Posts Tagged ‘Willie Lincoln’

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

Thursday, April 26th, 2018

 

“From the first moment of my interview with him (Abraham Lincoln) 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.

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If, like me, you are a stammering Neanderthal when it comes to small talk, the best way to connect with people is to tell a simple humorous story that reveals something about your life. That allows the other person see that you are open and friendly, and they feel comfortable responding to us with openness and friendliness.

The New Girlfriend

My son invited his new girlfriend over to our house for dinner. I made a batch of my heralded spaghetti. When we welcomed her into the house, her handshake was as limp as a wet fish. She only made eye contact with the spaghetti and responded with one syllable answers to the softball questions my wife and I lobbed to her.

To break the ice, I told a story.

I said, “I work as a substitute teacher in an elementary school. Wednesday I was walking my first grade class, in single file, to the library. Everything was going fine until one boy bent down to tie his shoe and all the kids behind fell over him, to the sound of bowling pins falling (in my mind).”

The girlfriend chuckled and the ice started to break. She smiled more, shared information about her family, and was more engaging. At least until our exceptionally friendly dog, Blackie, unexpectedly snatched the spaghetti off her plate.

Nobody saw that one coming.

Blackie, the Wonder Dog

Willie Lincoln – The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Of all Lincoln sons, 11-year-old Willie Lincoln’s magnetic personality was most like that of Lincoln himself. Following Willie’s untimely death in 1863, Poet Nathaniel Parker Willis wrote the following article about Willie for The Home Journal. It provides a brilliant example of the prototypical friendly personality. I underlined key phrases.

Willie Lincoln

This little fellow had his acquaintances among his father’s friends, and I chanced to be one of them. He never failed to seek me out in the crowd, shake hands, and make some pleasant remark; and this, in a boy of ten years of age, was, to say the least, endearing to a stranger. But he had more than mere affectionateness. His self-possession—aplomb, as the French call it— was extraordinary.

I was one day passing the White House, when he was outside with a play-fellow on the sidewalk. Mr. Seward (Secretary of State) drove in, with Prince Napoleon; and, in a mock-heroic way—terms of intimacy evidently existing between the boy and the Secretary—the official gentleman took off his hat, and Napoleon did the same, all making the young prince President a ceremonious salute.

Not a bit staggered with the homage, Willie drew himself up to his full height, took off his little cap with graceful self-possession, and bowed down formally to the ground, like a little ambassador. They drove past, and he went on unconcernedly with his play: the impromptu readiness and good judgment being clearly a part of his nature.

His genial and open expression of countenance was none the less ingenuous and fearless for a certain tincture of fun; and it was in this mingling of qualities that he so faithfully resembled his father.

The vivid lessons we learn from Willie Lincoln are that he:

1) greeted others by shaking hands and making a pleasant remark;

2) displayed a graceful confidence;

3) had a genial and open countenance; and,

4) mixed fun and formality together.

Political Humor

There is a distinct difference between the self-confidence of Willie Lincoln and the self-centeredness of politicians. Yet, making fun of the excesses of their fellow elected officials, is a proven way that politicians connect with constituents. Senator Mo Udall, no exception to the rule, (Too Funny to Be President) illustrates this technique in his story about two congressional colleagues.

George Smathers was running against Claude Pepper in a Senate race. In a speech in rural Florida, Smathers did a euphemistic hatchet job on Pepper. Smathers said,

“Are you aware that Claude Pepper is known all over Washington as a shameless extrovert? Not only that,” Smathers went on, “but this man is reliably reported to practice nepotism with his sister-in-law, and he has a sister who was once a thespian in New York. Worst of all,” Smathers said mournfully, “it is an established fact that Mr. Pepper, before his marriage, practiced celibacy.”

Everybody can relate to the pompous and self-absorbed nature of politicians. Like the kitten that attacks its own image in the mirror, it is reliable approach to share humor and to connect with others.

As Will Rogers observed,

“About all I can say for the United States Senate is that it opens with a prayer and closes with an investigation.”

 

Upcoming Pesentations:

June 5, 2018. How Abraham Lincoln Used Stories to Touch Hearts, Minds and Funny BonesArizona Society for Professional Hypnosis. Scottsdale Senior Community Center,1700 North Granite Reef Road, Meeting Room 7, Scottsdale, AZ, 6:30 pm.

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

 

NOW AVAILABLE!!!

Amazon Link

 

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

Employ an Affable Lincolnesque Persona

Be a Generous Listener, as Abe Lincoln Was

Deflect Criticism with Self-deprecating Humor

Always Say “Yes”

Be a Master of Disaster – Ponder the big picture

Awaken the Sleeping Giant Within – The Abe Lincoln Way

Abraham Lincoln and the Kindergarten Class

Monday, February 22nd, 2016
download

Abraham Lincoln’s dog, Fido

When I got him out he was near froze solid and shivering. He was shaking so hard that I wasted half a glass of whiskey trying to aim it for his mouth. Must have got enough of it into him, though, since it did seem to bring him back to life.

Abraham Lincoln, on what it took to save his dog after pulling him from a river where he went through thin ice

 

Last Wednesday I spoke to the Kindergarten class at St. Cyril’s School.

The class was studying Abraham Lincoln and as an author of a book about our 16th president, I was honored with an invitation to speak to the class.

I was amazed at how much these young Einsteins knew about Mr. Lincoln. The regaled me with facts about his life that even I didn’t know. I shared a few stories with them.

What seemed of most interest to the students was information on:

1)  Lincoln’s pets.

a) Abe Lincoln’s beloved dog “Fido,” was Lincoln’s constant companion as he walked the streets of Springfield. Fido had to be left behind with friends when the Lincoln family moved to the White House. Lincoln feared that his faithful friend could not survive the trip.

Lincoln on "Old Bob"

Lincoln on “Old Bob”

b) “Old Bob,” Lincoln’s horse that he rode as President in Washington, D.C. When Lincoln died, “Old Bob” pulled the wagon carrying his master’s coffin through the funeral procession.

William “Willie” Lincoln

 

2) Lincoln’s children – Eddie, Willie, Tad and Robert.

Eddie died of tuberculosis in Springfield, Illinois, in 1850, at age 4.

Willie died of typhoid fever in Washington, D.C., in 1862, at age 11.

Tad died of tuberculosis in Chicago, in 1871, at age 18.

Only Robert lived into adulthood. He became a lawyer and served as Secretary of

Thomas “Tad” Lincoln

War, Ambassador to England, and was often mentioned by the Republican Party as a potential candidate for President.

However, Robert never aspired to be President. He died in Manchester, Vermont, in 1926 at age 82.

Speaking to the Kindergarten class was a great thrill for me. Their love of learning about Abraham Lincoln rejuvenated my faith in the next generation.

Robert Todd Lincoln

Class photos:

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 Upcoming Presentations:

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.

Related Articles

Act Out Characters to Make a Story SIZZLE (video)

Abraham Lincoln and Leadership through Storytelling

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

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

Lincoln and Storytelling – Morning Blend Interview (video)

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

“Secret” Daily Affirmations of Abraham Lincoln

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