Nearly 150 years after his death, Abraham Lincoln continues to be very much in the news. The articles and books that examine his character, actions and leadership are abundant. Lincoln on Leadership, Leadership Lessons of Abraham Lincoln, Learning from Lincoln: Leadership Practices for School Success and Team of Rivals: the Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln are just a few of the recent volumes that have vied for our leadership attention as well as our leadership dollars.
From an academic perspective, I was first introduced to the wisdom and leadership of our 16th president as an undergrad pursuing a history degree. That’s been more than 30 years ago. Now as a leader with much more time in the trenches, I have an even greater appreciation for his wisdom and the character qualities that marked his leadership during exceedingly tumultuous times.
What follows are some of the most enduring Lincoln quotes that distill his wisdom in a nutshell. Here are some of his gems:
“It is true that you may fool all of the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all of the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
“Character is like a tree and reputation its shadow. The shadow is what we think it is and the tree is the real thing.”
“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”
“He has a right to criticize, who has a heart to help.”
“I am not concerned that you have fallen – I am concerned that you arise.”
“The probability that we may fail in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.”
“Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.”
“No man is good enough to govern another man without that other’s consent.”
“If you once forfeit the confidence of your fellow citizens, you can never regain their respect and esteem.”
“The best way to predict your future is to create it”
“Those who look for the bad in people will surely find it.”
“Live a good life. In the end it is not the years in a life, but the life in the years.”
“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
“I am a slow walker, but I never walk back.”
Do you have a favorite Lincoln quote? If so, please let us know.
Stay the Course,
Dr. Greg Morris