Tag Archive for 'Abraham Lincoln'

Belief and perseverance: Lessons from Washington and Lincoln

Last week Americans celebrated the birth of our 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. This week, in the U.S., we celebrate what used to be George Washington’s birthday, but now is called Presidents Day.

We know a lot about these two men, Lincoln and Washington. Both persevered through extreme hardship and the immense weight of doubts about their own abilities, while trying to lead a young nation through two extreme experiences.

But perhaps Lincoln is the most important for small business owners. We know a lot about how much he believed in himself by the following list of challenges he endured during his life, and yet, ultimately became one of our most revered presidents. Whenever you think you should give up, think about what happened to Abraham Lincoln in his life, before he found his place in history.

  • He failed in business in ‘31.
  • He was defeated for state legislator in ‘32.
  • He tried another business in ‘33. It failed.
  • His fiancee died in ‘35.
  • He had a nervous breakdown in ‘36.
  • In ‘43 he ran for congress and was defeated.
  • He tried again in ‘48 and was defeated again.
  • He tried running for the Senate in ‘54. He lost.
  • The next year he ran for Vice President and lost.
  • In ‘59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated.
  • In 1860, he was elected 16th President of the United States.

The difference between great accomplishments and failures is often belief in yourself and the will to persevere in the face of great odds.

Thank you for your perseverance, President Washington. Thank you for believing in yourself, President Lincoln.

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America: Independent & entrepreneurial

Seven score and eight years ago, Abraham Lincoln’s dedication of the Gettysburg Cemetery included these words: “…our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Four score and seven years earlier, one of those fathers, Thomas Jefferson, penned what is arguably the most important secular document in history, the Declaration of Independence, which included this passionate passage:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Having the spirit, courage and vision to declare independence, at a time when monarchy was the accepted model of government, is impressive. Fighting for those principles then, and defending them from within and without for over two centuries is unprecedented.

To be sure, America has had lapses in the delivery of some of these tenets. Indeed, while Lincoln was trying to save his beloved country, he made this judgment: “We made the experiment; and the fruit is before us.”

Even today, America is a work-in-progress. We’re on a journey of understanding with many stations where new things are learned and past wrongs can be righted. But in terms of contribution to the world, Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill” has an incomparable record. Warts and all, the United States is still a benefactor nation with millions of beneficiaries.

Freedom to dream is found in other lands, as is freedom to pursue dreams. But no entrepreneurial soil is more fertile than in America, and it’s because of those who had the spirit to create our founding documents, the will to deliver them, and the courage to defend them.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness have been essential to millions of American small businesses. If you ask anyone, anywhere on the planet, where to go to start a business and have the greatest chance to succeed and accrue the fruits of that labor, the answer would be America. Generation after generation of small business owners have, like the Founders, demonstrated spirit, will and courage as they have claimed and perpetuated the American dream.

As we celebrate the blessings of another Fourth of July in America, let’s fulfill Lincoln’s hope that the bonds of affection for each other will be “touched by the better angels of our nature.”

I talked more about entrepreneurs and liberty recently on The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to click on the link below to listen and leave your comments.

America: We began with freedom

America: Independent and entrepreneurial

Abraham Lincoln on diversity

Many times in this space I have the pleasure of quoting smart people who have said something that I want you to hear. Eugene Griessman is such a person, and a long-time friend and member of my Brain Trust. Gene’s thoughts are oft quoted, but one piece he wrote caught on so much that, for almost 10 years, it continues to pop up around the globe.  It’s called The Diversity Creed, and with all of the intolerance in the world right now, I thought you would appreciate this piece of Griessman wisdom, and I offer it with Gene’s permission.

THE DIVERSITY CREED

Gene Griessman  © 1993

www.presidentlincoln.com

I believe that diversity is a part of the natural order of things-as natural as the trillion shapes and shades of the flowers of spring or the leaves of autumn.

I believe that diversity brings new solutions to an ever-changing environment, and that sameness is not only uninteresting but limiting.

To deny diversity is to deny life-with all its richness and manifold opportunities.  Thus, I affirm my citizenship in a world of diversity, and with it the responsibility to…

Be tolerant.  Live and let live.  Understand that those who cause no harm should not be feared, ridiculed, or harmed-even if they are different.

Look for the best in others.

Be just in my dealings with poor and rich, weak and strong, and whenever possible to defend the young, the old, the frail, the defenseless.

Avoid needless conflicts and diversions, but be always willing to change for the better that which can be changed.

Seek knowledge in order to know what can be changed, as well as what cannot be changed.

