle to true north by relying on stories to see us through. You may not share Lincoln’s burning desire to be President, but whatever your goals may be, stories are sure tools in achieving them.

 Prepare yourself to tell stories

 Yyou can begin now:

Rock of Gibralter

1.  Compile a “storytelling” notebook

2. Memorize and practice stories

3. Adapt and personalize your stories

4. Add a moral, or a humorous ending, to your stories

5. Use self-deprecating humor

Today is the day

Stories were Lincoln’s road to greatness and they can be ours too. To be successful, we don’t need magic beans or Ninja tricks, we just need stories. Any occasion that we can imagine is an appropriate time to share a story with someone.

Lincoln said,

“I will prepare and someday my chance will come.”

Today is your day. Your chance has arrived.

Upcoming Presentation – Join me in Vandalia

Saturday, April 18th I will be a guest speaker to the at The Association of Lincoln Presenters 2015 Convention, Vandalia, Illinois. The title of my speech is “How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny Bones.”

Location: The Old Vandalia Statehouse, 315 W. Gallatin Vandalia, Illinois 62471

Time: 9:30 am to 11:00 am

Historical note: The Vandalia State House, built in 1836, is the fourth capitol building of the U.S. state of Illinois. It is also the oldest capitol building in Illinois to survive, as the first, second, and third capitol buildings have all disappeared. The brickFederal style state house has been operated by the state of Illinois as a monument of Illinois pioneer years since 1933.

The Association of Lincoln Presenters

Upcoming Presentations/Activities:

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

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

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 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

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