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More Lincoln Lessons

We have quarterly get togethers for our presidents. Besides binge a great social event, our chief executive officer is having us use John Maxwell’s The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership workbook.   For our next meeting we will review Chapter 2: The Law of Influence.

I love helping leaders become better leaders. That should be our goal in our companies and in ourselves, too.

Chapter 2 tells a story of young Abe Lincoln, in 1832 when he was 23, gathering a group of volunteers to fight in the Black Hawk War. In those days when someone put together a group like this, they also assumed the role of a commanding officer. The challenge was Lincoln didn’t know anything about being a soldier, let alone leading soldiers.

He was terrible! It wasn’t until he was demoted to the rank of private that he had success as a soldier.  Because he had no experience, he couldn’t lead these men. Think of this. This means the most successful President in the history of the United States was a terrible leader at one time of his life.

I image that somewhere in the next 28 years Lincoln learned a great deal about leadership. We don’t know who his mentor was. Some historians believe it was one of his teachers.

Personally, I’ve found that failures taught me the most about leadership. Unfortunately, they were my own failures along the way. I’ve also found I’ve learned by watching others, who I consider leaders, influence others. In most cases these mentors didn’t consider themselves great leaders. Actually, they were inspirational leaders who taught me many lessons.

One of the exercises in this chapter were to rate one’s self (scale of 1 – 10) on:

  • Character – knowing who you are;
  • Relationships – who you know;
  • Knowledge – what you know;
  • Intuitions – what you feel;
  • Experience – where you’ve been;
  • Past successes – what you’ve done; and
  • Ability – what you can do

This exercise can be sobering.  How would you rate yourself in each of these categories? How would your spouse or best friend rate you in each?  Sometimes others know us better than we know ourselves.

How did you learn leadership – or are you still struggling with the concept of being a leader? The title on your business card or the fact that you own your own business has nothing to do with it.

What are you doing to become a better leader? What biographies are you reading? What videos do you watch to start your day?  Have you read any of John Maxwell’s stuff? What about books written by Ken Blanchard?

As I read about Lincoln, I knew there is hope for me yet. The wonderful news is there is hope for all of us. It is up to us, thought, to do something about so we become much better leaders.