Forge alliances with others who love liberty and justice.

Be kind, remembering how fragile the human spirit is.

Live the examined life, subjecting my motives and actions to the scrutiny of mind and heart so to rise above prejudice and hatred.

Care.  Be generous in thought, word, and purse.

Jim Blasingame here again. This year, on the 202nd anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, I talked with Gene about Lincoln’s advice for businesses on The Small Business Advocate Show. Take a few minutes to listen to our conversation and, as always, leave your thoughts. Abraham Lincoln offers business advice

The Griessman Diversity Creed for small business

Many times in this space I have the pleasure of quoting smart people who have said something that I want you to hear. Eugene Griessman is such a person, and a long-time friend and member of my Brain Trust. Gene’s thoughts are oft quoted, but one piece he wrote caught on so much that, for almost 10 years, it continues to pop up around the globe. It’s called The Diversity Creed, and with all of the intolerance in the world right now, I thought you would appreciate this piece of Griessman wisdom, and I offer it with Gene’s permission.

THE DIVERSITY CREED
Gene Griessman ©1993

I believe that diversity is a part of the natural order of things - as natural as the trillion shapes and shades of the flowers of spring or the leaves of autumn. I believe that diversity brings new solutions to an ever-changing environment, and that sameness is not only uninteresting, but limiting.

To deny diversity is to deny life - with all its richness and manifold opportunities. Thus, I affirm my citizenship in a world of diversity, and with it the responsibility to…

Be tolerant. Live and let live. Understand that those who cause no harm should not be feared, ridiculed, or harmed - even if they are different.

Look for the best in others.

Be just in my dealings with poor and rich, weak and strong, and whenever possible, to defend the young, the old, the frail, the defenseless.

Avoid needless conflicts and diversions, but be always willing to change for the better that which can be changed.

Seek knowledge in order to know what can be changed, as well as what cannot be changed.

Forge alliances with others who love liberty and justice.

Be kin, remembering how fragile the human spirit is.

Live the examined life, subjecting my motives and actions to the scrutiny of mind and heart so to rise above prejudice and hatred.

Care. Be generous in thought, word, and purse.

This is Jim again…great words and wisdom from a great man. Gene Griessman is not only a very smart man, but he’s also an Abraham Lincoln scholar and one of the top Lincoln portrayers in the world. He was on my radio show, The Small Business Advocate, recently to talk about Lincoln’s thoughts on leadership. Please take a few minutes to listen, and, as always, leave your thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Small business survival lessons from Abraham Lincoln

Many years ago I discovered the list of failures and setbacks Abraham Lincoln endured in his life. When I first read the list I was overwhelmed by two emotions: 1) Sadness - that any one person would experience so many bad things; 2) Admiration - that anyone could have accomplished so much in the face of so much adversity.

Here’s a short list – there actually are several more – of the life challenges of Abraham Lincoln
• He failed in business in 1831.
• He was defeated for state legislator in ‘32.
• He tried another business in ‘33. It failed.
• His fiancee died in ‘35.
• He had a nervous breakdown in ‘36.
• In ‘43 he ran for Congress and was defeated.
• He tried again in ‘48 and was defeated again.
• He tried running for the Senate in ‘55. He lost.
• The next year he ran for Vice President and lost.
• In ‘59 he ran for the Senate again and was defeated.
• In 1860 he was elected the16th President of the United States.

According to Gene Griessman, Lincoln scholar (www.presidentlincoln.com) and a member of my Brain Trust, in the nine years after critics completely wrote him off as a political player, Abraham Lincoln accomplished leadership feats and professional successes that were nothing short of heroic and for which he is still generally recognized as one of the two greatest American presidents.

Lincoln has taught us that the difference between history’s boldest accomplishments and its most staggering failures is often simply the diligence and will to persevere.

As we enter 2009, the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birthday and a year that will definitely challenge our diligence and will, if you’re ever tempted to slump into a self-involved pity party, go back and re-read Lincoln’s failures and setbacks. This time you’ll feel two other emotions: 1) Shame - that you allowed yourself to lapse into a funk; 2) Renewed perseverance – now remembering that like Lincoln, as long as you’re alive, every new day that you show up to work on your business and life could be the day that you turn the corner.

So, what advice would President Lincoln offer small business owners about dealing with economic challenges? Gene Griessman offered a number of words of wisdom from Lincoln when he joined me recently on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. In addition to being a Lincoln scholar, Gene is also one of the world’s top Lincoln portrayers. I think you’ll benefit from hearing our conversation.




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