Seven Lessons from Abraham Lincoln

My most recent read was the biography of past United States President, Abraham Lincoln. The way he lived his life – based on his speeches and comments on issues of the day – reflect his principles. I took note of some of it to share with you, since they offer not only life-lessons, but good principles for business as well.

1.       Don’t bite off more than you can chew. In his younger days, Lincoln decided to go into business but was unprepared financially. He offered so much credit without any security, that he found himself in thousands of dollars of debt, which at rough calculations, would equate to hundreds of thousands today.

2.       Be very careful with your choice of business partner. With the said business venture, Lincoln partnered with a well-known alcoholic. Since they were sellers of liquor among other things, this caused immense problems between the two. One partner was literally drinking the business dry.

3.       Always make time for your business. I know I am still on that one aspect of his life where he opened a 7-11, but there’s one last lesson on his decision to do so. Lincoln was into reading and as we all know by now, had political ambitions. This left little time for him to pay attention to his business. Coupled with his colleague who mostly imbibed ‘til inertia, there was no time for strategy or business growth.

4.       Watch out for inbred jealousy. Lincoln was a Republican and within his ranks his success generated support, but also jealousy. Jealousy within ranks is poisonous. Sadly, it is prevalent across all sectors, in all industries. If you cannot nip it in the bud or destroy it, learn how to work with it, without allowing it to affect you or your business negatively.

5.       Make time for family. Lincoln was not the most romantic man; and his family life ended very tragically. With his wife’s illness and the death of his son, Lincoln almost became a recluse. Family could be your strongest support if you allow it to be so. If you do not have such support, use the time to self-improve as much as possible.

6.       Get down and dirty. When Lincoln was arguing a shipping case, he didn’t depend solely on engineers or fisherfolk to give him their expert opinions. He physically went to the river, measured it, spoke with the people who lived there; and then formulated his legal arguments.

7.       Understand that life isn’t always easy. We may be now starting a business or we may be well advanced into successes of many businesses. Something may come out of the blue and whack us in the head. (My way of saying that we should expect the unexpected) When this occurs, simply deal with it. Whether it is a lawsuit or a fee you didn’t expect, work towards a solution instead of whining about the problem. Lincoln had more than the average share of problems  in his life; and he dealt with them, trying to always rise as high as he could.